If hiking scratches your primal itch for the outdoors, the same goes for your pooch. “Hiking is a time to tell your dog: Okay, go be a dog,” says Katherine Miller, PhD, a dog behaviorist and director at the ASPCA. “Even on the same trail, every time is different. It allows them to use behaviors and instincts they were born with.”
And your dog isn’t the only one that benefits. “There’s a saying, ‘a tired dog is a good dog,’ and it’s really true,” says Miller. “If your dog is asleep, they can’t get into trouble.”
Veterinarian Laura O’Sullivan, VMD, couldn’t agree more. “I love it when I see people out on the trails with their dogs. It’s good for the dogs, it’s good for the people.”
However, Dr. O’Sullivan — who works in a 24-hour clinic that offers emergency care — also sees a lot of hiking-gone-wrong accidents. Most of the things that bring clients into the clinic are easily preventable, like heat stroke. Other dangers, like Lyme disease, giardia, and leptospirosis can also be prevented or stopped early if you know what to look for. Here’s what you need to know before you head out to the great outdoors with your canine.