Welcome back to Buckley Veterinary Hospital’s monthly pet care column. With some great weather the past couple of weeks, we are crossing our fingers for an awesome summer. With visions of boating, barbecues and hiking in days ahead, this month we are highlighting taking your dog, or dogs, on hikes and some important points to ensure a fun and safe trip while protecting and sustaining nature’s beauty.
The information in this piece is provided to you in part by Washington Trails Association, whose mission is to preserve, enhance and promote hiking opportunities in Washington state through collaboration, education, advocacy and volunteer trail maintenance. We’ve also combine literature from BACKPACKER magazine which inspires and enables people to enjoy the outdoors by providing some of the most trusted and engaging information about backcountry adventure in North America.
Have you been hiking with your dog? It is a great form of exercise and an awesome bonding experience for you and your furry family member. The dog is super happy – spending time with its human companion and strengthening that human- animal relationship, overwhelmed with excitement with all of the smells and getting tuckered out (great for letting puppies and younger dogs exert energy). It gives you that extra incentive to get out of the house, hike to a beautiful destination and get great exercise.
Hiking with a dog is different than hiking with another person. There are several things to consider before you head out. The first is taking into consideration where you can and cannot hike with dogs and where you need your furry family member leashed. Once you find a destination there are a couple things to consider including what to bring and some pretty common sense pet-trail etiquette.
Here's a rundown of some rules specific to certain lands across Washington compiled by the Washington Trails Association:
• National Parks – Dogs are prohibited on all trails in Mount Rainier and Olympic national parks. They are also not allowed on trails (except the Pacific Crest Trail) in North Cascades National Park. In addition, dogs are not allowed on beaches in Olympic National Park, except Rialto Beach 0.5 miles north of Ellen Creek; all Kalaloch beaches (from Ruby Beach south to South Beach); and the Peabody Creek Trail.
• National Forests – Dogs are generally permitted on U.S. Forest Service trails. There are several areas, however, where dogs are not permitted or must be on leash:
– Enchantments and Ingalls Lake Trail - Because of heavy hiker use and the fragile ecosystem of these areas, dogs are not allowedanywhere in the Enchantments Basin and on the Ingalls Lake Trail.
– Alpine Lakes Wilderness - There's no easy way to summarize, but a good rule of thumb is if the trail leads into the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, you're generally required to have a dog on a leash. This includes most trails accessed along I-90 and on Highway 2 west of Stevens Pass. Leashes are also required on several popular trails in the Wenatchee-Okanogan National Forest. There are several exceptions to the above rules, including trails in the Middle Fork Snoqualmie area.
– Other leash-only trails - There are several other trails on the national forest where leashes are required. Always check at the trailhead and bring your dog's leash.
• Washington State Department of Natural Resources - Most Washington State DNR trails, including Mount Si and Tiger Mountain, require that dogs be on a leash at all times.
• Washington State Parks - Dogs are welcome at state parks but must always be on a leash. Dogs are not allowed at swimming beaches.
• King County Parks - Dogs must be leashed on all King County trails, including Cougar Mountain Regional Park. Rules and regulations can vary from trail to trail, so check at the trailhead for posted information. Or call the local ranger station. Once you’ve selected a location, you want to consider the length of the hike and what to bring to keep your pet healthy.
Make sure you are packing enough food and water if it’s a longer hike or involves overnight camping. Use your own thirst as a guide and offer water when you stop to drink – every 15 to 30 minutes, depending on trail difficulty and temperature.
An important health risk to consider in our area is that dogs can pick up internal and external parasites from nature as well as other dogs that have been on the trail. Avoid drinking from lakes and streams unless you treat the water prior to prevent exposure to parasites such as Giardia that can be prevalent in many areas around us. Pack out what you pack in – especially dog poop!
Build up to longer trips (with both adult dogs and puppies) with a series of shorter hikes to toughen paw pads and develop stamina. Prevent paw-pad cuts and scrapes with dog booties you can purchase at REI or other outdoorsman shops or make them with a simple Sunday afternoon DIY project, using fabric (mid-weight nylon, fleece, denim) and Velcro strips.
Also important to remember when on busier trails is that other folks may be hiking at a faster pace without a dog so be aware of your surroundings and pull to the side of the trail to allow other to get around your group if necessary.
Make sure your dog/s are current on all of their vaccines, have flea/parasite prevention on a routine basis, and are microchipped in case you get separated when traveling and hiking with them. Please contact your veterinarian if you have additional questions; they are the best resource for information about the health and well-being of your furry family member. The true goal is prevention of illness, pain and suffering; to help you, as a pet owner, provide a longer, healthier and happier life for your best friend.
Thank you to our readers – we welcome you back next month. As always, send questions, comments, or suggestions for future columns to us at email@example.com. Get out there and give your pets plenty of exercise this summer and embrace every sunny day we get here in the ol' PNW.