While hiking in the countryside provides a fantastic opportunity for both you and your dog to explore and burn off some steam, there are hidden dangers out there that we need to be aware of. Dogs can easily pick up infections, parasitic infestations and even injuries when rambling off the beaten track and it’s our job to keep them safe.
Nature is well and truly alive and kicking in our local woods and countryside. Whilst it’s a pleasure to see the squirrels and birds going about their business, the same cannot be said for those teeny tiny pests that like to live off our animals. Many, such as the lungworm, are not visible to the naked eye making them even trickier to avoid. To keep the risk of parasites low we should:
- Ensure our dogs’ parasite prevention is always up to date, whether this means flea and tick collars, tablets and/or spot-ons. Speak to your vet to make sure your pet is covered – not all parasite control is equal.
- Keep an eye out to ensure they are not eating things that they shouldn’t. This includes things like rotten meat which has been left out and may contain worms. Similarly, discourage them eating other animal’s faeces and always bag and bin their own poo.
- Avoid slugs, snails and frogs as they are known to transmit lungworm when ingested. Their slime also poses a risk. Therefore, discourage your dog from licking the ground they have been on or puddles they have been through.
- Check our pooch from nose to tail after every walk, checking for visible parasites such as ticks. These are solid, shiny critters that start off small and grow over several days. The sooner they are removed, the lower the risk of them transmitting disease.
A disease that has been widely talked about in the media. Alabama Rot is a relatively rare condition of unknown origin that can lead to kidney failure and even death. There is a suspected link between this condition and mud. Therefore it is advised to thoroughly clean off any mud after every outing. Though it can be a worry, owners should not see Alabama Rot as a reason to curtail walks as it is really very uncommon. If you spot any skin lesions around the legs and paws, get these checked by a vet if you are concerned about Alabama Rot. For further advice on Alabama Rot >
Water, Water Everywhere…
- Always carry a bottle of water for your dog in case they get thirsty or begin to overheat.
- Do not let your dog drink from stagnant water sources. They can be a source of blue-green algae and diseases such as Leptospirosis.
- Use a towel to thoroughly dry your dog after every swim. It is especially critical to dry the ears (inside and out) of those dogs with pendulous ears to prevent ear infections from developing.
Safety First in the countryside
There are a number of things we, as responsible dog owners, can do to help prevent mishaps and injuries while on a stroll in the countryside:
- Consider using a reflective harness or collar so your pet is easily visible in all weathers.
- Ensure your dog’s recall is excellent if they are to be let off the lead, in case they suddenly decide to take chase after a deer or squirrel, never to be seen again.
- Avoid walking in areas where livestock may roam as some breeds have a tendency to worry them. In fact, it is a criminal offence for a dog to bother livestock on agricultural land.
Stick to well-known routes and avoid getting lost. Well-trodden paths tend to be easier for dogs to navigate and there is less chance of an encounter with livestock or a wild animal such as a fox.