Cedarcide

HIKING & OUTDOORS

5 Swimming Safety Tips for Dogs

Cedarcide blog post image, 5 Swimming Safety Tips for Dogs


Swimming is easily one of the best things about summer. Swimming with your dog, however, might be
the best thing about summer! After all, what’s more fun than cooling off while sharing some mutual exercise and relaxation with your pup? But if you fail to take the proper precautions, swimming with your canine can turn un-fun very quickly. Whether cruising the beach, jumping in the pool, or exploring outdoor areas with rivers and lakes, here’s 5 swimming tips to keep your dog safe this summer.

 

Don’t Assume All Dogs Can Swim

Contrary to popular opinion, not all dogs know how to swim. Actually, not all dogs can learn how to swim either. Athletic breeds like retrievers and labs tend to pick it up fast, but denser breeds and those with flat faces like bulldogs and pugs simply aren’t suited for the water (though you’ll occasionally spot an exception). In fact, according to one popular American Bulldog Guide, drowning is the leading cause of death among both Bulldogs and American Bulldogs—which only shows how closely we need to monitor our pups when they’re playing around water.

Similarly, micro breeds like chihuahuas can tire easily, leaving them vulnerable to drowning, especially in natural bodies of waters with waves. If your pup fits either of the above categories, outfit them with a dog-specific life vest or consider skipping the water activities altogether in favor of a safer option like kiddie a pool or sprinklers.

 

Ask Your Vet About Prevention

Adventure dogs—especially those that frequent rivers, ponds, lakes and oceans—are more susceptible to various illnesses and diseases. If your next outing involves natural bodies of water, visit a vet beforehand. Serious illnesses like Lyme disease and waterborne bacteria like Leptospira can sometimes be prevented with vaccinations. We suggest checking with your vet to ensure you’ve taken all possible precautions before your next water-filled outdoor excursion.

 

Never Let them Drink the Water

Drinking salt water can lead to what’s commonly called “beach diarrhea,” a serious condition that can dehydrate or even kill your pup. Pool water contains chemicals, and drinking water from rivers, ponds and lakes exposes your dog to countless waterborne parasites and illnesses—like giardia for instance. Under no circumstance is it a good idea to let your pup drink from unfamiliar water sources, so keep a close eye anytime they approach the water’s edge. Because accidents happen, monitor your pet in the days after water activities, looking for any signs of disease or infection—such as lethargy, diarrhea, fever, or loss of appetite. If you spot anything suspicious, visit your vet immediately. Thoroughly bathing your pet after swimming can help reduce their chance of suffering a waterborne health complication.

 

Beware Blue-Green Algae

Cyanobacteria, commonly called blue-green algae, is a bacteria that forms in both fresh and saltwater. Thriving in warm conditions, this bacteria can be extremely toxic to humans and pets alike. Sadly, for our canines ingestion is often fatal. When exploring outdoor spaces with natural bodies of water, always be on the lookout for blue-green algae, which typically floats on the water’s surface (If you don’t know what it looks like, click here). If you come across water covered in what looks like blue-green algae—even if you’re unsure and cannot confirm either way—it’s best to find another spot to play.

 

Learn Doggy CPR

Even if you do everything correct as a pet parent, accidents can still happen. That’s why it’s crucial that every dog owner learn canine CPR. While brief CPR guides can be found online, we suggest taking a course in person from your vet or a local animal organization for a more thorough education.

 

Thoughts, suggestions, have your own tips to add? Comment below or head over to our Facebook page to let us know what you think!

6 Tips for Hiking with Your Cat

Cedarcide blog post image, 6 Tips for Hiking with Your Cat
 
You’ve probably heard of hiking with dogs, but did you know hiking with cats is also a thing? Adventure cats are quickly becoming a hot topic in pet circles, especially for those who spend considerable time outdoors. We know what you’re thinking: “there’s no way I could get my cat to hike with me!” But you might be surprised. With a little patience, training and experience, many cats come to love exploring the outdoors with their pet parents. Hiking can also be super beneficial for cats, supplying them with much needed mental stimulation and exercise. Like with any new activity, you’ll need to adequately prepare to enjoy a successful hike with your cat. Here’s 6 tips to get you started.

 

Bring the Proper Gear

Bottom line: If you don’t pack the proper gear, your excursion will not be successful. At the minimum, bring the following:

  • Water: Always bring enough for both you and your cat. Never allow your cat to drink from natural water sources like ponds and streams, the risk of parasites and bacteria is simply too great.
  • Snacks/food: Hiking burns lots of energy, so you’ll both need to refuel. Consult a vet to find the ideal food for hiking with your cat.
  • Harness: The type will depend on your cat’s unique needs, consult this resource for help choosing the proper harness.
  • Cat-safe bug repellent: flea, tick and mosquito protection is essential when exploring the outdoors.
  • Collar with ID tags (we also suggest microchipping your cat).
  • Cat-safe sunscreen (especially if your cat is short-haired, no-haired or fair-haired)
  • Cat pack: For when your kitty gets too tired to walk on their own
  • Pet-specific first aid kit
  • Foldable litter box and/or poop bags (cat poop contains harmful bacteria and should never be left in the wild)

 

Stay on the Trail

Veering off the trail exposes you and your adventure cat to countless safety hazards. Poison ivy, toxic plant life, hungry predators, dangerous terrain—all lurk just off the trail. The environment can also suffer from walking off trail, as delicate ecosystems can easily be disturbed by trampling feet and curious cats. For the benefit of nature, you, and your fur bae, stick to the designated trails.

 

 

Train Beforehand

Transforming your cat into an adventure cat doesn’t happen overnight. It takes patience, training and lots of treats to get your cat ready to hit the trail. First thing, you need to get them used to using a harness and leash (here’s a helpful tutorial for that). Spending a few weeks using the harness around the house and in the backyard is a must. Training your cat to come when called is also important, as accidents and other dangers can occur on the trail without warning.

 

Start Young

The sooner your cat gets acclimated to adventuring, the more likely they are to enjoy it. In fact, kitties are often better at wearing a harness and being walked than adult cats. Before hitting the trail with your young cat, consult your vet to ensure they’re physically ready for hiking (make sure they have all the necessary vaccinations, too!).

 

Beware of Dangers

Nature is fun, but it’s also wild. Owls, eagles, hawks, coyotes, parasites, snakes, biting insects, domesticated dogs—all pose a threat to your cat while hiking. Be prepared to face these risks and plan accordingly. As a rule, always keep your cat close, harnessed, leashed, hydrated and well fed. Apply pet-safe insect repellent and cat-safe sunscreen (for fair, shot-haired and no-haired breeds) to guard against bites and burns. As a precaution, read up on the signs of exhaustion and heat stroke, too.

 

Prepare to Carry Your Cat

Even veteran adventure cats get tired faster than most dogs. Whether from exhaustion or nervousness, at some point you’ll have to pick up your kitty if you take them hiking (hence the cat pack in the suggested equipment above 😉). Simply put, cats tend to feel safer on high ground, so especially at first, your cat might want to “hike” sitting on your shoulders or safely tucked in their cat pack. For these reasons, make sure your cat is comfortable being carried and that you’re physically capable of towing them around before hitting the trails.

 

Thoughts, suggestions, have your own tips to add? Comment below or head over to our Facebook page and let us know what you think!

 

5 Ways to Exercise With Your Dog

Cedarcide blog post image, 5 Ways to Exercise with Your Dog

 
Not only is dog man’s best friend, he’s man’s best workout partner, too! Think about it: they need exercise, we need exercise, they’re almost always up for it, and unlike your friend from work, your pup won’t call to cancel at the last minute. In fact, a study from Michigan State University found that dog owners are 34% more likely to meet the recommended amount of weekly exercise compared to those without dogs. Plus, in general, our dogs could use a lot more exercise. According to the Association of Pet Obesity and Prevention, over 50% of dogs are overweight—and over 20% are obese! By joining forces, you and your canine can fend off heart disease, arthritis and even depression together. Here’s 5 Ways to Exercise with Your Dog.

 
Before starting a new workout routine, have your dog checked at the vet to ensure they’re healthy enough for the chosen exercise. Similarly, we suggest having yourself checked over by your family physician just as a precaution.

 

Walking/Jogging/Running

Walking, jogging, running—all healthy adult dogs can do at least one, although few can do all three. Some pups, like greyhounds, are awesome at sprinting, but don’t fare well on long distances. Others, like labs, are efficient joggers, but can’t sprint like the aforementioned greyhounds. Thankfully, all adult canines without preexisting health conditions can enjoy modest morning walks, which still help improve cardiovascular and immune system health. For best results, avoid running/walking during the hottest and most humid times of the day, and if you have a short-nosed breed like a pug or bulldog, keep the distance under five miles. Click here for help finding the right breed for your style of running or jogging. Want to learn more? Check out these 7 Tips for Running with Your Dog.

 

Swimming

Many dogs take to swimming immediately, which is great, because it’s an incredible exercise you can share with your pup. Swimming is a particularly wise choice for older humans and canines, as it’s low-impact and therefore a good fit for individuals with arthritis and other joint complications. Swimming is also a two-for-one workout, in that it not only improves cardiovascular health but also strengthens muscles. Just remember to never leave your pup alone in the pool unsupervised, even strong canine swimmers can suffer accidents when left unattended.

 

Hiking

Hiking is one of our favorite ways of exercising with doggies, and thankfully they love it, too! There are a million smells to smell, plenty of fresh air to breathe, and lots of nature to explore. Plus, hiking is usually so totally entertaining, you hardly notice you’re exercising at all. Like with all exercises, check with your vet beforehand, start slow, and see how your pup handles the activity before tackling any serious trails. Unlike most exercises on this list, hiking requires several pieces of equipment to do it correctly (including canine-safe bug repellent!). For a list of essential hiking gear, click here. More tips for successfully hiking with your dog can be found here.

 

 
Cycling

If your dog prefers faster runs or is way ahead of you in the fitness department, cycling might be the right exercise to share with your pup. As you can imagine, cycling with a dog comes with many potential pitfalls and requires a strong ability to multitask, so we definitely recommend reading up on the subject first. For a list of necessary equipment (body harnesses, special leashes, etc) and tips for getting started, check out this helpful resource.

 

Stair Climbing

Stair climbing is a good option for those living in locations where extreme weather makes outdoor exercise difficult. From strengthening the lower body to cardio and weight loss, climbing stairs offers many benefits for dogs and their owners. If you access to an indoor staircase, simply walk or jog up and down the stairs at a safe pace for both you and your pup. Avoid stairs with openings that could trap your pup’s feet or legs, and use a body harness instead of a neck leash to avoid choking. If your canine is quite small or suffers from arthritis or other joint problems, stair climbing might not be the right workout for your dog. If you live in a mild climate, outdoor stair climbing also works.

 

Thoughts, suggestions, have your own tips to add? Comment below or head over to our Facebook page and let us know what you think!

 

7 Tips for Running with Your Dog

Cedarcide blog post image, 7 Tips for Running With Your Dog

One of the cool things about dog ownership is that you’re never without a running partner. Plus, with that cute face looking up at you, you’re much less likely to play it lazy and skip a day when you shouldn’t. Fresh air, mutual exercise, bonding time—running with your pup has it all. But before you dive in head first, check out the following tips to make your running routine safe, healthy and successful.

 

Check in with the Vet

Before taking your first run, visit the vet for a checkup. Be clear that you’re planning to start a running routine, and you want to make sure your pup is fit enough for that type of exercise. Not doing a preliminary health check can cause your dog serious harm, especially if their breed is unsuitable for intense exercise, or they have underlying health conditions like hip dysplasia, arthritis or cardiovascular complications.

Is your dog ideal for running? Click here for a list of of dog breeds that make excellent running partners.(Remember: even if your dog isn’t mentioned here, they might still be a good candidate for running, which is why a vet check-in is essential).

 

Start with a Bathroom Break

Giving your pup a potty break just before each run can save you pit stops along the way, not to mention the annoyance of stopping to bag dog poo. But just because your dog enjoyed a successful bathroom break before running, doesn’t mean you can get away with leaving the poo bags at home. Always bring them along just in case.

 

Start Slow

If running is a new activity for you and your pup, it’s best to start slow. From cardiovascular fitness to strengthening your dog’s paw pads, it can take some time to get into running shape. Moderate 10-minute runs are a good starting point, then simply add an additional 5-10 minutes each week until you find a distance and pace that’s right for both of you.

 

Watch their Body Language

Because your pup can’t say when they’re tired or hurting, you need to monitor their body language closely. Heavy panting, foamy mouth, tongue hanging out—all point to an exhausted canine. Note any significant change in their speed as well. If they’re lagging behind or heavy on the leash, your dog is tired and needs a rest.

 

Pay Attention to Their Paws

Running, especially starting out, can sometimes cause injury to your dog’s delicate paw pads. Hot concrete, ice, and glass are all common sources of injury. If you spot limping or constant licking of the feet, there’s a good chance your pup has hurt their pads. Routinely checking their pads before and after outdoor activities—including running—is a good habit to adopt. We also advise cleaning the pads with warm, soapy water after each run to remove possible irritants. If your pup is susceptible to paw injuries, consider investing in some booties for added protection.

 

Stay Hydrated

Staying hydrated is fundamental to any healthy exercise, especially when your dog’s involved. Giving your pup water before, after and during runs is a must. While bottles might be ideal for your personal needs, they aren’t always the easiest way for dogs to grab a drink. So consider purchasing a collapsible bowl for when your pup needs water, too.

 

Pick the Right Leash

Having the right leash for your dog’s physical characteristics and behavior profile will make all the difference. The specifics, however, will vary depending on you and your pup’s unique needs and running preferences. To narrow your search, here’s a list of excellent leashes for dogs and their human running partners.

 


Thoughts, suggestions, have your own tips to add? Comment below or head over to our Facebook page and let us know what you think!

 

Camping with Your Dog: 8 Tips

Cedarcide blog post image, Camping with Your Dog: 8 Tips
Camping is one of the best bonding activities you can share with your dog. Plus, your pup will love it—there’s a million things to smell, chase, look at and pee on. It’s doggy heaven right here on earth. But to keep things safe and fun, you’ll need the proper preparation. Check out the following 8 tips to ensure you and your pup make the most of your outdoor excursion.

 

Find the Right Campsite

Not every campsite is ideal or welcoming of canines, so finding a suitable spot is first on the agenda. Choosing the right space could come down to preference as well, as some sites require leashes and other don’t. Use Bring Fido, hipcamp.com or another online resource to find a pet friendly campsite that’s right for you.

 

Visit the Vet and Update Your Dog’s Papers

Before camping with your pup, especially if it’s their first time, visit the vet to make sure your dog’s physically up to the challenge. While you’re there, confirm that your pooch’s ID tags, vaccinations and microchip information are up to date. As a safety precaution, bring these records along everytime you camp. And because camping can get messy, consider laminating
them, too.

 

Pack the Essentials

While this list is by no means exhaustive, bring at least the following:

  • Poop bags
  • Leash (preferably reflective and no longer than 6 feet)
  • Collapsible food and water bowls (and plenty of food and water for the both of you)
  • Outdoor dog toys (you’re camping remember, it’s supposed to be fun!)
  • Towels (messy pups don’t make ideal tent buddies)
  • Dog backpack (but only if your pup is old enough and strong enough to carry one)
  • Dog-specific first aid kit (more on that below)

 

 

Bring a Dog Specific First Aid Kit

While your dog’s first aid kit should include more items, the U.S. Forest Service suggests bringing at least the following when camping with your pup:

  • Needle-nose pliers for removing thorns, splinters and other sharp objects
  • A bandana in the event you need an emergency muzzle
  • A tool for removing ticks
  • Booties, in case your dog injures their paw or simply requires extra paw protection
  • A first aid book with instructions for treating common dog injuries

For an in-depth guide to finishing out your dog-specific first aid kit, click here.

 

Don’t Forget a Tether and Stakes

Have you ever tried setting up camp while holding your dog on a leash? It’s almost impossible. Two hands is simply not enough. A tether and stakes to secure your dog to the campsite will make your outing much less stressful. While going tether-free or leashless is always an option, it’s a big risk. When faced with all the temptations the outdoors offer, even dogs that do well without a leash can run off and become lost.

 

Bring Pet-Friendly Bug Repellent

Fleas, ticks, mosquitoes and countless other insects and parasites inhabit the great outdoors. Apply a non-toxic, pet-friendly bug repellent to both your pup and yourself for a bite-free camping experience.

 

Never Leave Your Dog Unattended

Whether out exploring or back at the tent, never leave your pup unattended. If left at the campsite, your dog could aggravate other campers by barking or stealing food. But more importantly, your dog could get injured by wildlife if you’re not around to monitor their activity. As a rule, never let them venture too far from your side until you’re back in the comfort of your own home.

 

Pack Blankets and a Sleeping Bag Just for Your Dog

Like we said, your pup should never leave your side when camping—and that includes bedtime. While your pup can typically sleep on the ground, doing so, particularly in cold or wet weather, unnecessarily exposes them to the elements (body heat, for example, can easily be lost through the thin flooring of a tent).

To prevent such issues—and to give your pup a comfier spot to rest—pack blankets and a sleeping bag dedicated just for your dog. Low on cash? A child’s sleeping bag from a resale shop makes for a great doggy sleeping bag.

 

Thoughts, suggestions, have your own tips to add? Comment below or head over to our Facebook page and let us know what you think!

How to Go Green When Camping: 5 Tips

Camping is about getting outside and enjoying nature. Unfortunately, when we bring lots of waste and chemical-based products along with us, we can threaten the very nature we hope to appreciate. Green camping is a way of  making our outdoor outings as eco-friendly and responsible as possible. As the saying goes: Take only pictures, leave only footprints. From reducing waste to preserving nature, here are 5 green camping tips. 

 

Go Non-Toxic With Your Bug Spray, Sunscreen and Toiletries 

Traditional, chemical-based products threaten the air, water and wildlife, not to mention your friends and family. Go with a naturally sourced bug spray instead, and when it comes to sunscreen and toiletries, make sure they’re non-toxic and biodegradable. Also shoot for recyclable or reusable packaging.

 

Leave Behind the Electronics

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Other than your cell phone and a flashlight (and GPS if you need it) leave the electronics at home. You’re out in the wild, so appreciate it! MP3 players, handheld video games, tablets—leave them all behind. Consider going solar when charging your devices, too


Use Eco-Friendly Gear

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Switching to more sustainable and responsibly sourced gear options is a big part of making your camping experience more green. Plastic tents, for instance, can sit in landfills for generations after their final use. For sleeping bags and tents, look for options made from 100% recycled materials. Nearly all tents come with some type of water-resistant coating as well as dyes, so aim for options that contain no toxic dyes and coatings that are solvent-free. If these options aren’t available to you, consider borrowing or purchasing used equipment to reduce manufacturing waste.

Dishes are another way to cut down on your environmental footprint. No matter how tempting, don’t resort to disposable plates and utensils—they’re super bad for the environment. Use reusable dishes instead, like lightweight titanium for example. 

 

Ditch Plastic Water Bottles

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Rolling up to a campsite with a few cases of plastic water bottles is just the worst thing ever. That’s a TON of waste, first of all. Second of all, if the campground requires you to carry out your trash, well that’s a whole bunch of stuff to pack out. Plus, plastic means chemicals are leaching into your drinking water—gross! Bring a reusable water bottle instead, along with a few gallons of extra water when you need a refill.

 

Take Care of Business—Responsibly!

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Maybe this should have been #2 on the list, but either way, it’s time we all learned how to take care of our business in a way that’s respectful of the environment. If there’s no outhouse or composting toilet near your campsite, here’s what you need to do:

  • Bring your own toilet paper (We like this one from Seventh Generation) and a bag to dispose of it in
  • #1 or #2 it doesn’t matter, you need to find a secluded spot that’s at least 200 feet from the closest campsite or water source
  • Dig a hole at least 6 inches deep, and promptly cover it after you’re finished
  • Remember that bag you brought to dispose of the soiled toilet paper? Never leave that thing behind—make sure to camp it out or find a way to dispose of it properly

 

Thoughts, suggestions, have your own tips to add? Comment below or head over to our Facebook page and let us know what you think!

 

10 Must-Have Items When Hiking with Your Dog

Cedarcide blog post image, 10 Must-Have Items When Hiking with Your Dog

Hiking and backpacking are fun. But hiking or backpacking with your dog is even better! Unfortunately, forgetting to pack the necessary equipment and gear can easily ruin this otherwise fruitful experience. For the safety, health and enjoyment of both you and your furry friend, here are 10 essential items needed for every hike with your dog (as recommended by Rover.com).

 

Collapsible Water Bowl and Fresh Water

You can purchase collapsible water bowls from pet stores, specialty shops and various online retailers. They’re portable, lightweight and easy to clean. Because it’s not always safe for dogs to drink directly from natural water sources like creeks and ponds, be sure to bring plenty of fresh water for both you and your furry hiking partner. You’ll both be burning a lot of energy, so bring enough water to account for the extra physical exertion.

 

Snacks

Speaking of energy, you’ll run out of it fast if you don’t bring enough snacks to replenish your reserves. Don’t forget about your best hiking pal—dogs love (and need) snacks, too! Tip: to save room, bring snacks the two of you can share, like bananas and peanut butter.

 

Dog Booties

Hiking booties are a good item to have on hand in case your dog tears his foot pad, or injures a toenail. Putting that paw in a bootie will help prevent the wound from getting debris or bacteria in it, or otherwise becoming worse. It’s often a good idea to put these on your pet as a precautionary measure anyway, if only to prevent such injuries. These can be purchased online or at your local pet or outdoors store. Tip: bring a small,  dog-specific first-aid kit, too, just in case.

 

Leash

Even if your dog is great off-leash, trail etiquette asks that all hikers use one on their pups. Nowadays, even most dog-friendly hiking trails require leashes—it helps preserve the trail itself, and generally makes other hikers more comfortable. In the event you pass another dog on the trail, a leash helps ensure the encounter remains safe and under control.

 

Naturally Sourced Insect Repellent

Hiking is an easy way to pick up bugs & bug bites. Ticks can transfer a number of serious diseases to your dog, and mosquitoes bites can lead to deadly heartworm disease. That’s why preventing bug bites when hiking is absolutely essential. Treating your dog with a naturally sourced insecticide and repellent is the safest way to keep bugs off your pet when hiking. Choosing a natural alternative to chemical pesticides is important, as most insecticides—even those specifically marketed to dogs—contain toxins that are dangerous for people, pets and the environment.
 

 

Brush (For Removing Plants, Burrs, Etc)

If your dog gets a burr or other object stuck in their fur, you’ll need a brush on hand to remove the item. Having a foreign object lodged near their skin can make hiking an extremely uncomfortable experience for your dog.

 

Dog-Approved Sunscreen

Your dog’s exposed skin—like on their nose, lips and other hairless parts—is susceptible to sunburn. Applying sunscreen to these areas before every hike is a must. If your dog gets wet or if your hike is unusually long, you’ll likely need to apply another layer of sunscreen. Caution: only use sunscreen intended for canine use; common human sunscreen ingredients like zinc oxide and para-aminobenzoic acid are toxic to dogs.

 

Plenty of Poop Bags 

As every hiker/backpacker knows, all trash needs to be backpacked out—including your pup’s poop. The delicate ecosystems surrounding hiking trails can be easily disrupted by foreign waste like dog feces. Hiking etiquette dictates that all hikers leave no trace behind. This applies to your dog, too.

 

Dog Pack

This isn’t a necessity, especially if you have plenty of room in your own pack. However, having your dog carry their own items (water bowl, snacks, booties, etc) can really help lighten the load. Make sure the pack fits your pup snug and that the weight never exceeds ⅓ of their body weight.
 


Camera

Okay, so this isn’t explicitly “for” your dog, but taking photos of the hiking experiences you share with your dog is something the both of you will cherish for years to come.

 

Thoughts, suggestions, have your own tips to add? Comment below or head over to our Facebook page and let us know what you think!

 

8 Tips for Hiking With Your Dog

Cedarcide blog post image, 8 Tips for Hiking With Your Dog

Exercise, nature, fresh air—hiking is a great way to bring you and your dog closer together. Few activities will excite dogs quite like exploring the wilderness with their very best friend. However, it’s not as simple as just grabbing your furry buddy and heading for the trails. Preparation and proper tools are needed to ensure that you, your dog, and fellow hikers all enjoy a safe, responsible and rewarding hike. Here are some tips to make the most of your dog-friendly day on the trails.


Physically Prepare Your Dog

Just like you, your dog needs to be in shape to undertake a hike. First off: all puppies less than a year old should probably be left at home. The demanding nature of hiking—uneven trails, steep inclines, long distances—is often too much for their young bodies. In some cases, hiking can even cause permanent harm to puppies’ still-developing bones and joints. For adults: weight, age, and breed should all be considered. Older or overweight dogs are obviously not the best candidates for hiking. Snub-nosed and smaller dogs also tend to have more trouble with hiking than other breeds (though they often excel on shorter, easier hikes)

Fortunately, conditioning your dog for hiking is not difficult. In fact, the process is similar to how humans prepare for hiking. Training should start with small walks and slowly progress to higher mileage and more difficult terrain. The aim is to build up your dog’s endurance and toughen their paw pads. If you see your dog licking their paws, panting excessively, lagging behind or tucking up their tail, you should stop, rest and give your dog some water and a snack. These are signs of an exhausted dog. With proper and patient physical training, your dog should be ready for their first hike in just a few weeks.

 

Train Your Dog For Obedience

When hiking with man’s best friend, basic obedience is critical. Well-trained dogs are simply far less likely to hurt themselves or others on the trail. “Sit,” “stay,” “come,” “heel,” and “leave it” are all essential. If your dog is not familiar with these commands and thoroughly socialized with both humans and other dogs, they’re not yet ready to go hiking. Wild animals, other hikers, other canines, poisonous mushrooms and berries—hiking trails are full of potential pitfalls that could endanger both you and your pet if they’re not properly trained. Aggressive, loud, and overly protective dogs are also not good candidates for hiking.

 

Research The Trail

Before choosing a trail for you and your furry buddy, it’s best to do a little research. Some areas and trails require permits or have other strict regulations concerning dogs (for example, most National Parks do not allow dogs on hiking trails). Waste disposal, leash requirements, breed restrictions—all trails have at least some rules. To save yourself a fine and a really short day on the trail, it’s best to know what rules are in place before starting a hike.

For your pup’s sake, it’s advisable to look for trails that are dog-friendly. Softer trails—leaf or soil covered, free from particularly rough or sharp surfaces—will help prevent common paw pad injuries. It’s also best to avoid trails with unusually steep inclines, ladders, drop-offs, and those heavily trafficked by bikes or horses. To find a dog-friendly trail near you, visit hikewithyourdog.com.

 

Consider The Weather

Before heading out for a hike, check the weather. Cold weather, unless it’s way below freezing, can usually be solved with the proper gear—dog booties, dog vests, coats or sweaters. Hot weather, however, poses a greater health risk to your pet.

High heat and humidity, in particular, can cause breathing and hydration problems in canines. Heavy panting, increased salivation, a bright red tongue, and general weakness are all signs of a tired and possibly dehydrated dog (if you spot any of these, stop, rest and hydrate immediately). Remember to take rest and water breaks every 15 to 30 minutes. Use your judgement: if it’s too hot, postpone the hike for another day, or seek out a shadier, less demanding trail, instead.

 

Pack The Proper Gear

Here’s a list of the things you’ll need when hiking with your dog:

  • Leash (the shorter the better) and collar, complete with current ID tags
  • Plenty of food and water for both you and your pup. Bring a little more than you both would usually need (Rule of thumb: 1 cup of food per 20 lbs of dog, per day)
  • A dog bowl for water and food (collapsible bowls are the most convenient)
  • All natural, nontoxic Insect repellent (especially important due to Ticks)
  • Dog-ready first aid kit
  • Hiking dog booties for cold weather, or in the event your dog incurs a paw injury.
  • A towel for post-hike cleanup
  • Poop bags
  • Carabiner. This will allow you to go hands-free with the dog leash if necessary.
  • Dog coat or vest in the event of cold weather
  • Dog brush (for tangles, burs, and to check for insects)
  • A dog pack (Tip: your dog should never carry more than a ⅓ of its body weight)

 

Treat Your Dog For Fleas, Ticks and Mosquitoes

Hiking is an easy way pick up bug bites. While most of the insects you’ll encounter in the wild are relatively harmless to you and your dog, some can be outright lethal—particularly ticks and mosquitoes. Ticks can transfer a number of serious diseases to your dog, and mosquitoes bites can lead to deadly heartworm disease.

Treating your dog with a naturally sourced insecticide and repellent is the best way to keep bugs off your pet when hiking. Choosing a non-toxic alternative to chemical pesticides is important, as most insecticides—even those specifically marketed to dogs—contain toxins that are dangerous for people, pets and the environment. In addition to treating your dog’s coat, try soaking a bandana in a naturally sourced repellent and tying it around their neck for added protection against fleas, ticks and mosquitoes.

 

Follow Trail Etiquette

While laws and regulations vary from trail to trail, there are general etiquette rules that apply to every hike. For the safety and enjoyment of you, your pet, other dogs and other hikers, be sure to follow these guidelines:

  • Give hikers without dogs the right of way. Be sure to say “hi” and act friendly, too, so your dog knows these individuals pose no threat.
  • Whether on-leash or not, keep your dog in sight and under control at all times
  • Keep a 1:1 ratio of dogs to people. If you’re hiking alone, just bring one canine buddy at a time.
  • Leave the trail as you found it, cleaning up after both you and your pet as you go. Dog waste should be backpacked out of the trail or buried about eight inches underground, somewhere far away from water sources.
  • Keep your dog on the trail and prevent them from disturbing wildlife. Many plants, for example, are delicate and cannot survive being trampled. Obviously, this is for your dog’s protection too, as this will prevent him from encountering dangerous animals and any harmful plant life like poison ivy.

 

Do A Post-Hike Check

After a long hike, it’s easy to just brush off and head home. However, it’s important for the safety of your dog to do a post-hike check as soon as your adventure is complete. Brushing throughout their coat, check your pup for burs and other needle-like plant life—like foxtails and cacti. Also check for ticks, fleas, and other biting insects that may have found their way into your dog’s fur. Be sure to check all areas of your pet, especially in hard to reach places like in between toes and under armpits. Lastly, check your dog’s paw pads for any severe cracks or other injuries.

 

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