Hitting the trail with your pooch is one of the sweetest perks of dog ownership in Park City. But in the same way that you wouldn’t hike in bare feet or pedal without a helmet, some prep will help ensure that Fido stays safe while getting into the wild. We asked Dr. Katie Domann, medical director at Park City’s Powder Paws Veterinary Clinic (2780 Rasmussen Rd, 435.649.1221), to share some tips for keeping pups healthy and happy in the great outdoors.
How much water should you take on a hike or a bike ride for your dog?
The focus should be on frequency rather than quantity. Offer small amounts of water every 10 to 15 minutes. If they only take a few laps, that’s OK. What you want to avoid is allowing your dog to become dehydrated, which can lead to overheating.
What are the signs that your dog is getting too hot?
Lethargy, fast panting with his tongue hanging way out, sitting in the shade, and diarrhea or vomiting are all signs that he is too hot and on the edge of heat stroke. If your dog collapses and/or has a seizure, you need to cool him off slowly, offer small amounts of water, and get him to a vet immediately; the prognosis is much better if a dog receives medical care within 90 minutes of the onset of heat stroke.
Does the rattlesnake vaccine really work?
We now recommend rattlesnake avoidance training versus the vaccine, which we found was simply not that effective. An even bigger danger to Park City dogs is porcupines, which dogs can be trained to avoid as well. (Editor’s note: Active K9 Training Center offers both rattlesnake- and porcupine-avoidance training classes for groups and individuals. 6450 Highland Dr, 435.901.4349)
Are there any parasites or other bugs dogs can pick up out on the trail?
Giardia is the parasite we see most often in Park City dogs. It’s a protozoan that lives in water and soil and is very common in standing water like puddles and ponds. This is another reason to make sure your dog has access to water all day and that you bring water for her when you hit the trail or a dog park with a pond. Dogs can also carry parasitic worms that are harmful to humans, particularly children, which is why if your dog is around other dogs often, it’s important to give her a once-a-month heartworm and intestinal parasite pill, such as Heartgard Plus.
How old should your dog be before you take her on an extended hike?
Again, we always recommend frequency over quantity: three short walks are better than one long one per day. That said, most dogs over age one can handle a two-hour hike with lots of breaks for water and rest. We all know a dog that seems to love an all-day hike, but all dogs are going to keep going when they’re hurting. What you want to avoid is crossing the line from a fun and healthy jaunt to forced exercise.