First Aid Tips for Dogs on Hiking Trips

Man petting a dog
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Dogs are the ultimate hiking companions providing companionship and alertness.

While hikes can be exciting and exhilarating, accidents can happen too. That’s why it’s important to be prepared to handle common injuries and illnesses on the trail. Knowing first aid tips can help keep dogs healthy, safe and comfortable while enjoying the great outdoors.

In this blog, we’ll share some first aid tips for dogs on hiking trips.

First Aid Tips for Dogs on Hiking Trips

1. Bring a First Aid Kit

A well-stocked first aid kit not only prepares owners for tackling injuries but can save the dog from unnecessary pain and stress. The kit should include items such as antiseptic wipes, bandage material, tweezers, scissors, thermometer, and hydrogen peroxide.

You can buy ready-made first aid kits for dogs from Amazon.

2. Look Out for Injuries

Dogs are prone to injuries when playing, hunting, and hiking.

While on a hike, owners should check their dogs for cuts, scrapes, and insect bites. If there is a cut or wound, clean the affected area and cover it with gauze. Check for any overgrown nails which may break or cause pain before going on a hike.

Be mindful of their paws – the ground on hiking trails can be rough, hot, or cold, and could damage your dog’s paws. Regularly check their paws for any signs of injury such as cuts, blisters, or lodged debris. If you notice limping or refusal to walk, it could signal pain or injury. For extra protection, consider using protective dog booties or paw wax for added protection. Always carry a pet-safe antiseptic for cleaning any wounds and bandages to cover them.

3. Monitor the Dog’s Temperature

Heatstroke is a common ailment amongst dogs during hikes.

That’s why it’s important to monitor your pet’s temperature regularly and provide ample rest and water breaks. If the dog displays signs of heat exhaustion, such as rapid panting and lethargy, move them to a shaded area and lay a wet towel on them.

4. Watch Out for Dehydration

Keep your dog hydrated during a hike.

Dogs need water on hikes, especially during summer.

As a rule of thumb, plan on carrying one liter of water per dog and provide them with water every 15 minutes. If the dog still shows signs of lethargy and sunken eyes, it may mean that the dog is dehydrated. That’s just one of the reasons why it’s important to pay attention to your dog’s body language during hiking.

5. Stay Calm During Emergencies

Dogs can sense their owner’s anxiety during emergencies, which will further fuel their panic. In case of an emergency, such as a broken bone or major injury, owners should stay calm and reassure their dog. If bleeding is severe, use a tourniquet, or tie a bandana tightly around the wound to stem the bleeding, and rush the dog for medical treatment.

The same applies to wildlife encounters – it’s important to stay calm.

6. Recognize Signs of Distress

In addition to physical injuries, hiking can also cause emotional stress in dogs.

Be aware of your dog’s body language and watch out for signs of anxiety, such as excessive panting, drooling, shaking, or whining. It’s vital to acknowledge these signs of distress and take appropriate action, which may include taking a break, offering comfort, or deciding to end the hike early.

Camping with a dog
Camping with a dog

Two Extra First Aid Tips Tips for Hiking With a Dog

7. Be Prepared to Carry Your Dog

Depending on the size of your dog and the severity of the injury, you may need to carry them out of the hiking trail. A dog carrier, sling, or a sturdy blanket can be used to comfortably transport your dog in case of an emergency. Practice lifting and carrying your dog at home so you’ll be prepared if you need to do it on the trail.

8. Avoid Harmful Plants and Animals

While on a hiking trail, it’s crucial to be aware of the surrounding environment and protect your dog from potentially dangerous encounters.

Certain plants can be toxic to dogs, causing skin irritation, gastrointestinal problems, or other severe reactions. Similarly, encounters with wildlife can lead to injuries or disease transmission. Keep your dog on a leash at all times and stay on marked trails to minimize the risk. If your dog does interact with a harmful plant or animal, seek veterinary care immediately.

It Is Your Responsibility

As dog owners, it’s our responsibility to keep our pets safe and comfortable while hiking. It’s our responsibility being prepared to recognize important signs of life-threatening conditions. By carrying a first aid kit, monitoring the dog’s temperature and hydration, and staying calm during an emergency, we can ensure our furry friends remain healthy and happy during the hiking trip.

Featured photo by Matheus Bertelli

Please note that the information provided in these articles is intended for informational purposes only and should not replace professional advice from a veterinarian or dog trainer. Always consult with a qualified expert before making decisions regarding your dog’s health, well-being, and training.

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