As many of us know, hiking with senior dogs can be a fun and pleasurable activity for both dog and owner. With a wonderful variety of trails in the Valley, hiking is a great way to explore and bond with your pup. Here are some general reminders to ensure your outing is a success:
Always check the forecast before heading out. As we mentioned in this post on dogs and cold weather, senior dogs are especially sensitive to temperatures, so be extra careful when choosing what time of day to hike.
Always bring enough for you and an extra supply for your dog. Offer it frequently to your senior dog as they are more at risk for overheating and dehydration.
First, verify that dogs are permitted on the trail. Next, consider your dog when reviewing the length and difficulty of the trail. Senior dogs’ joints are more susceptible to arthritis and the like, so hiking can be harder for them than younger pups.
Also consider the trail terrain. A smooth, gravel trail is all right, but if you’re hiking in the desert, think about dog booties, advises the Humane Society of Southern Arizona. Needles, prickers, broken glass, and stinging insects are all potential dangers.
Your first aid kit doesn’t need to be elaborate. You can buy a kit or assemble one yourself. Be sure to include a fine-tooth comb. It’s inexpensive and makes thorn removal much easier. Tweezers are also important for thorns or splinters too small for the comb.
Breaks are a must during hikes with our senior dogs who have less endurance. Sometimes it’s hard to find a spot that’s safe for them to relax without worrying about thorns or other discomforts. A blanket or a sitting pad is a nice solution and will be appreciated.
When hiking, your dog must remain on leash. It’s almost always the law, and it’s always safest. A variety of creatures, including other dogs, could be lurking and pose a danger. Also your dog could quickly wander, get lost, and be difficult to locate in the wild vegetation.
Some dog owners mistakenly think dog waste is natural so it will simply deteriorate in a way that is harmless. It actually introduces new elements to the ecosystem and can negatively impact the local wildlife and/or water supply. So be sure to bag it and take it with you.
Good manners are helpful when hiking. You want to make sure your dog will obey you to step off the trail to allow others to pass. You also want your dog to be able to pass other hikers and dogs safely, particularly as some trails can be narrow and busy.
With a little planning, hiking with senior dogs can be an enjoyable experience for everyone. Consult a vet if you have questions.
If you’re looking for a new hiking spot, check out these dog-friendly trails in metro Phoenix. And if you’d like to make the day of one of our Sanctuary dogs, consider bringing one along on your next hike!