Nothing feels better than having a day off from work and going to the forest or nearest trail for a hike, except when it’s done with a pet.
Our dear dogs and cats (yes, cats too!) are actually adventurers at heart. They were once wanderers of nature before becoming men’s companions, so outdoor activities are part of their innate being.
This article is a complete guide for the pet owner before, during, and after hiking with your pets. Read on to know more before hitting the trail!
What to Do Before Hiking with Your Dog AND Cat
Get a health check
Even if your pet looks tough enough for long walks, it may still be hiding a condition; whether mild or severe, that will make it incapable of hiking. This means that you need to consult with your vet first in order to make sure that your furry friend is physically fit and protected from diseases through vaccinations.
If your pet is too old (or young) or gets tired easily, it does not need strenuous activities like uphill hiking. Only a quick walk in the park is recommended for it, especially since its immune system might also be too weak to handle unfamiliar places.
Nevertheless, your canine or feline is never too young for a free exercise! Take note of the difference between free exercise and a forced one.
Your companion may also be diagnosed with a specific disease that does not allow it to go hiking. Inherent characteristics like short muzzles found in Brachycephalic breeds make dogs possess low endurance and tolerance to heat that may lead to stroke.
Is Your Pet Well-Trained?
This section is more likely to be a preparation for dogs since cats won’t need to learn how to sit, stay, and come. All you need for these kitties are proper socialization, a leash or harness, and enough muscular strength to carry them mid-walk if they ever get lazy.
Train your dogs to follow commands through whistles. They will also be required to stay obedient with or without the leash by not going too far.
This will be a critical part for scent and sight hounds or dogs that get overly-excited over new places; especially forests. Moreover, make sure they are well-socialized to avoid barking and other issues when encountering other pets or people.
Once your pet is trained for the activity, start practicing small hikes – adding more distance and hardness day by day. This not only teaches it proper manners but also toughens its paws and builds its stamina, making it more ready for the escapade.
Consider the weather
Check the weather forecast on the date of your hike. Extremely hot or freezing temperature along with rain or too much sunlight may result in injuries.
Your pet should be equipped in such kind of weather. Otherwise, just cancel or reschedule the trip.
It’s time to pack up!
Whatever and wherever the adventure is, make sure you have the following pet camping items, as this infographic from PurringPal shows you:
- Food and water
- Collapsible bowl
- Pet sleeping pad
- Pet-friendly antiseptic
- Antibiotic ointment
- Poop bag
- Collar with name tag
All these things are necessary to make the backpacking a success and to experience no further problems or discomfort. Pet first-aid may add weight to what you’re carrying, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
Let people know that your pet is friendly
You shouldn’t be scaring off bypassers or fellow hikers during the hike. Make sure both you and your pet are always calm and tell the people that your friend is totally harmless. You can also tell your dog to heel when people are approaching.
Panting and drooling are signs that your pet needs to rest. Take a 10-minute break, give it water, then off you go again.
Also, remember not to let it drink stagnant water which may be home to multiple parasites and bacteria.
Cats can be carried since they are not as heavy as dogs.
Keep the environment clean
Leave no trace on every area by collecting every dirt that you and your pet produce, especially poop. Some cats and dogs are smart enough to bury theirs on the ground, while some need assistance from you in disposing of the trash so make sure you have a shovel.
Bury the poop far from locations that people actually go to. Even if you have a biodegradable bag, make sure you still leave it in the proper place.
Furthermore, don’t let you pal ruin plants, chase other animals or make the place dirty.
Get some sleep!
Don’t expect your pet to be so energetic when coming home from a really tiring hike. Let it sleep soundly and have sweet dreams about its memorable adventure.
Check your pet
After regaining its energy from a doze off, check your pet for wounds, ticks or fleas.
It would even be much better if it gets consulted by a vet because some symptoms; especially after a long hike, may not be evident through senses and will require tests.