Planning to hit the hiking trails with your senior dog this summer? Here’s an action plan to keep her safe, healthy and happy!
Hiking is a great activity to enjoy with your dog. But if your canine companion is a senior, there’s a few extra things to consider before hitting the trails!
Preparation: before the trip
Although our senior dogs often slow down as they age, they still need regular exercise to maintain bone density and muscle mass. It is critical to keep their everyday fitness in mind, which may mean more frequent but lower impact exercise.
Taking a couch potato on a long hike is a recipe for disaster – for both humans and canines of any age. Instead, be sure that hiking is just one part of your golden aged dog’s overall fitness program.
Before planning a hike with your older dog, be sure that she’s had a recent vet checkup. If she’s beginning to show signs of loss of mobility, pain, or inflammation, your vet may want to prescribe medications and/or supplements to support joint health.
If your older dog is not used to long walks, then having something to help them with stiffness and soreness the day after your hike can make a big difference for the comfort of your pooch.
On the trail
Understand trail ratings
When planning your trip, one of the most important things to do to ensure success for your senior dog is to familiarize yourself with the Canadian hiking trail rating system.
Choose easy or moderate trails and plan to hike no longer than your dog’s regular walking mileage to start. If your dog is doing well, you can always do a shorter trail twice to avoid the possibility of getting too far from home and having to carry your dog back to the car.
Keep things cool
One of the biggest health concerns to be aware of is that older dogs are more susceptible to heatstroke which can be life threatening. Familiarize yourself with the signs so that you can act fast should your dog get overheated.
Another great idea is to plan trips where both water and shade are always nearby. Besides offering a low impact exercise option for your senior dog, a swim in a cool body of water such as a stream is a fantastic way to beat the heat on a warm day outdoors.
Be sure you carry lots of fresh water and a way for your dog to drink it (such as a folding dog bowl) to keep her hydrated on the trail. If possible, freeze half of the bottles of water in your pack so that it will remain cool and refreshing.
Rest and relaxation
Take frequent breaks while on your hike to help your older dog catch her breath and rest as needed. Be sure you have soft and cool bedding for after the hike so that your dog can recover in comfort.