Get ready to enjoy the outdoors on the National Take a Hike Day! Grab your boots, snacks, and water and get out and find some local trails this November 17th. OH! And don’t forget your furry four-legged friend!
Just like for humans, getting out and enjoying the trails for your pup helps stimulate physical and mental health. Hiking is fantastic exercise and a perfect way to enjoy nature. Dogs make great companions while on the trails, and watching them enjoy the sights, sounds, and smells of nature is uplifting for you both.
There are several things you’ll need to be prepared to go on a hike with your dog. As mentioned above, you’ll want to make sure that you have a good pair of boots or shoes to enjoy the trails. You don’t want to slip and fall because the tread on your shoes isn’t good!
You’ll also want to make sure you bring snacks along. Being active helps boost your metabolism, and you want to make sure you are keeping your energy up. You can bring along some trail mix or granola bars. Your pup won’t need food, but they will need to have plenty of water.
Dogs don’t sweat as humans do. Panting is their primary method for keeping cool, putting them at a higher risk of overheating than you when on the trails, so you’ll need to make sure they can cool off. Plus, if you don’t bring water for your dog to drink, you risk your dog drinking from ponds, streams, or standing pools of water, which can be contaminated.
It pays to practice the National Parks B.A.R.K. rule wherever you hike with your dog. B.A.R.K. stands for:
- Bag your pet’s waste - Pick up after your pet.
- Always leash your pet - Keeping your dog on a short leash is vital for safety, courtesy, and control. Not to mention, an off-leash dog can disappear out of sight, and if you can’t see what your dog is doing, you can’t prevent them from getting into trouble.
- Respect wildlife - Don’t allow your dog to destroy any of the plants, trees, flowers, bushes, or wildlife animals you come across while on your hike.
- Know where you can go - follow the trail signs.
Is Your Dog Ready for the Trails?
Your dog must get a clean bill of health before venturing out on the trails and hiking with you. Ask your vet the following questions if you are worried or have concerns about taking your dog on your next hike:
- Is my dog physically ready? It would be best if you waited until a young dog’s bones were fully developed. Depending on the size and other factors, that might be at a year of age, plus or minus several months.
- Does my dog need any specific vaccinations or preventative medicines? In the city, you might not worry about things like your dog drinking water in a lake or pond that an infected animal has contaminated with Leptospirosis or even giardia. Ask the vet about preventative measures for outdoor destinations.
- Is my dog’s immune system ready? Factoring in the rate of natural immunity development and your dog’s vaccine schedule, your vet can advise you about the safe age for you two to hit the trail.
Your dog is just as susceptible to the same dangers you are, but they won’t recognize many of them. Here are a few things to look out for a while on your hike:
- Please don’t overdo it! Keep an eye on your pup’s breathing and heart rate. Take extra breaks if they are having a hard time breathing. If they start to limp, it’s time to call it a day and head home.
- Wildlife. Keep them leashed at all times. The leash will help you defend them against wild animals that may cross your path. And you can help keep your dog away from dangerous plants as well.
- Keep them well hydrated. Make sure they drink plenty of water, take breaks, and find a nice shade tree to lay under while gaining their strength back to continue on the trails.
Get out and enjoy this National Take a Hike Day! We want to hear all about it! Be sure to post on social media, tag us at @vitalpetlife using the hashtags #nationaltakeahikeday #takeahikeday