Are you hearing the call of the wild?
We’re lucky to live in an area with a wealth of wildlife right outside our doors, and during the summer, the call from Mother Nature is loud and clear. She’s not just calling you. It’s likely your furry friends are hearing her, too. If so, they’re probably just as eager to get out into the Great Outdoors. Maybe your Corgi has been hounding you for a hike in Shaker Mountain Wild Forest. Perhaps your Maine Coon would enjoy a boat ride around Lake George. Getting outside with your pets is a great way to bond, and it can be fun and safe as long as you remember these tips.
#1 Assess your pet’s fitness
By fitness, we mean more than physical condition, though that’s an important consideration when deciding on outdoor activities to share with your pet. Aside from your pet’s health, you should also consider their behavior, age, and training. Plan an outdoor adventure that will be enjoyable for both of you. A young, well-trained, energetic dog will get more out of a strenuous hike, while an older dog might struggle.
#2 Prepare pets for the adventures you want to share with them
You’re going to have a difficult time teaching an old dog new tricks. However, if you have a puppy (or even a particularly laid back kitten), you can teach them to join you in all sorts of fun activities, from hiking to boating. Training pets (in terms of both appropriate behavior and endurance) from a young age will ensure that your future outdoor ambitions are safe and fun for everyone.
#3 Talk with your vet
The minute a pet steps outdoors, it’s more vulnerable to fleas, ticks, and heartworms – especially during the summertime. Rabies also becomes more of a concern. Be sure your pet is up-to-date on vaccinations and flea and tick treatments before you head out into the wilderness to keep them healthy.
#4 Update pet ID information
Make sure the information on your pet’s collar is up-to-date and attach the rabies tag as well. If you’re planning to make outdoor excursions a regular part of your routine, consider having your pet microchipped to ensure its safe return if you become separated.
#5 Look for pet-friendly destinations
Many wilderness areas do permit pets on leashes; however, it’s a good idea to check the website or call ahead to make sure your destination is, indeed, pet-friendly. Some trails even allow unleashed dogs but keeping them on a leash is the safest option in most cases.
#6 Scout ahead
Even destinations that welcome pets may not be friendly for all pets. Some may have hazards like steep inclines or slick rocks that not all dogs will be able to tread safely. It’s not a bad idea to scout out a hike that you want to take with your pet ahead of time to make sure it will be manageable for them
#7 Pace yourself
Your pet’s energy may seem limitless, but don’t test the theory in the wilderness. Otherwise, you may end up hiking back carrying a Great Dane like a baby. It’s better to ease into hikes with shorter forays that gradually lengthen over days as you determine your pet’s endurance sweet spot.
#8 Stay observant
One of the awe-inspiring things about the Great Outdoors is how changeable Nature is. That makes it important that you stay alert to signs of changing weather that could startle pets, extreme temperatures, and the presence of potentially dangerous animals.
Keep your vet at Dove Creek posted!
At Dove Creek Animal Hospital, we’re always excited to see what our patients are up to. We’d love to see photos of your pet on the trail, so tag us on Facebook at @dovecreekvet. If you need to schedule vaccinations, set up an appointment with us at Dove Creek Animal Hospital or Gloves City Veterinary Hospital. You can also call to get answers to any questions about your furry friend at (518) 627-9762.