First Aide for Fido on the Trail

Dogs can get hurt on the trail just like you. Injured paws are easy to spot, but many canine ailments are hard to diagnose because your dog can’t tell you what hurts.  Here’s how to treat 5 common problems.

Paw Injuries
Just like human feet, dog paws require conditioning to tackle longer hikes and rougher terrain. To protect against cactus spines, thorns, and sharp rocks, try nylon booties.  Remove them every few hours to let the dog’s pads air out. Treat wounds like you would on your own feet (clean and bandage)

An average dog requires one once of water every day per pound of weight.  That means a 45-pound dog needs about 1.5 quarts per day, and more in hot weather. Check for dehydration by pinching the skin on your dog’s upper back.  If it does not quickly rebound after you let go, your dog needs water.  Sunken eyes and dry mouth are other indicators.

Heat Stroke
Dogs have fewer sweat glands and vent excess heat primarily through their nose and tongue. As a result, dogs can’t cool themselves as easily as humans and need frequent hydration, shade and rest on hot days. Overheated dogs act sluggish and confused and pant excessively. Look for a dry mouth and nose. Treat by getting the dog into shade and pouring cool water on its belly and legs.

Smaller dogs lose body heat fast and symptoms include dilated pupils and constant shivering.  If your dog is huddling with you, he’s cold and you should bring your dog into your sleeping bag to warm up.

During spring and summer, apply over-the-counter tick protections and try to keep your dog away from dense undergrowth. If you find a tick, remove it by grasping it close to the skin with tweezers and pulling gently until it comes out.  Apply a disinfectant or antibiotic ointment to the wound site.

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