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6 Things You Can Do to Keep Your Dog Healthy While Hiking

The San Diego area is a great place to take your dog for a hike, but you want to make sure he stays safe and healthy while doing so. San Diego's backcountry is also home to a lot of hilly, rocky terrain as well as wildlife. While most dogs love to get out and hike and are eager to spend time with their owners, it's up to you to make sure your dog is ready and doesn't get hurt.
Here are six things you can do to make hiking safe and healthy for your dog.
1. See Your Veterinarian First
If you're planning to hike a lot with your dog, you should have them examined by your veterinarian beforehand. You want to make sure that your dog is capable of strenuous activity and doesn't have any hidden illnesses or injuries. Also, you can check to make sure your pet's shots are up-to-date in case there's an unexpected interaction with wild animals.

2. Bring a Leash
Most trails require all dogs to be on a leash and will charge you a fine or even evict you if you fail to follow the rules. The leash also protects your dog from getting hurt as they explore and from getting attacked by other animals. Some people are also afraid of dogs and may not appreciate a dog running up to them.
Don't assume your dog will respond to your voice commands unless they’ve gone through training and will respond to your commands nearly all of the time. Most dogs can get easily distracted.

3. Carry Plenty of Water
Just like humans, dogs also need to stay hydrated and drink extra water while the trail. Be sure to bring along a collapsible bowl as well. Don't let your dog drink from puddles or other bodies of water. You can also invest in a dog pack so that your dog can carry his own accessories on the trail. Make sure it fits properly and doesn't contribute to overheating.

4. Be Mindful of Air Temperatures
Dogs can't cool down as quickly as humans can and so your dog might not do very well if you’re active in the middle of the day. They cool themselves by panting and if you are moving quickly, then your dog may not be able to pant efficiently to keep cool.
If the weather forecast calls for hot weather where you are planning to hike, then it might be best to leave your dog at home or go during the cooler parts of the day.

5. Take Care of Your Dog's Feet
While there is some debate as to whether or not your dogs should wear booties on the trail, it's important to take care of your dog's feet while hiking. There are many hazards that can hurt a dog's feet. Check your dog's feet for cuts and thorns frequently and treat them with first aid.
If your dog has not had much time on trails, then start out slowly before going on a long hike on a rocky path.

6. Protect Against Parasites
Parasites abound on the trails, and it's important that you prepare and treat your dog so that they can fight against the parasites. In addition to not letting your dog drink anything other than the water you bring, you should also apply creams and sprays to protect against biting insects.
Make sure your dog also gets preventative treatment for internal parasites as well. Check your dog thoroughly for any bugs or plants when you're done hiking.
Hiking with your dog can be fun, but you want to make sure your pet is healthy for the trip. Be sure your dog is up for the trip before you go, and contact South San Diego Veterinary Hospital for an examination. We offer both traditional and alternative treatments to any health problems.