Hiker with Golden Retriever in the Colorado mountains.

Colorado is home to spectacular mountain peaks with miles of hiking trails for adventurers of all levels. If you’re thinking about taking your dog with you on your next mountain trek, At Home Pet Doctor’s owner and veterinarian Dr. Richard Gastellum is an avid hiker himself, and he has some helpful hints for keeping your dog safe on the climb. 

First: Schedule a Vet Visit

To make sure your pooch is prepared for any physically demanding activity, schedule a wellness appointment, during which Dr. Gastellum can conduct and offer his recommendations on the following: 

  • A head-to-paw physical exam that includes a check for heart murmur
  • Bloodwork to look for underlying conditions that could worsen during physical exertion or at higher altitudes
  • Personalized immunizations to keep your dog up-to-date and protected from things like rabies, distemper, and parvo
  • Parasite prevention to protect your pet from the dangers of heartworm in dogs, plus the discomfort of ticks and being a dog with fleas (Although Lyme disease in dogs is rare in Colorado, there are other tick-borne illnesses)
  • Microchipping 

Prepping for Your First Hike

The first time you go hiking with your dog, start with a short trek and gradually increase the difficulty level over time. Use a fixed-length leash and make sure your dog’s collar is in good condition and has up-to-date ID tags. Take along the following essentials:

  • A travel bowl and drinking water
  • Dog food and treats
  • Pet first-aid kit
  • Paw protection, such as booties or paw balm
  • Sunscreen made just for pets
  • Pet waste disposal bags

Know When to Stop

Follow your dog’s cues and take sufficient rest and water breaks, and know when it’s time to get to lower ground. 

The following symptoms could be signs that your dog is developing altitude sickness, which can quickly escalate into an emergency situation:

  • Elevated heart rate
  • Non-stop panting
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness/unsteadiness
  • Pale gums
  • Refusal to drink or eat

Other Dog Hiking Tips and Etiquette

Always be aware of your surroundings, particularly other people and animals, and keep these hiking etiquette tips in mind:

  • Obey posted leash laws, and maintain control of your dog at all times.
  • Step aside when hikers without dogs are approaching, and give them plenty of room to pass by.
  • Don’t let your dog walk up to other hikers or pets.
  • Pick up and dispose of your dog’s waste properly.
  • Don’t let your dog destroy plants or do harm to any wildlife.

Safety Tips for the Trail

  • Keep food items, pet waste, and trash tightly sealed to keep insects and wildlife away.
  • Be aware of any drop-offs along the hiking trails.
  • Protect your dog from waterborne illnesses in rivers and streams by providing plenty of clean drinking water.

We want you and your dog to safely enjoy Colorado’s beautiful hiking trails. Please contact us to schedule a visit so we can make sure your faithful companion is healthy and fit enough to hit the trail!