Warm weather and blue skies can only mean one thing… Spring is finally here! There is no better way to celebrate than spending some quality time in the great outdoors with your dog. Your dog is probably even more eager to get outside than you are! However, before you go bounding out the door into the wild unknown, there are some things that you should make sure of before you leave. Here’s a list of some tips to keep you and your dog safe when outdoors.
First, when is the last time your dog had a visit to the vet? It is generally a good idea to take the pooch to the vet before going on any major excursions. Inform the vet that you’d like to take your dog out hiking, or camping or whatever you have planned, and that way if the dog is for some reason unfit to participate, your dog’s doctor will let you know. Also, you will probably encounter fleas, ticks, or other creepy crawlies at some point while outdoors with your dog. Taking the dog to the vet before you go out will allow you to make sure any flea, tick, and heartworm medications are up to date, and will ensure your dog stays healthy should they encounter one or more of these nasty unwanted passengers.
Secondly, even if your dog is the healthiest dog the vet has ever seen, you’ll still want to go slow and start with small excursions outdoors before gradually working your way up to longer trips and hikes. If your dog has been a lazy puppy prior to your wish to take them hiking, a long, physically exhausting trek is going to be a shock to their system.
Third, along the same lines as tip #2, it is a good idea to plan your route so that you know what kind of terrain to expect and whether or not it is ultimately a good, or a bad idea to bring your dog with you. Remember, you have shoes or hiking boots, whereas your dog only has their footpads. You should try to avoid trail areas with lots of exposed pieces of sharp rock, and if you cannot avoid these sorts of places, it is a good idea to get your dog some boots of their own to protect their feet from injury. A great solution for protecting your dog’s feet has been provided by Healers. Their Urban Walker’s dog boot is anti-microbial, and super easy to put on your dog’s feet. They feature a wide strap, and a no slip lining for superior fit and comfort while wearing. Best of all, the Urban Walker boots are great for protecting your dog’s feet from uncomfortable terrain, and also extreme heat and extreme cold. As an added bonus these boots are sold in pairs so you can make sure that your dog gets boots that fit both front and back paws.
Fourth, now that you have made sure your dog is healthy enough to come with you, and you’ve made sure that you are prepared and have thoroughly planned your route, you’ll want to make a checklist of things to bring. Before you leave, make sure to grab:
Water for your dog and a travel bowl - Even if you are only going to be outside for a short while, it is important to make sure that you and your dog stay hydrated. Make sure to provide adequate water and a clean vessel for them to drink from. The Cool Pup Portable Dog Water bowl is a great option for this kind of product. Not only does it feature a handy carrying case that you can fold the bowl into when it is not in use, but it also features a non toxic freezer pack that inserts into the bowl which you can use to keep your dog’s water nice and cool. If you are going to be gone for a long time, make sure to bring some food or treats for your dog to snack on. As with your dog’s water, you will want to make sure that you provide an adequate source of energy for your dog as well, since the two of you will be expending a lot of energy while you are outside. One important side note: If you are camping, make sure to securely store your dog’s food and treats away from your campsite to prevent any unwanted encounters with scavenging animals like bears and raccoons.
Bags for your dog’s waste - Undoubtedly while you are outdoors, your dog will have the urge to relieve itself. Despite what many think, just because you are outdoors and no one can see you, it is still important to pick up after your dog. Make sure you are prepared for this eventuality and have bags on hand for disposal.
First aid kit for dogs - No one likes thinking about their dog getting hurt while they are outside, but the natural world is an unpredictable place and it could happen. It is important to make sure that you are prepared should something bad happen, and have a dog focused first aid kit on hand. Generally speaking, it’s a good idea to have a kit that contains bandages, athletic tape,and tweezers. The kits offered by RC Pets are great for this, and contain almost everything you could need in one convenient place. Gloves, Gauze, Bandages, Tape, and Antiseptic wipes are only a few of the items you receive when you purchase one of their pet first aid kits. Ask your vet about your dog’s needs specifically if you think that your dog may require additional first aid. It is also a good idea to make sure that you have a cell phone on hand, and that you know where any nearby vet’s offices are located in case your dog needs emergency attention.
Night lights - If you are planning to go night hiking or jogging or any other sort of outdoor activity that takes place in the dark, make sure that you have a way to see where your dog is at all times. This will also allow other people and animals to see where your dog is, and prevent any nasty surprises from occurring. Nite Ize makes a range of water resistant dog lights that are bright and durable and easily attach to your dog’s harness or collar.
Leash - Ah yes, the all important leash. Make sure that you have a leash for your dog before you plan to take them outdoors. This may seem like something that goes without saying, but many people think differently. Even the most well trained animal might go wild and run off to investigate a new smell or an unfamiliar animal. A sturdy leash will prevent this from happening. Additionally, it is not recommended to use a retractable leash while in the woods, as these leashes can allow the dog too much freedom to roam and can also get tangled on tree branches which may cause your dog to choke. A shorter leash is recommended for outdoor excursions. Never let your dog off the leash when you are outside.
Up to date identification - You should make sure that your dog’s identification is up to date as well, and that the leash and/or collar you are using has that information displayed prominently. The dog’s tags should have the current phone number where someone can reach you, a family member, or a friend should your dog get away from you and become lost. Many dog owners choose to microchip their dogs just in case this ever happens, and the dog’s collar becomes lost.
This list might seem like a lot of things to remember, but these tips are merely simple considerations that one should make before leaving the comfort of the indoors, and venturing outside with their dog. If you make it a habit to go over this checklist in your mind every time you plan to leave the house, in no time it will become second nature to do so. Remember you're doing this to help keep your dog safe, and make sure you both have a good time playing outdoors. Keep these tips in mind, and you’ll be sure to spend the warm months of Spring and Summer frolicking in the sun for months to come!