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True adventurers know that the escapades don’t have to stop when the temperatures drop and snow blankets the ground. Winter can create some of the most majestic scenery on earth, turning locales that are already stunning throughout the year into even more breathtakingly beautiful landscapes once the cold sets in.
If there’sone thing explorers all know, it’s that adventuring just isn’t the same unless you can bring your best friend along. Oftentimes, people believe that just because the temperature dips, they need to leave Fido at home. Not true! Many dog breeds such as German Shepherds, Akitas and Alaskan Malamutes are built for the cold weather. Even so, your dog doesn’t need to be bred for the cold to enjoy a day on the trails. Many other dog breeds like Labradors, Border Collies and Bull Terriers can enjoy extended outdoor time with you on your favorite trek, assuming you take the right precautions.
Before beginning our list of winter do’s and don’ts, there are some general precautions you should take, no matter the weather, when hiking with your pet. Start by making sure your dog is up-to-date on all its vaccinations and attach your dog’s rabies tag to its collar so that it’s visible. Then, clearly tag your animal with your name, phone number and address, and make sure his microchip information is up-to-date. Finally, if your dog is currently on any preventative medicines (i.e., for fleas, ticks or heartworms), make sure there are no wounds that could become infected.
Here are some tips for hiking with your favorite canine companion this winter season.
Choosing a dog-friendly trail is important all year long, not just in the winter. But, with winter weather comes additional safety measures that should be taken. Some winter trails are just not appropriate for dogs, even if it’s a dog friendly trail.
When heading outside in the cold weather, there are tons of items that are marketed to pets. However, only a handful should be considered essentials.
Breaks allow you to check your pet and yourself for any signs of fatigue, illness or injury. Be sure to check your dog’s paws and coat, as well. When it’s wet out, dogs will lick their paws to remove snow or ice, which inadvertently causes more snow and ice to stick to the now warm and wet spots. If your pet isn’t wearing boots, remove any ice from between his toes and towel his feet dry before beginning again. It’s also a good idea to check your dog’s coat for frozen furry patches. Look for snow chunks on places most likely to come into contact with the snow–the underbelly, tail, ears and feet.
Spring, summer, winter or fall, be sure to keep a first aid kit for you pet and yourself. Most of what you need for your pet will be found in your own kit. A styptic pencil will stop most minor cuts from bleeding quickly, and dog-specific aspirin is formulated so it will stifle pain without giving your pet stomach ulcers.
Items to include in your doggy first-aid kit include:
Now that you know the basics of safe wintertime hiking with your dog, you can go tear up some trails without worrying too much about the snowfall and ice getting in your way. Just keep all these things in mind, and always remember that safety is the single most important element of any outdoor trek, no matter what time of year it is. Happy hiking!
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