Hiking with your pet dog is a great way to rejuvenate and bond and get a good workout. However, taking your dog out for this strenuous activity without preparation can unleash various consequences, with one of them being- injuries.
Moreover, owners hardly consider something bad happening to their pets. However, when you’re on rough surfaces like trails and mountains, not having the same access to emergency care can definitely get in the way of tackling emergencies.
Here are some common dog hiking emergencies and how to recognize them.
#1 – Contact with Poisonous Plants
Since most dogs are naturally curious and playful, letting them off-leash means that they will most likely explore their surroundings and come in contact with poisonous ivy. This could cause itching and skin rash in the affected area.
However, you may want to look out for any possible opportunity of them ingesting poisonous plants. While the former issue can be dealt with using hydrocortisone cream, the latter will require immediate attention from the vet.
#2 – Scratches on Paw Pads
While we normally assume for a dog’s paw pads to be tough, they can easily be scratched or exposed to injuries on a sharp rock or a rough trail. Hence, in the event this happens, make sure to wrap their paw in a bandage after applying a little petroleum jelly.
This way, you’ll be able to protect the wound from dirt and also provide it with extra padding. Even though cuts of this intensity often heal within a few days, don’t hesitate to call your vet for any other safety and health recommendations.
#3 – Insect Stings
Even though most dogs have a nice coat to protect them from bee stings, it, unfortunately, doesn’t provide them with complete protection. Some of these stings can even cause intense bodily reactions if not dealt with immediately. Typically, the symptoms of insect stings include discomfort, redness, swelling and itchiness.
For starters, determine whether the stinger is still there; and in case it is, attempt to remove it with tweezers. Secondly, make sure to have over-the-counter Benadryl in your dog’s first aid kit at all times, as it often comes in handy when dealing with insect stings.
#4- Strains and Sprains
Again, while dogs have great agility on rough terrains, they are not entirely immune to occasional strains and sprains. However, the good news is that, even if a single leg is injured, they still have three more to hobble out without making a fuss. Nonetheless, it’s good to detect these strains and sprains early so you can treat them in time.
Some common symptoms of strains and sprains include discomfort to touch, swelling, limping. In rare cases, there may evern be deformity of the limb. However, don’t assume every injury to be a strain and make sure to check the footpads carefully.
When it comes to treating these sprains, you may want to include a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug into your dog’s first aid kit, of course, after consulting your veterinarian. Make sure to not use aspirin for an NSAID (Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug).
You may also want to restrict your dog’s exercise for a while. All in all, the best way to figure out whether your dog is suffering from a strain/sprain is to look out for any signs of limping during a hike. If you do end up detecting it, just head home and save the big miles for another day.
#5 – Heat Strokes
If you notice your dog dragging their feet or lagging behind, it may be feeling a little too hot. This should be your sign to stop by in a shady spot, hydrate them and let them rest for a while before heading forward again. On the other hand, it’s also a good idea to apply some cool water on your dog’s legs and stomach to help them heal faster.
However, no matter what, never ignore signs of a heat stroke because it may turn out to be life-threatening if left untreated or uncatered to. While hydration is the best way to avoid a heat stroke, it’s usually recommended that you avoid hiking on an extremely hot day.
#6 – Animal Bites
Poisonous plants are not the only dangers awaiting your pet dog. Violent encounters with other animals are also a possible threat lurking on the trails. Hence, if they do end up getting into a scuffle with another animal, it can be hard to break it up since you could also get hurt in the process.
However, once the incident has died down, look for any signs of bites or cuts on your pet’s body and treat them with your first-aid supplies. If the wounds are deeper than what they looked like initially, take your dog to the vet immediately or apply pressure to slow their bleeding down before you get there.
What First-Aid Supplies Should You Include in a Dog’s Hiking Bag?
Fortunately, there are many regular first-aid items that are just as applicable to dogs. Some of them include antiseptic and bandages (for wounds), saline solution (for an eyewash), anti-inflammatory medicine, cotton swabs, tick removal tool and tweezers.
Additional Items to Add to their Hiking Bag
Wrap it up
Again, hiking is one of the best adventures to embark on, especially with your pet dog. From spending time together to providing your bodies with the much-needed workout, there are a number of benefits you can reap from a good day’s hike. However, going unprepared can be hazardous to both you and your dog. Remember, a hiking trail is not the most predictable spot when it comes to accidents or injuries.
Hence, before you head out on a hike, make sure to provide your dog with plenty of exercises so by the time they’re there, their body is able to deal with the strenuous activity. Secondly, choose dog-friendly trails. Last but not least, learn a thing or two about packing your dog’s first-aid kit properly.