Summer hiking dangerous for dogs
By SUKI REED
For The Orange County Register
The recent death of a local dog due to heatstroke and exhaustion on a long hike has brought a tear to the eye of canine lovers all over.
Remember: Dogs can't talk, so think twice before taking your dog on a sizzling hot summertime hike.
Julie Dog Reed
Tips for hiking with dogs:
1. HIKE IN COOL WEATHER
During hot summer months, walk in the late afternoon or early mornings so pavement and air temperatures are cool.
2. START WITH EASY CONDITIONING HIKES
Try short, easy hikes for several months to build endurance and calluses.
3. BRING EXTRA WATER AND SNACKS
Dogs dehydrate much more rapidly than people and need more frequent water breaks. And just as you need snacks to keep up your energy. so does your dog.
4. TOUGHEN FEET GRADUALLY
Rough trails and hot pavement will blister your dog's feet and make them bleed. Use dog booties when necessary, but ensure they are not too tight or on for more than a few hours.
5. CHECK YOUR DOG
Check his physical condition frequently.
6. DOGS FIB
A dog will tell you he is ok, even when he's not.
7. RATTLESNAKE BITES CAN BE FATAL
There is a venom vaccine and a post-bite, anti-venom treatment. I can't vouch for their effectiveness.
8. DO THE BASICS
Use a leash, and bring doggie bags to pick up after your dog.
First off, owners must be extra sensitive to the needs of their four-legged friends because of to the loyalty factor. A loyal dog will follow you to the ends of the earth - even if it kills him or her.
In addition to heat, inadequate conditioning can cause big problems. A physically unfit dog can be injured or even die on the trail. More than once, I have witnessed hikers taking their house pet on big hikes up Santiago Peak and even Mt. Whitney - where dogs are illegal past the Whitney Zone. It makes me wonder why.
Why would someone want to take a physically unfit dog on a monster hike? Is the dog going to boast about it when he gets back home? The dog I saw on Mt. Whitney was near exhaustion and the owner was not only oblivious, but aggressively in denial.
With slow and proper conditioning, dogs can eventually go on longer hikes - but hot temperatures can kill them quickly because they dehydrate more rapidly than people do.
At the peak of her hiking career, my favorite four-legged hiking companion - Julie - used to follow me up mountains without breaking a sweat. But I had to leave her at home during hot weather.
Your dog's love for you can cause him or her to use up every drop of energy to the point of utter exhaustion. Dogs feel soreness, aches and pains, just as you do. Always start with short conditioning walks before attempting longer hikes, just as you would for your own physical conditioning.
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