Summer is a great time for getting out and active with your dog where you can both enjoy seeing new sights and - for your dog - taking in new smells. It is also a chance to stretch your legs.
There are already several steps you should take while hiking to keep your dog in good shape and prevent injury, such as staying within your dog's ability levels and watching out for overheating. But there are also some valuable steps you will want to take after returning from your hike to make sure that your dog is comfortable and will be ready for your next outing.
After Hike Care for Your Dog
When you get done with a hike, you probably have a number of things you like to do yourself, like shower, enjoy a post hike beverage, and stretch out on the couch. There are a few things you can do for your dog as well to help her feel relaxed and speed any necessary muscle recovery.
The different care you can provide for your dog include:
- Watching for Heat Exhaustion - Your dog can still be at risk for overheating even once you are done hiking. Watch your dog on the ride home and in the hours following the hike for intensive panting, lethargy, glassiness in the eyes, or vomiting. These could all be signs of overheating.
- Continue to Provide Water - Give your dog plenty of water to rehydrate, but limit her to a few sips at a time so she does not vomit.
- Look for Bugs - The outdoors are a great place for your dog to pick up fleas and ticks. Do a quick check for any bugs, especially beneath their arms and legs, in the groin area, and underneath her ears, and pull off any bugs. A bath may be necessary if your dog has thicker or longer hair.
- Check for Pulled Muscles or Injuries - If your dog is favoring a paw, moving slowly, or not jumping as usual, she may have pulled a muscle. Usually time and rest are enough to heal this if you simply take it easy over the next few days.
- Give Your Dog a Massage - A massage will feel as good to your dog as it would to you after a hike. For your dog's massage, you can rub down the muscles in the hind legs, chest, and at the base of the tail using firm pressure in a circular motion. You can also gently stretch out her legs to help relieve muscle tension. Go slowly during this process and be careful not to twist or unnaturally bend your dog's legs.
- Provide a Meal - The workout will make your dog hungry, but hold off feeding your dog for 30 minutes or more. Eating before that can cause an upset stomach or bloating. After 30 minutes is up, you can feed your dog as normal.
With any activity that you and your dog do together, pay attention to how your dog is feeling and always check with your vet if any unusual behavior lasts more than a few days. With the right care and post hike recovery, most dogs will love the exercise of a hike and you and your dog can enjoy the outdoors all summer long.