As the seasons change from Spring to Summer, many pet owners turn to the woods and forests for opportunities to hike, exercise, and socialize with their pets. Wooded areas present a number of dangers not encountered on the streets and sidewalks of neighborhoods, though, which requires a pet owner to take extra precautions before heading out the door. Listed below are ways to keep your dog safe in the woods.
Flea and Tick Preventative
Fleas and ticks live in brush, shrubs, and trees and look for a warm blooded mammal as their host. The best way to prevent your dog from falling victim to these parasites is to regularly administer a preventative pill or topical gel, or to have your dog wear a flea/tick collar. These measures will ensure that fleas and ticks die on contact, but you should still inspect your pet for insects, especially ticks, after an excursion.
Mosquitoes are often worse in wooded areas, especially if swamps or stagnant water is present. All dogs need to be on regular heartworm preventatives, especially those that are exposed to mosquitoes, which carry the disease. Many products exist that control ticks, fleas, heartworm, and other parasites in one dose.
If your dog drinks from streams or is commonly outdoors and exposed to the feces of other animals, such as rabbits, then he or she should be vaccinated against Leptospirosis. Dogs that develop this disease exhibit mild to severe symptoms include shivering, vomiting, diarrhea, lung disease, and kidney and liver failure.
Although sticks are an age-old toy that most dogs love to pick up and carry around while on a hike, they can be very dangerous. When dogs run with sticks in their mouths, they can become seriously injured if the stick catches on another object, such as a tree, or lodges into the ground by accident. Dogs that chew on sticks can have pieces of bark become lodged into their mouths, causing serious infection. Teach your dog a “drop it” and “leave it” command, and bring a safe toy, such as a tennis ball, for your dog to play with instead.
Develop a Rock Solid Recall
If you decide to trust your dog off-leash in the woods (only do so in areas that do not prohibit off-leash pets), be sure that your dog is ready to listen to you, no matter what temptations may present themselves (such as rabbits, squirrels, and deer). If in doubt, stick with a long leash instead.
Always Wear Collar and Tags
Every year, dogs are lost in forests, nature preserves, and campgrounds because their nose and curiosity got the better of them. Never take your dog for a hike without proper identification.
Bring Plenty of Water
Dogs have inefficient cooling systems and therefore require plenty of cool water in order to avoid overheating. If your dog refuses to drink water while out on the trails, add chicken broth or Kool-Aid to your water supply.
Featured image credit : artofgold/Sunny