The dog days of summer are back, and after a long winter we can’t wait to hit the rugged trails, beaches, and campsites that abound in our great state. Exploring the outdoors with a four-legged companion can make the experience even more rewarding, but hiking with a pet is not without its dangers. Keep our safety tips in mind as you prepare for a summer of outdoor fun.

Hiking with a Pet

They don’t call it “Pure Michigan” for nothing. With thousands of miles of dazzling shoreline and 8 million acres of available forestland in our state, there are endless opportunities for nature-loving families and their pets to stretch their legs and soak in the surroundings.

Before you grab the leash and head out for your adventure, bring your pet in for a wellness checkup at Union Lake Pet Services. We will make sure he or she is healthy enough for physical activity, and is up-to-date on the vaccinations and parasite preventativesneeded to stay safe in the great outdoors.

Four-legged Etiquette

An important component of  hiking with a pet is training and socialization. For his or her own safety, your pet should be able to heel, sit, stay, and come when called. Your pet should also be comfortable both on and off leash, and be willing to stay by your side even if every squirrel in the woods is frolicking alongside the trail or campsite.

Socialization is just as important as training when it comes to any type of outdoor activity with pets. Even in remote areas, your chances of encountering other hikers and their pets are good. If your dog is aggressive, overly protective, or prone to excessive barking, he or she will not make a good hiking companion.

Supply Checklist

Before you hit the trail, make sure you have what you need on hand to keep your best pal safe in the great outdoors:

  • Leash and collar with ID tags (microchip is a bonus)
  • Plenty of fresh water (and a collapsible bowl to drink from)
  • Food or snacks to stave off hunger and keep energy up (keep in an airtight container)
  • Pet first-aid kit
  • Plastic baggies for picking up waste

Pets can easily become overheated on warm or humid days, so be sure to take plenty of shade and water breaks!

Wildlife Awareness

Encountering wildlife while hiking is common here in Michigan, and often an exciting part of the outdoor experience. It’s important to remember that, as a general rule, pets and wildlife don’t mix. Not only can pets seriously injure wildlife, and vice versa, many wild animals carry diseases that can be passed on to pets and humans. Keep both your pet and the wild animals you may encounter safe:

  • Stay on the trail while hiking
  • Keep your dog leashed while on the trail or at a campground
  • Properly dispose of all leftover food and trash
  • Don’t allow your pet to investigate wild animals, either alive or dead
  • If your pet is bitten or scratched by a wild animal, bring him or her to the veterinarian immediately

Although there are precautions to take, hiking in our beautiful state with your pet can be a deeply rewarding experience. Give your friends at Union Lake Pet Services a call with your questions and concerns.