The 2018 Chinese New Year rings in the Year of the Dog. Couple that with "Love Your Pet Day" on February 20 and you have the perfect excuse to spend quality time with your dog. And what better way to do that than by taking a hike together? But before you hit the trails, be sure to heed these five tips to guarantee a fun and safe hike with your four-legged friend.
1. Make Sure Your Dog is Up for It
Not all dogs are willing or able to go for a hike. Your dog's age is an important factor to consider when determining overall health and fitness. Keep in mind your dog's breed as well; for example, brachycephalic breeds such as pugs and bulldogs are at risk of breathing difficulties during a warm weather hike.
2. Check Your Gear
Preparing your dog's hiking gear before heading out is as important as checking your own. A good leash and collar (with current ID tags) is critical, and you'll likely want to bring a blanket for your dog to rest on. Consider packing a rain jacket for your dog if there is any chance of inclement weather. If your dog's willing, grab a doggy backpack--just keep in mind the load shouldn't exceed 25 percent of its body weight.
3. Pack the Essentials
Bringing enough food and water for both you and your dog is necessary to ensure a safe and enjoyable hike. Healthy dog treats can help your pooch keep energy levels up on a strenuous hike, and adequate water is necessary to prevent overheating. Because puddles and other bodies of standing water can contain dangerous parasites and bacteria, never let your dog drink from them; provide Fido with clean water from a collapsible bowl instead.
4. Take Appropriate Safe Precautions
Your dog can easily run into trouble on the trail, so take proactive steps to minimize risks. A dog first-aid kit should always be in your pack, and make sure your phone is protected with a strong case like the SLXtreme in case you need to call for help from the trail. On your hike, steer clear of wild animals that can pose a threat to your dog, such as porcupines, snakes and coyotes. Lastly, never let your dog eat anything you didn't bring; many plants in the wild can be poisonous for dogs.
5. Do a Post-Hike Check and Rehab
After returning from your hike, do a quick check of your dog for ticks, burrs or cuts. Giving your little beast a soothing bath can be a good opportunity to perform this check. Be sure to let your dog rest and give him a big meal to help him recover calories burned.
Hiking can be a great way to bond with your dog--as long as you make the right preparations and take the right precautions. Happy trails, outsiders!