Before bringing your furry friend on a hike, consider these important things.

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Animal shelters emptied out amid the COVID-19 pandemic as people adopted furry friends to quarantine with through 2021. But the adventures you may have planned with your pet may need some rethinking, according to the National Park Service.

The service is urging people to reconsider hiking with their dogs after three dogs died on the trails in July. Additionally, NPS and local search and rescue teams in Los Angeles and Ventura County reported about a half dozen canine rescues already in 2021, a year that has seen scorching temperatures across the West.

“Keeping canine companions safe during a hike requires planning and a heavy dose of realism,” Ken Low, an NPS ranger at Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, said in a press release.

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This doesn’t mean you have to stop bringing your dog on all outdoor adventures, but you should step back and re-think if your dog is fit enough to join you on the trail. Factors to consider include age, breed, and experience, according to the NPS. Even though pictures of your puppy might be cute, the NPS notes that their bones are still growing and may not be ready to take on a hike.

According to the American Kennel Club, dog breeds that are better suited to go hiking are the Siberian Husky, Australian Shepherd, German Shorthaired Pointer, Vizsla, Australian Cattle Dog, Weimaraner, Bernese Mountain Dog, Rhodesian Ridgeback, Alaskan Malamute, and Portuguese Water Dog. If you are still unsure if your four-legged friend should join you on a long hike, consult your veterinarian.

You don’t have to exclude hiking with your pet completely, as long as you’re patient and wait for the appropriate time to hike, according to the NPS. “Wait for cooler weather before heading out on a hike with your four-legged friends,” Low said. “We helped rescue two dogs from the Sandstone Peak area in the western part of our mountains on a recent weekend and it was over 90 degrees. People don’t realize that dogs can succumb to heatstroke in just 15 minutes.”  

If you do choose to bring your furry friend, make sure you have the right amount of water. Even though we think our pets are similar to us at times, their bodies function differently than ours, including the way they sweat. Dogs pant to cool themselves off but this puts them at a higher risk of overheating on the trail. 

For more information, read the NPS guide to enjoying the outdoors with your dog.

This Came from the 2021 Waters of the West Issue—Read It Here!

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