5 Things You Need to Bring with You When Hiking with Dogs
A Separate First Aid Kit
If you're hiking, you've likely already got a First Aid Kit or two set aside for you and your family. It's great that you're being proactive, and you should definitely invest in a separate kit for your pup. Humans and canines are certainly able to succumb to the same injuries, but your dog may need different treatment than what you'd use for your human loved ones or yourself.
Your Dog's First Aid Kit Should Include...
- Milk of Magnesia is useful for instances in which your dog eats something that they shouldn't.
- Styptic powder is a fast-acting substance that stops the bleeding of a broken nail. Dogs have capillaries in their toes that are referred to as a "quick," and if you accidentally clip it, those capillaries can be damaged. Your dog will likely show signs of pain, such as limping or licking, and they may bleed profusely or very little. Should you experience a situation like this, clean the area of debris and dip the nail into the styptic powder.
The bleeding should cease fairly quickly. Try not to panic, sometimes it takes several minutes before you see a difference. Afterward, the nail is likely to be quite sore, and your dog may limp for awhile. They should be feeling better after a few days as the quick recedes.
Should the nail continue to bleed, your pup may need to see a veterinarian where the wound can be cauterized.
- Gauze is necessary for obvious reasons, keep plenty of it on hand for wrapping wounds.
- Cotton Swabs for those especially sensitive and tough to reach areas.
- Gloves for sterile handling.
- Tweezers for pulling quills, thorns, glass, stingers, and ticks off of your dog.
A muzzle doesn't necessarily need to be placed inside of your dog's First Aid Kit, but it is something you should keep on hand. Should your pet happen to become injured in a way that causes a great deal of pain, they may not be very pleased with anyone who dares to come near the area. Use the muzzle if your dog will not allow you to treat them, but this is not always necessary and depends on the tolerance of your dog.
Bring Extra Identification Tags and Update Your Chip
If you've already taken steps to ensure your dog has an updated collar, congrats on being a responsible pet owner! When hiking, you have to consider that there probably isn't much sign of "civilization" anywhere nearby. Now, imagine losing your dog in the vast area that you happen to be exploring; their collar snags against a bush or branch and a tag falls off. Unless you've got those extra ID tags attached, your dog is now lost and if they are found, it's harder to get them back to you.
Worst case scenario, your dog's entire collar comes off and now they appear to be stray. This is why a microchip is essential, especially when traveling with your dog. That chip stays put, no matter where your pup ends up. Once they're found and brought to a shelter, they'll be scanned and you'll get a call letting you know where to pick them up.
Make 100% sure that your dog's microchip is up to date before traveling anywhere!
Another great option would be to add a bell to your dog's collar, especially if they're going to be off-leash. It keeps predators away and let's you know where your pup is at all times.
Even if you've never heard of them, there's a good chance you've seen a canine with a pair of their own boots. These adorable baby-like dog shoes are called booties, and they're available in just as many shapes, designs, and colors as a pair of human kicks.
What to Look for in Dog Booties
- Temperature Control: The pads on a dog's feet are quite sensitive, so you'll need to choose temperature-appropriate booties for their feet. Colder weather will obviously require more insulation, whereas warm weather booties need to be breathable, yet protective.
- Terrain: The surface of the area you'll be exploring matters, if there's a lot of moisture on the ground, for example, your dog could end up sliding through mud or rocks. This could result in cuts to the feet or broken nails, so pick a dog shoe that's sturdy and has built-in grip.
- Sizing: Getting a good size for your pup really shouldn't be all that difficult, and most companies are pretty clear about the measurements. The best thing you can do is trace your dog's paw on a piece of paper and purchase the booties in-store for a clear idea of what you're getting.
What's your biggest concern when hiking with your dog?
Aside from serious injury, losing your pup somewhere out in the woods is probably one of the most fear-inducing moments a dog owner could go through. If you're hiking, a GPS tracker is not only something to consider, it's something that should truly be a rule! Even if your dog is incredibly intelligent, great with direction, and has a keen sense of smell along with sharp hearing, other things can always go wrong. If your dog is injured and cannot move or call out to you, a tracker may be your only chance of finding them.
Look for a GPS tracker that is...
- Waterproof, or water-resistant at the very least.
- Distance durable, the further the signal the better.
- Syncable to your cellphone or another device that can find signal pings.
If you're heading out to a location that is known to be populated with snakes, you'll want an antidote for possible encounters. Anti-venom can be rather expensive, ranging from $60 to $300 a bottle. However, if you'd rather be able to save your dog's life quickly than lose them, or pay thousands on hospitalization, purchasing anti-venom for potential snake bites is highly recommended. You may never need to use it, but the one time your dog is bitten by a snake, you'll thank yourself for being prepared!
A Few Other Tips
Before stepping inside your home, it's imperative that you do a once-over for both you, and your pet. Harmful pests such as ticks can easily end up hidden along the flaps of your dog's ears, in between their toes, under the belly, between their armpits and hindquarters. Run your fingers through their fur, and your own hair and safely remove any ticks you find.
If you're hiking through a particularly untamed area, check between your dog's toes, ears, and mouth periodically for foreign objects and possible pests. Plants with spikes or thorns can also end up stuck in uncomfortable places.