Summertime and the Hiking is Easy
It’s been a lousy spring but now the official start of summer is upon us and what better time than now to get out and enjoy some warm weather and sunshine by taking a hike with our best four-legged companion. So whether you decide to drive outside the city limits and hike through a Conservation area, or just take a long walk through your neighbourhood, always be sure that you and your pup are safe and happy in the hot weather.
In order to make certain that your excursion is a happy and fun filled time for both of you, let’s take a little time to think of where we will be going and what will be needed to take with us. First and foremost, be sure that you pack plenty of water and have a dish or portable bowl for your pup to drink from. If your pup is out in the heat and exerting energy, it doesn’t take long to become dehydrated which can lead to many health problems, including heat stroke. This practice should not just be limited to your long planned hikes, but to each and every time you go out in the hot weather.
When planning your day, always plan ahead for emergencies. It’s wise to have a first aid kit on hand which should include some alcohol wipes, a tick tool or tweezers, an antiseptic cream and bandages, and a spray to ward off insects. If you are planning on hiking through a forested area or any rough terrain be sure you have proper protection for your feet and your pet’s paws. Also, even if your pup is currently taking a drug for fleas, ticks and heartworm, you may want to invest in a flea collar that is natural and releases certain chemicals to repel fleas from your pet’s fur.
If going out for an extended period, you should also be sure to bring along some snacks for both of you. Energy bars and trail mix are good choices as they will not spoil in the heat. You can also make your own “trail mix” for your pup which could include his regular kibble mixed in with some small broken up pieces of biscuits or other dog treats. This will help keep your pup motivated and energized for the day and deter him from picking up something harmful on the trail.
When you plan to go for a long walk or hike, you may find it more comfortable and easier to have an adjustable leash for your dog that fits around and attaches to your waist. This will help if you need to use your hands and can’t hold the leash or if you should trip and fall and accidentally drop your leash. This way you will still have control of your dog and know he can’t run away.
You should also check the weather conditions and predictions for the day. If it seems the temperature will spike in the afternoon, plan to leave early in the morning so you are not exposed to the hottest part of the day. Also, if there is a chance of storms, be sure you have portable rain gear packed for both of you. If your hike starts later in the day and there is a possibility you may be out when the sun goes down, have a flashlight handy and a reflective vest or collar for your pup so you can both be seen.
When out for a day of walking, you may find your best friend poops a little more than usual, so be prepared with extra poop bags. When in a park or conservation area you should also be sure to carry an extra bag to hold all of your waste until you can dispose of it properly at the end of the day.
Above all, if you plan to hike in an unknown area make sure you have your cell phone with you and that it is fully charged. Accidents can happen when we least expect them and even the most experienced hiker can get lost or disoriented. You may also need to use a compass on the phone or to call for help, and even if you are not sure where you are, you can be found with the GPS device in your phone.
So dress according to the weather and the area you will be in and get out and enjoy the Summer. Happy hiking to all.