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Tuesday, December 18 , 2018, 3:32 am | Fair 48º


Last Dog Days of Summer: Hike Safe with Your Pooch

Santa Barbara is home to several hiking trails and offers some of the most breathtaking views in California.

Experiencing one of these hikes is a great way for you and your dog to get some exercise and to unwind; however, if not adequately prepared, hiking can be a dangerous activity.

Santa Barbara Humane Society is an expert in pet and large animal rescue and professional safety and rescue training through its Technical Rescue Training program, and it has collected a list of tips to ensure both you and your dog have a fun and safe hiking experience. 

» Bring a leash. Hiking on a trail with other dogs, wildlife and people can be very exciting and distracting for you and your dog. Your dog should have basic obedience and be able to walk on a loose leash.

» Don’t overdo it. Ease in to a fitness routine if your dog is a couch potato. Start with shorter hikes to stay in tune with your pup’s stamina.

» Pay special attention to your dog on hot days. Dogs can overheat very quickly because they do not sweat. Bring plenty of water and remember to give your dog a chance to cool down if they seem overheated. Temperatures can rise quickly as you hike up a trail due to the lack of shade and water. Dogs can only cool themselves off by panting, but if the air is hot and they are dehydrated, they can easily suffer from heat exhaustion.

» Apply sunscreen to both yourself and your dog. If your dog has white or light-colored fur, apply sunscreen on them to prevent sunburns. Human sunscreen can be toxic to pets, so ask your veterinarian to recommend a pet-safe sunscreen for your dog.

» Bring the necessities. Make sure to bring dog tags with your contact information, your dog’s current rabies license tag and bags to scoop up the poop. 

» Don’t wander off. Stay on the trail for your dog’s safety as well as your own. You don’t know what you might encounter in the vegetation or under rocks, so be aware of rattlesnakes, scorpions and foxtails.

» Protect your dog from fleas and ticks. Bring a tick removal tool with you on the hike (available at most pet stores) and be sure to use a safe topical medication once a month or as advised by your veterinarian. It can take up to 24 hours for the medication to fully absorb. For large dogs, you may want to put the medication on several places along his or her spine for faster absorption.

» Be polite to other fellow hikers on the trail. Pull your dog to the side when passing other hikers. Always let horses and cyclists pass you first.

» Be considerate of other dog owners. Always ask a dog owner first if your dog wants to meet an approaching dog. Not everyone will be ready to meet a strange dog; asking first and walking up slowly to the other dog usually allows for a friendly greeting.

Have fun!

— Flannery Hill is a publicist representing Santa Barbara Humane Society.


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