Summer With Furry Friends: How to Safely Enjoy Outdoors with You Dog
By Nushin Huq
Between 2 Pines Magazine
For many families, a family trip includes their dogsl, especially this year when people might be hesitant to hire a dog sitter during the COVID-19 pandemic.
While a camping or hiking trip sounds like a perfect trip to bring your furry friend, it’s important to educate yourself and take the proper steps to make sure your dogs stay safe on your next outdoor adventure.
The first step in a successful outdoor trip is to check regulations. Many parks have pet restrictions in order to protect the natural environment. You might envision taking hikes with your pup, but if there are rules against dogs on trails at your preferred destination, your plans will fall flat.
Also, do some research on potential dangers to your dog, such as what venomous snakes are in the region.
Just like you pack a first-aid kit for the family, pack first-aid supplies for your dog, Christopher Lewis, a Humble, Texas veterinarian, said. Lewis is the Medical Director of Animal Emergency Clinic North East.
The first-aid kit can be the same one you have for yourself, except pack bandage material instead of bandaids.
Bring veterinary approved pain reliever. Dogs process pain killers for people, like ibuprofen and some types of NSAID, differently and these can be toxic for them, even a low levels, Lewis said.
If your dog has storm phobias, also pack anti-anxiety medication as well as any other medication they take.
Finally, pack cooling towels and rags.
Out All Day
When you’re on an outdoor trip, whether it’s camping or just a hike, make you have plenty of water for both people and dogs. It’s important to make sure there is available shade and places for frequent rest stops, Lewis said.
If you plan on hiking on very rough and uneven terrain, consider purchasing hiking booties for dogs, Lewis said. These are available in most pet stores and online. You will need to acclimate the dog to wearing these items prior to use on a trip.
The most common outdoor activity-related injuries Lewis sees is:
Lameness - from athletic injuries, falls, overwork
Heat stress/Heat stoke
Gastrointestinal disorders from dietary indiscretion
Heat Related Illness
The first sign that a dog is suffering from a heat related illness that you will likely see is that they want to stop.
“If they are showing signs that they are tired, it is imperative that you do not force them to continue,” Lewis said. “Take a rest, provide water and cool down the ears and feet with cooling towels or wet rags.”
Another sign to rest is if you hear and see that the normal pant becomes louder with more effort. If the dog collapses or becomes unresponsive, immediate veterinary care is needed, Lewis said.
Cool them off as noted above, and get them into a car that has been cooled with the AC running for a few minutes prior to placing the dog in the car.
Ice baths and complete submersions into water are not recommended because this can shock a system already in distress.
In the unfortunate event that a snake bites your dog, try to identify the snake if possible. This will determine the level of concern, Lewis said.
Next, take your dog back to your campsite and assess their mental activity, heart rate and breathing patterns. Don’t forget to take notes.
Also assess the bite site for swelling and bruising. If you’ve brought pain medication, you can administer that, Lewis said.
Depending on the venomous snakes in the region, you may need to drive your dog to a veterinarian even if it is several miles away.
Finally, no matter what kind of snake was seen, if you notice declines in their mentation, labored breathing, rapid heart rate despite rest, and rapidly progressive swelling and bruising are noted, veterinary attention must be taken.
This summer, pet owners also have to worry about COVID-19. Scientists are still in the process of learning about the virus, Lewis said. As of when this article was published, there were reports of one dog and a few cats that tested positive for COVID-19. None of the pets were symptomatic, and they are believed to have gotten it from their owners who were positive for the virus. At this time, there is not a concern for dogs and cats giving it to their owners, Lewis said.
With proper planning and take precautions for our friends, you can have an enjoyable outdoor adventure.