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Happy Trails: 3 Doggie Health Hazards to Avoid While Hiking

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Taking your favorite animal companion along on your hikes is the perfect way to encourage better health and bonding. Yet, it is important to keep in mind that spending time in the wild is much different than walking along the sidewalks at home. On the trail, your dog will encounter many different situations that could pose a risk for their health and safety. As you prepare for your hike, keep these potential health hazards in mind so that you can take the proper precautions.

Streams and Shorelines

While hiking, keeping your pet hydrated is one of your main priorities, and nothing is more fun than watching your dog romp around in the water. Unfortunately, mountain stream water is sometimes filled with parasites that can make your puppy sick. It is also important to avoid letting your dog eat salmon or trout since they could be infested with a parasite that is dangerous for dogs. According to Washington State University, symptoms such as vomiting, weakness and a lack of appetite could appear within six days after your dog eats raw fish. Since most dogs do not recover without treatment, it is critical to take your dog to the animal hospital right away if you notice any intestinal symptoms following your hike.


On the trail, you will need to be aware of your dog's abilities. Puppies especially are prone to injury on the trail due to growth plates in their legs that do not fully harden until they are between 9 to 16 months old. During this time, hikes that are too long or treacherous could cause long-term injuries. Even older dogs may pull tendons during a leap off of a large obstacle such as a boulder. When in doubt, find another route, or consider carrying your dog over obstacles that cannot be avoided.


While many hikers worry about big predators on the trail, one of the biggest threats to your dogs health is the tiny tick. Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Ehrlichiosis are all potential diseases that can be transmitted to your dog. To prevent ticks, visit your vet before the hike to choose an appropriate treatment, then avoid letting your dog run off the leash in areas where ticks thrive such as tall grass. Finally, perform a thorough check of your dog's coat upon returning home since removing them quickly reduces the risk of disease being transmitted to your dog.

Whether you hike in the mountains or along the coast, running along the trails with your dog is a fun way to get some exercise. For the safest experience, always have a checkup done before hiking season to make sure your dog has no underlying illnesses or injuries that could be a problem on the trail. Resources like My Rancho Bernardo Pet Hospital can help. Then, plan your route while keeping an eye out for potential doggie hazards so that you can both enjoy exploring in the fresh air and sun.