You love going on adventures with your dog. However, summers don’t last forever and winter sets in with snow and cold, which means you need to take precautions if you take Fido on an adventure.
Hiking with your dog is awesome, it ranks up there with luxury vacations, Christmas cookies and seated leather seats in your SUV. But shorter daylight hours, freezing temperatures and the potential for dangerous weather make it quite necessary to take certain precautions.
With a little bit of planning on your part, you and Fido can hit the trails with little or no problems this winter. Jorgensen Labs, your source for vet supplies, offers you tips for winter hiking with your dog.
Have a Plan
Don’t leave your house without having a solid plan. You will want to know your destination, which trail you are going to take and check a weather app to ensure you won’t get caught up in a storm or some flurries by surprise.
Keep in mind that the weather at your hiking destination may be quite different than what it is where you live. If it is wicked cold outside or if the snow is too deep, it might make sense to skip the adventure and try again some other day.
Watch For Hypothermia
Dogs are susceptible to hypothermia just like humans. If Fido starts shivering uncontrollably, stumbles around and starts breathing slowly, warm him up right away as these are signs of hypothermia.
Food and Water
Hiking a snowy trail is hard work and you and Fido will get hungry and thirsty. Make sure you stock up on dog treats and water for your dog and keep Fido’s morale high by dolling out those treats liberally.
Protect the Paws
The cold, snow and ice can be rough on your dog’s paws. You need to have a talk with Fido and convince him to wear something to protect his paws. There are plenty of options when it comes to pet footwear that insulates and protects from the harsh weather and equally harsh terrain.
If Fido absolutely resists the idea of footwear, there are other options. Consider a topical application as an alternative to doggie boots. You can find natural, breathable wax, that when applied, absorbs into the paws and protects them from scrapes, scratches, snow and ice.
Some dog breeds are naturally equipped for hiking in cold weather, but most are not. It’s a good idea to acclimate yourself and your dog by setting out on shorter walks in the cold. Carefully monitor your dog and watch for signs of fatigue like panting hard and limping.
When you stop and rest, take note on how long it takes for him to recover.
You cannot expect your Italian Greyhound/Chihuahua mix to soldier through a 15-mile hike in single-digit temperatures. You also need to consider that hiking through snow is a lot more difficult than walking on the pavement in the summer. Plan on shorter hikes until you know your dog’s limits.
The Right Supplies
Consider how long you plan on hiking and bring along the things you need. For example, if you plan on hiking for several hours, make sure you have enough food and water.
You might also want to consider packing extra clothing for both yourself and for your dog.
Many dogs have long fur, but this doesn’t mean that they won’t get cold. Find a dog coat that offers warmth and protection.
Pay Attention to Time
When you are out hiking a beautiful mountain trail, it is all too easy to lose track of time. You may have planned for a shorter hike, but just got a little carried away. This can be bad news if you find yourself too far from the vehicle or you notice that it is getting dark.
Be Wary of Hazards
Fido does not understand hazards the same way we do. To a dog, a frozen lake is just more ground to romp on. Keep an account of your surroundings at all times and keep an eye out for rivers, streams and lakes.
If there are hazards on the trail, it is best to keep your dog on a leash.
Enjoy your winter hikes and don’t forget to get your vet supplies from Jorgensen Labs.