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How to keep your dog healthy and happy when exploring the great outdoors

Written by Fiona

January 25 2021

Hiking and camping are great ways to enjoy the outdoors. Almost all of us can benefit from the fresh air and the exercise. Your dog would benefit from such an excursion, too, but only if you plan properly for them to accompany you. Here are a few tips on how to keep your dog healthy and happy when exploring the great outdoors, so that you can both have as much fun as possible.

Choose a pet-friendly destination

If you plan to go hiking, choose a trail that is suitable for your pet. Things to consider are livestock, such as sheep and cattle, depending on how your dog reacts to these animals.

Also think about how far the dog will be walking and the type of terrain. Some surfaces can be harsh on dog’s paws and at certain times of the year, the ground might prove too hot for their paws. The alternative is making or buying dog boots for them.

The best trails have waste disposal sites and drinking water for pets, but if your chosen trail doesn’t, you’ll have to carry water for both you and your dog. You’ll need to keep your dog hydrated, so carry water if you are not sure whether it will be safe to let your dog drink from streams.

If you are camping, ensure it is a place that welcomes dogs.

Physically prepare for your adventure

First, determine if your dog is capable of making the trip. Even if your dog is healthy, ask your vet if it is acceptable for the dog to carry a pack.

Note that the pack shouldn’t weigh more than 10 per cent of the dog’s body weight. Also, it’s best to avoid taking your dog on a hike if they won’t come when called. Obedience is critical when it comes to taking them on adventures.

You will probably need to prepare your pet physically for the trip. For example, you should go on long walks with them around the neighbourhood before you take them on a five-mile hike. If your dog has joint problems, start giving them supplements to improve their mobility. If you’re going to have them carry a pack, pick one that has proper padding and is made from breathable material. Then they can carry their food, water, waste disposal bags, and other essentials.

Learn what you need to know before you go

You also have to work on logistics. If you’re going to hike, you should learn how to deal with dog waste before you’re on the trail. Know what supplies you’ll need to pack to clean up after your pet.

Also, know what the most common dangers to dogs in that part of the country would be so that you can keep your pet safe. Have your dog on a short lead so that they can’t get into trouble chasing after something.

You also need to make sure that your dog knows how to swim before you try to take them to the lake. Some dogs may be able to swim but dislike the water. If you’re going to let them in the water, make sure that you watch out for ocean currents, jellyfish and sea urchins, as well as toxic algae in freshwater lakes or lochs.

Pack the essentials for your pet

As mentioned, you’ll need to bring water with you and, ideally, a collapsible bowl. Then, get into the habit of filling it with water when you stop to rest. You should be stopping to drink every 30 minutes or so, depending on the temperature and level of exertion.

If you will be going on a boat, consider getting a canine flotation device or life jacket. Ensure that it has a handle so you can lift them out of the water if necessary. Choose one with reflective stripes and bright colours so that your dog will be visible to others.

Another good idea is to pack a towel so you can dry off the dog before you allow them into your tent.

Protect your dog from fleas, ticks and other pests by having preventative measures ready to go. These should be applied to the whole body. Bring brushes, and get in the habit of checking your dog thoroughly so you can remove ticks as soon as you’ve returned home or set up camp.

You may want to attach flashlights, LEDs or glow sticks to the dog’s collar so that you can keep track of them at night. This will increase visibility and also make them more recognisable if they get lost.

You’re probably going to pack a toothbrush for your camping trip, and you need to do the same for your pet for the same reason. YuMOVE has an informative article on cleaning teeth as well as tips on how to maintain the health of your dog’s teeth. You’ll learn why pets need dental care while their wild cousins don’t. If you want to know about things like how often you should brush their teeth and some of the do’s and don’ts of dental care for pets, you can learn more via YuMOVE.

Take your pet’s favourite items with you

Your pet will do better if you have a few of their favourite items with you, especially if you’re going camping. For example, you might decide to bring their bed or favourite blanket so that it is easier for them to go to sleep. However, remember to use a waterproof ground cover so that it doesn’t get wet.

Don’t forget to bring a favourite toy or two, so that your dog can be comfortable no matter where they are. The more familiar they are with the surroundings, the calmer they’ll be.

Don’t forget first aid essentials

You will probably be bringing a first aid kit for yourself, but you should also bring a canine first aid kit. These first aid kits include liquid bandages for cut paw pads, pliers for tick removal and pet-friendly medicines.

Another thing you have to watch out for is heat stroke if this is a cold climate dog and you’re going to a hot destination. You can use alcohol pads or instant ice packs and apply them to the pet’s paws if they have heat stroke. A wet bandana is a good second choice if you can’t get your hands on any ice packs. 

With a little care and preparation, you can take your dog on your next hike or camping trip. Your dog is the perfect companion for your next outdoor adventure. Just make sure that you have everything covered, plan the trip with you and them in mind, and have all the essentials in case of emergency.

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