Ensuring a Safe Hike for Dogs and Humans
Fall’s penchant for placid afternoons and cool (but not too cool) mornings has done much to burnish its reputation among hikers, many of whom have grown to prefer the occasional chilled breeze to consistent roasting when taking in scenic beauty. Just like their human admirers, dogs have been known to delight in some open-air revelry once the leaves start to turn, and who among us would ever want to stand in the way of their happiness?
Though it brings us no pleasure to exclude felines from the discussion, it is simply a matter of public record that cats seldom enjoy the toil of lifting their paws on polished hardwood floors–let alone gravel, dirt, and fallen branches. For those of us whose tail-toting companions do possess an innate need to explore the outdoors, here are a few recommendations we feel can go a long way toward ensuring a safe, enjoyable hike for you and your dog.
Start at the Beginning
If no other piece of advice should make an impression, we at PhytoSmart sincerely hope that readers will at least spot some merit in this first point. Please verify that the trail you intend to hike permits dogs well before you lace up your boots and reach for the car keys.
Hydration, we’ve found, is never a bad idea for humans or animals, particularly those who are engaging in strenuous or protracted physical activity under conditions of any kind. It is always better to be accused of bringing too much water on your outing than not enough, and pet parents should do everything possible to discourage their dogs from availing themselves of streams, ponds, or puddles, even if that means having to carry an extra quart or two for your “plus one”. Ensuring that both you and your dog remain well-nourished before, during, and after your excursion is no less important, so don’t be afraid to pack another bag of nutrition-rich snacks if space permits.
Not All Trails Were Created Equally
Hiking, even for the four-legged, requires a good deal of prudence and an understanding of one’s limits. The tendency to ascribe domesticated animals supernatural properties of resilience and might based simply on the premise of “Well, they’re animals, right?” does not serve hikers or their companions particularly well, and demanding more of your pet than you ever would a human adult only renders them more susceptible to fatigue, injury, and exhaustion–none of which is any more pleasant for pets than it is for pet parents. Consider not only the duration and rigor of the hike you plan to undertake but the overall physical fitness and wellness of your dog at the present time, and bear in mind that, regardless of their current physique or age, not all breeds will handle off-road excursions (or sustained exposure to the elements) with the same ease and assurance.
Sticking to the Buddy System
For all the purgative sway that the weather exercises, natural environments do not retain their beauty simply through chance. If it’s considered a good idea to remove your pet’s trace elements from a paved sidewalk, then it’s almost certainly a good idea to remove them from the woods, the fields, the shore, or anywhere else that may host life from time to time as well. It’s also probably worth noting that respect can take many forms, and cleaning up after a recently-relieved dog is not the only practice hikers must observe when treating themselves to the splendor of nature. Never forget that you are merely a tourist in the great outdoors, and the local wildlife (plants and animals alike) that call a given recreation area home are best left undisturbed–for everyone’s benefit. Always keep your dog on a short leash, no matter how well they may know the trail or how much visibility your vantage point may offer. Boundless enthusiasm for the natural world is certainly a commendable trait in homo sapiens and canines alike, but outside of certain “no-leash” clearings that are built to handle unrestrained (yet disciplined) dogs, it is best to play it safe and stick with the leash for the entirety of your hike. Other “tourists” and their sniff-happy companions are sure to appreciate your compliance with this principle as well.
How to Deal with Hitchhikers
Among the host of nature dwellers awaiting you on your trek are, unavoidably, some less-than-cuddly critters as well, like fleas and ticks. Seeing as we have previously addressed the perils that these creatures pose in and around the home, it should come as no great shock to learn that avoiding these seasonal nuisances is even more critical when immersing your dog in the freewheeling world of nature. Each outdoor adventure should be followed by a thorough inspection of your dog’s coat for any uninvited guests, and a post-hike bath would not be out of place either.
Getting in Hiking Shape
Safety and preventative measures are not meant to be reserved just for the day of the hike. Even active, youthful dogs who appear to be in peak health may struggle once subjected to the realities of the three-mile trail. Fitness, like hygiene and nutrition, is an ongoing, variable process and one which may need to be augmented to better prepare your dog for their latest excursion.
As an all-natural, efficient resource that can help condition your dog for the level of physical exertion your favorite hiking trails demand, SmartZYME™ offers a convenient, reliable solution rooted in natural processes and the most nutrient-rich nutritional elements currently available to consumers. Our 100% organic, non-GMO supplement restores and fortifies pet health from the inside out, all thanks to the manifold health benefits in our raw Omega-3 DHA enzymes, which are cultivated and packaged right here in Maine. Learn more about the “science behind” SmartZYME™ and DHA nutrition when you visit phytosmart.com/the-science, and give your “best friend” the boost they need to make the most of fall.