Safety tips for hiking and camping with your dog
If you plan to enjoy the great outdoors with your dog over the summer holiday, there are a few extra things to keep in mind. This guide suggests five ways to make hiking and camping with your canine companion a safe and enjoyable activity.
However, even with all the precautions, you should be aware that there’s always going to be a level of risk to these activities. In case of any emergencies, it’s best to stay covered with a pet insurance plan, as well.
Before planning outdoor activities to enjoy with your furry friend, make sure they will be physically up to the task. If your pup is used to spending the afternoon on the couch, a long hike might prove too much for her.
Test out a few smaller day hikes to get a sense for her limitations before committing to a longer or more difficult hike.
It is normal for dogs, just like people, to experience soreness, stiffness and lethargy when they get more exercise than usual. This can be particularly true for older pets who may suffer from arthritis or joint pain.
Consider their comfort and think about packing an over-the-counter natural product for pain and inflammation relief made just for dogs, such as LolaHemp.
Dehydration and overheating
Be aware of the signs of dehydration and overheating in your dog, especially if the weather is warm and humid.
Symptoms of dehydration include:
- Lethargy or a lack of energy
- Panting, but with a relatively dry mouth
- Sunken looking eyes
- Gums that feel dry or tacky to the touch
- Dry nose
- Skin that feels tight, stiff or less elastic
- Loss of appetite.
Symptoms of overheating include:
- Excessive or intense panting that may include labored breathing
- Thickening of the tongue
- Gums that are sticky rather than moist, or become pale, purple, or bright red.
The situation is CRITICAL if it progresses to these warning signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke:
- Lack of coordination, tremors, or seizures
- Diarrhoea, vomiting or bleeding from the rectum.
It is critical to act fast if you see the symptoms above as they can rapidly progress to heat stroke, a potentially fatal situation if not treated immediately with veterinary care.
Offer cool water to drink, use a wet towel to wet your dog down, provide air conditioning or shade, and take your dog to the nearest vet for prompt care.
Of course, prevention is the best measure. Be thoughtful about your dog’s needs to stay cool and hydrated. Provide a constant source of fresh and cool water, plenty of access to shade, places too cool down, such as streams or pools, and choose cooler times of the day for vigorous activities.
Canine first aid
If you already enjoy the outdoors, then you probably already have a first aid kit with your gear. However, dog’s need a few special items that you may want to consider packing before taking your furry friend out on the trail:
Hydrogen Peroxide: Can be used to induce vomiting if your pet has eaten something dangerous such as wild mushrooms or bug spray.
Benadryl: Discuss dosing Benadryl for your dog with your vet before your trip. Safe for most dogs, this over the counter allergy medication can be administered to provide relief from swelling, pain and itching if your dog is stung by a bee.
Pedialyte: Get some of the unflavoured dry packets and add a few to your first aid kit. In the event that you suspect your dog may be getting dehydrated, adding some of this powder to their drinking water can help replace vital electrolytes.
If you are used to walking your dog on well lit streets, you may not realise until you are already set up at your camping spot that being able to see your dog after dark is important. This is particularly true around the campfire where dogs can become a trip hazard and major safety concern.
In addition, if your pup wanders off, you will want to be able to locate him in a hurry to prevent him from getting lost.
Luckily, relatively inexpensive LED illuminated collars or harnesses do the trick nicely. They charge on any USB device and usually offer 12-18 hours of bright illumination per charge. Keep in mind, however, that most are not waterproof so they won’t do for swimming activities.
If you plan to be near water, such as at a loch, lake or the beach , be sure to give a thought to water safety. While many dogs are natural swimmers, some are not.
In addition, many dogs get quite excited swimming out to chase a ball but may lack the energy to make it back to shore safely. Undercurrents can present another safety concern for even the strongest canine swimmers.
Consider investing in a specially designed dog water safety vest. They will help your pooch stay buoyant, assisting him or her back to dry land.
Finally, make sure to watch for signposted warnings about water quality. In some cases, streams and coastlines can harbour dangerous bacteria, parasites, or toxic algae. Swimming or drinking these waters is potentially fatal for dogs as well as people. Be on the safe side and follow all posted regulations.