Happy Trails And Tails To You – Tips For Taking Your Dog On A Nature Trip

Spending time in the great outdoors is one of the best ways to bond with your pooch. Whether you decide to hike some trails or go kayaking together, your pup would appreciate the chance to discover new places and, perhaps, meet other adventurous canines. The only drawback? The potential for injuries or illnesses. That's why proper preparation before a trip and then keeping an eye on your dog for signs of illness after you've spent time exploring are very important. 

Pup-aration Tips for the Great Outdoors

Before heading out on an adventure, make sure that you pack the following:

  1. Portable, collapsible water and food bowls. There are several different types on the market today, including pop-up silicone and waterproof fiber material versions. You should also bring a supply of fresh water. Your dog should never be allowed to drink from natural water sources. 
  2. Doggy life jacket. If you'll be on the water, have your dog wear a life jacket. It could save their life, even if they know how to swim. Recently a dog who was wearing a life jacket fell off a boat and was found swimming three hours later in the Gulf of Mexico. 
  3. ID tags. In the event, you and your pup are separated, ID tags could help reunite you and your pet. You may also want to consider microchipping your pooch. Collars and tags can fall off, so an embedded microchip is a more permanent form of identification for your pet. 

Pitfalls and Problem Puddles for Pooches

Nature can be full of surprises, so that's why it's important to always keep your pet leashed. These surprises can range from the yucky -- a spray from an angry skunk -- or deadly -- a snakebite. In addition, even the best-trained dog may be tempted to head off into the wilderness if they spy a rabbit or a squirrel and could then end up lost. And while you may hesitate at ruining all of your dog's fun, it is best that you keep them from wandering around in tall grass where they could potentially pick up a few ticks. These little nasty creatures could transmit several disease to your pet, including but not limited to:

Other dangers may be lurking in the water your pup decides to play in or drink. They could, for example, ingest water that has been contaminated with the bacteria leptospirosis. This bacteria is found mainly in muddy or stagnant water where wildlife that carry leptospirosis, such as skunks, mice, or raccoons, live. When this bacteria is ingested by a dog, it will eventually travel to their liver or kidneys, which can cause life-threatening complications. So if you notice that your dog is excessively thirsty, is lethargic, or has a fever and you've taken it to an area where it could have come in contact with water contaminated with the bacteria, take your dog to a veterinary hospital quickly for diagnosis and treatment.

Giardia is another parasite that pups can pick up by drinking water from a natural water source. If your pooch picks up this bug, they may become lethargic and start to lose weight. Your dog may also have a strong-smelling diarrhea that has a frothy appearance and may contain a lot of mucus. If you suspect that your dog may picked up this parasitic infection, ask your vet to have them tested. If results from the testing come back positive, your vet will then prescribe drugs to rid your pooch's system of the parasite. 

Paws-i-tively Fine

Don't, however, let these possible issues keep you from hitting the trails or the waterways with your pup. Just remember to always take the proper precautions and to watch your dog carefully.