Western North Carolinians look forward to spring for many reasons. The opportunities to enjoy Mother Nature are abundant in the Asheville area. From hiking and mountain biking, to kayaking and rock climbing, we have it all here in the mountains.
Our pets love to enjoy the great outdoors as well. Whether you are hiking short loop trials, or backpacking on the Appalachian Trail, in this article, we want to help you make sure your dog is ready to hit the hiking trail with you. Below are the first four of eight important things to remember when hiking with your dog.
1) Remember Your Dog’s Vaccinations
Hiking in the mountains of western North Carolina is a treat for you and your furry friend, but it is important to make sure he is ready for whatever you all might encounter. Check with your dog’s veterinarian and make sure he is up-to-date on his vaccinations. Important vaccinations and treatments include:
- Heartworm Treatment
- Flea and Tick Treatment
Make sure you check your dog for attached ticks. They only have to be attached for 24 to 48 hours before ticks can transmit lime disease.
2) Remember Your Dog’s Fitness Level
It is important to plan you hikes and backpacking trips in accordance with your dog’s fitness level. If your dog is used to short walks around the neighborhood, he will not be ready for lengthy hikes with significant elevation change. Your dog may have put on a few extra pounds during winter, so make sure you build toward the longer hikes.
Regardless of your buddy’s fitness level, on hot summer days, it will be important for you to make sure he does not overexert himself. Pay attention to cues that your dog is exhausted:
- Panting heavier than usual
- Elevated heart rate
- Unable to catch his breath
- Taking frequent breaks
- Laying down on the trail
3) Remember Your Dog’s Food and Water
Even if you are embarking on a shorter day hike, make sure you pack food and water for your dog. Do not count on your dog finding water along the way. Algae in stagnant water can make your dog sick, and so make sure your dog drinks from running, clean water sources. However, it is important to bring your own water source, in case the streams and creeks are not flowing freely.
You and your dog should have extra food available, even if it is an emergency stash in your bag. You may only be planning for a few hours, but it is important to be prepared for rain and other delays. Like you, your dog is burning calories as he hikes alongside you. Make sure he has all the fuel he needs.
4) Remember Your Dog Trail Etiquette
When hiking with an animal friend, it is important to remember trail etiquette for you and your dog. A few key points of trail etiquette include:
- Hike on the right side of the trail
- Leash your dog—most areas require a six-foot leash. Retractable leashes are not preferred
- Yield to hikers without dogs
- Control your dog at all times
- Clean up after your dog
- Instruct other hikers on whether your dog is safe to pet
- Be kind to other dog owners
Trail etiquette goes a long way toward helping establish hiking areas as pet-friendly. In our next article, we will discuss four more things to remember when hiking with your pets. It is a good idea to have your dog examined by a veterinarian before hitting the trail. Contact Avery Creek Pet Hospital to make a wellness appointment for your dog, and happy hiking!