Preparing for the trail
Is your pet up to date on specific vaccines and preventative medications?
Leptospirosis is a bacteria that is spread through the urine of infected animals that can cause a life-threatening illness. Both wild and domestic animals can spread the illness which can live in water for weeks. Leptospirosis is most commonly transmitted through drinking contaminated water sources such as rivers, lakes, streams and ponds. We carry a vaccine that helps protect dogs from contracting this disease. In western North Carolina, the two poisonous snake species that our pets are most likely to encounter are rattlesnakes and copperheads. We carry a rattlesnake vaccine that helps protect dogs when they are bitten by the eastern diamondback rattlesnake and has some cross protection against copperheads. The vaccine delays the onset of symptoms, however your pet may still need anti-venom. The vaccine does afford you more time to get your pet to a hospital.
Fleas and ticks are abundant in the Asheville area. Our doctors recommend that all pets stay on flea/tick and heartworm preventative year round however we do carry a Lyme vaccine to afford more protection to dogs. Since we've started routine testing for tick diseases, we've had several dogs test positive for them including Lyme. For the most part, these dogs have been asymptomatic, but as with most things, prevention is always the best solution. We carry a veriety of preventatives and can help you determine which one is best for your pet. Read more about preventing tick bites and tick-borne illnesses in you and your pets.
Know the trail regulations and trail etiquette
Most trails in the Asheville area allow dogs, however it’s always important to double check that the trail you plan to hike is open to dogs. You’ll be sharing the trail with hikers, bikers and possibly even horses. Your dog should always be under your control and respectful of other users.
Plan to take enough food and water for your trip
Your dog will consume more food and water hiking then normal. Even if water is accessible from the trail, it’s always best to bring your own water to help protect your dog from diseases. If you’re hot, hungry or thirsty, there is a good chance your dog is too!
How hot is too hot?
There are lots of variables to determine what temperature your dog can be comfortable in. We’ll discuss a few guidelines below.
- In general, most dogs who have access to circulating air, fresh water and shade can probably handle heat in the 85-90 degree range however there is no hard rule about temperature limits.
- Age, breed and obesity play a large role in how dogs handle the heat. Generally, the older the dog and the more they weigh, the harder it is for them to handle heat. Brachycephalic dogs in particular, (those with short snouts like bulldogs or pugs) can't cool themselves off as efficiently as other dogs.
- When the pavement is too hot for you to touch or walk on barefoot, its probably too hot for your dog to walk on it as well.
Our Favorite Trails To Hike With Your Dog
Carrick Creek Trail, Table Rock State Park - This approximately 2 mile trail is a great summer hike because it provides plentiful water opportunities. It is in a popular state park so you will encounter many other hikers, but it does provide great views of waterfalls with plenty of on leash water opportunities for dogs.
The River Trail, Warren Wilson - This 5 mile trail follows the banks of the Swannanoa River and provides ample opportunities for dogs to swim. While at Warren Wilson, you can also explore the abundant farmland, meadows and wooded trails.
Resonover Creek Trail to Lake Julia, Dupont - This out and back approximately 6 mile trail starts at the Fawn Lake parking lot at Dupont State Forrest. The trail is all wooded and ends at Lake Julia, one of the more secluded areas at Dupont. This trail is popular with cyclist, but it's a great summer hike because there are plenty of opportunities to take a water break as you cross several creeks on the trail and end at a beautiful lake!
Bearwallow Mountain, Fletcher - This approximately one mile trail takes you to the top of Bearwallow mountain which offers panoramic views of the surrounding area. At the top is a nice, grassy bald where cattle often graze. There is also a dirt road that you can hike and there is a water source along the road. Watch out though! It's not unusual to see cattle grazing in the woods or on the bald.