Dog Days of Summer Hiking
It’s the dog days of Summer! Before you decide to take your fury friend out for a hike read these tips to keep you and your pup safe.
1.) Get Cleared By Vet – Before hitting the trails, make sure that your pet is updated on their vaccines and is cleared by a veterinarian for vigorous activity in the heat. Also, be check that you have recently applied tick and flea preventatives. Consider microchipping your dog as an extra measure in case they get lost, and always have them wear an updated tag and collar.
2.) Prepare Your Pack – If you have a mid- to large- sized dog, we recommend getting them a pack to carry their own gear. Fresh water is essential to hiking in the dog days of Summer, so be sure to pack plenty of water for both you and your dog. Dogs should have water every 10 minutes of walking and be submerged in water every hour. A collapsable dog bowl will help your pup more easily get hydrated, without as much waste. We also recommend bringing along a study leash, blanket, doggie bags (leave no trace!), First Aid Kit, and a towel to help cool them off. In the heat of the Summer, bring along booties to prevent your dog’s paws from burning on the asphalt and getting splinters and spurs.
3.) Plan for Emergencies – Knowledge is key to preventing emergencies and knowing how to respond. Florida Summers can get pretty hot and dehydration is a common concern. If you think your dog is overheating, look for symptoms like glassy eyes, excessive panting, lots of drool, vomiting or diarrhea. Cool them off by getting them in the shade or indoors, giving them water to drink (a little at a time at first), or hosing them down.
Also, dogs don’t have the luxury of wearing sneakers like we do, so remember that asphalt can burn their paws if it’s hot enough. To test, place the back of your hand against the asphalt. If you can’t hold it there for five seconds, it’s’ too hot to walk your dog.
Dogs are curious by nature, it’s part of why we love them so much! Help your dog stay out of trouble by keeping them on a sturdy leash and avoiding wild animals and poison ivy, oak, and sumac. Be prepared for such events by carrying a snake bite kit, checking for ticks and fleas after your hike, and carrying your phone and vet’s contact information.
4.) Find a Trail – In the Summer, look for parks with plenty of shade and access to drinking water. We are fortunately in Tallahassee to have a lot of parks that are shaded and dog friendly! Be sure to check individual park rules and restrictions before setting out to make your your pup will be welcome. Here are a few trails in Tallahassee that welcome canines:
5.) Get Out There!! – Now you’re ready to get out and start your hike! Start out with short hikes, maintaining a reasonable pace and distance for your dog. Try to avoid hot times of the day and take frequent water breaks (every 10 minutes of walking), preferably in the shade. To help your dog cool off, it’s a good idea to submerge them in water (or hose them off) every hour or so. Some parks, like Tom Brown Park, have watering stations where you can get them some drinking water and a quick shower.
Now that you’re informed, get outdoors and enjoy the summer with your dog!