Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Winter Hiking Safety for your Dog

Just because the weather is cooling down does not mean that your four legged friend would not like to join you for outdoor adventures. It is important for you to remember that there are some special safety considerations for cold weather. Just like cold weather hiking for humans, safety involves common sense and some critical gear. Some things to keep in mind:
  • During hunting season, be sure to check if hunting is permitted in the are you plan to hike. If so, take some extra precautions so that your pup is not mistaken for wildlife. Leashes are especially important, even if your dog does not normally hike with a leash. During hunting season, you should keep your pup extra close to stay safe. You should consider an orange safety leash and orange safety vest or at the very least an orange bandana for your dog. Don't forget the orange for yourself too! Of course, you could change your plans and go somewhere with a lower risk of either of you getting shot.
  • When hiking in the cold weather, your dog still needs plenty of water to stay hydrated, so don't forget to pack an extra bottle and a collapsable bowl.
  • You burn lots of calories hiking, so does your dog. During extended activities, it is important to remember that your dog will need a snack to keep his electrolytes in balance and maintain his energy on the trail. Either pack some extra kibble or treats designed for maintaining energy, such as Zuke's Power Bones.
  • If you are in an area with lots of snow, your dog may need special gear just like you. A flashing collar will help you keep track of your dog after he is covered in snow.
  • If you are skiing with your dog, it is important to keep your distance. The sharp edges on fast moving skis can slice and achilles or paw pad.
  • Your dogs coat is usually enough to keep him warm in the winter if he is on the move, but consider packing an dog jacket in case of an emergency. If you or your dog gets hurt and you have to stay put waiting for help, he won't be generating enough body heat to stay warm. A good one to check out is Lands End Dog Squall Jacket.
  • Snow may clump up between the toes of dogs with longer hair and cause irritation. Your pup might try to lick it off, but that will only make it wet and attract more snow. Dog booties can be helpful to prevent this. But make sure your pup is used to wearing them before using them for a long hike!
  • Just like you would with any hiking buddy, always stay close and "check in" regularly to make sure you are both feeling good enough to keep going. During snack breaks, give your pup a once over and do a quick paw check.
This post is part of Petside.com's Pet 'Net Safety Event, where pet lovers around the blogosphere are uniting today to share information about keeping your pet safe. Be sure to check their website for links to all the bloggers participating!

Wags to my buddy Lucy for help on this post--she is pictured above enjoying some back-country skiing!

[The Daily Dog Scoop was NOT compensated by the manufacturers of any of the products mentioned today]

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