Hiking with your dog can be a fun and rewarding experience, but it’s important to be prepared for any emergencies that may arise. Just like humans, dogs can suffer from a variety of injuries and illnesses while out on the trails. In this article, we’ll discuss some common injuries that dogs may encounter while hiking, what to do when they happen, what to carry in a first aid kit, symptoms to watch for, and other important information for dog owners who want to take their furry friend camping and hiking.
First Aid Kit for Hiking with Dogs
Personally, I do not take my pillow princess hiking because it would not end well for many reasons (I have a Kangal).
But, I hike and camp with my friends who bring their dogs, and depending on where and what type of hiking and camping we are doing, depends on what they bring. (And I am often guiding them on what to bring.)
Before we dig any deeper, be warned I do NOT have a medical back treating animals. So now for the BIG DISCLAIMER… the information in this post is not meant to replace the advice of your veterinarian. It is highly recommended that you consult with your veterinarian before administering over-the-counter medications to your pet.
We will start with the type of incidents that could happen with your furbaby and then the recommended items to include in your first aid kit for your dog.
Dog Injuries While Hiking
Below are the possible incidents that could happen when you are hiking and camping with your dog:
Cuts and abrasions: Dogs can easily cut or scrape themselves on rocks, branches, and other sharp objects while hiking.
Heat exhaustion: Dogs can overheat quickly in hot weather, especially if they are not used to the heat or if they are overweight or have a thick coat.
Dehydration: Dogs can become dehydrated if they don’t have access to water or if they are exerting themselves too much on the trail.
Poisoning: Dogs can ingest toxic plants or chemicals while hiking, which can cause a range of symptoms from vomiting and diarrhea to seizures and organ damage.
Sprains and strains: Dogs can twist or sprain their joints while jumping or running on uneven terrain.
- Dogs can be bitten by a variety of creatures while hiking, including snakes, spiders, ticks, and other insects.
- If you suspect that your dog has been bitten, look for signs of swelling, pain, redness, or puncture wounds around the bite site.
- If you suspect that your dog has been bitten by a snake, look for two puncture wounds or fang marks, as well as symptoms such as vomiting, drooling, weakness, and breathing difficulties.
- If you suspect that your dog has been bitten by a tick, remove the tick as soon as possible using tweezers or a tick removal tool. Be sure to grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible and pull it straight out with steady, even pressure.
- If you suspect that your dog has been bitten by an insect, look for signs of swelling, itching, or pain around the bite site.
- Treat bites by cleaning the wound with saline solution or water and applying a sterile dressing. If the bite is severe or causing your dog significant pain, seek veterinary care immediately.
What to Do When an Injury Occurs:
- Stay calm and assess the situation.
- If the injury is severe or life-threatening, seek veterinary care immediately.
- If the injury is minor, clean the wound with saline solution or water and apply a sterile dressing.
- Monitor your dog’s vital signs such as breathing, heart rate, and temperature.
- Give your dog plenty of water to drink and keep them hydrated.
What to Carry in a First Aid Kit:
- Sterile saline solution or water
- Sterile gauze pads and rolls
- Adhesive tape
- Antiseptic wipes or solution
- Hydrogen peroxide
- Cotton balls or swabs
- Blanket or towel
- Insect repellent
- Emergency phone numbers (veterinarian, animal poison control, etc.)
Symptoms to Watch For:
- Limping or favoring one leg
- Excessive panting or drooling
- Vomiting or diarrhea
- Disorientation or confusion
- Seizures or tremors
- Excessive thirst or urination
- Swelling or pain in a joint or limb
Other Important Information:
- Before taking your dog hiking, make sure they are up-to-date on all of their vaccinations and have had a recent check-up with the veterinarian.
- Carry plenty of water for both you and your dog, and offer water to your dog frequently.
- Check your dog’s paws regularly for cuts, blisters, or other injuries.
- If you are hiking in a tick-infested area, use a tick preventative on your dog and check them for ticks regularly.
- Be aware of the signs of heat exhaustion and dehydration, and take breaks in the shade or near water as needed.
- Consider carrying a backpack for your dog to distribute the weight of their supplies and to prevent them from carrying too much weight on their back.
It’s always a good idea to be familiar with the local wildlife and potential dangers in the area where you’ll be hiking with your dog. Keep your dog on a leash to prevent them from encountering potentially dangerous creatures, and be aware of your surroundings at all times. If you suspect that your dog has been bitten by a venomous snake or other dangerous creature, seek veterinary care immediately.