As much as we may not want to admit it, our bodies are not made of steel, but of flesh and bone, and can endure injuries, especially on the trail. Like us, our dogs can be injured on the trail, and with such eager and seemingly oblivious attitudes sometimes, they don’t even realize or care when they do hurt themselves. Knowing some of the more common injuries that dogs experience when hiking, along with preparing before hitting the trail, can prevent such injuries from happening. Keep reading to learn how to do this.
Perhaps the most common injury that occurs in dogs is a sprain, which is often the result of inactivity during the winter months. This four or five month winter period of rest causes their muscles to lose tone and weaken. This is a recipe for an injury if your dog’s activity level suddenly jumps significantly during the first days of spring. Before you set off for a hike with your dog, it’s important to work them back up to a reasonable level of fitness. Minor strains and sprains don’t require medical attention, but you should call it a day and let your dog rest.
Another common injury is worn pads on your dog’s paws. A dog can overuse the pads on his paws, which causes sores, abrasions and burns. Check your dog’s pads periodically to watch for wear, and for longer trips, I’d even consider having them wear a pair of canine boots.
Abrasions can afflict man’s best friend as easily as they afflict man. Abrasions are minor compared to some other injuries, though, as they stay superficial on the skin and might only cause minor bleeding. Just like a scrape on a human, abrasions aren’t life threatening, but they do need thorough cleaning.
A more serious injury risk for dogs is being burned by the campfire or a dropped pot of hot water, as these can be mild or life threatening. In such cases, cool the burn with cool water and head to the vet.
Lacerations result from blunt trauma and can cut into deeper tissue. Everything from barbed wire to branches can cause lacerations while your dog hastily makes its way down the trail. Lacerations tend to be more serious, as they might require stitches. In any case, though, clean the wound and head to the vet as soon as you can to prevent infection.
Even though dogs are closer to the ground, have four legs, and tend to be lighter on their feet, a simple misstep or fall can cause a broken bone. If this happens, carry your dog back to the trailhead and seek medical attention immediately.
As enthusiastic and unworried as dogs can be, this carefree attitude can sometimes get them into trouble. On the trail, this can mean injury. The injuries outlined above are among the most common to afflict dogs while hiking, so keep the tips mentioned in mind the next time you hit the trail with your own canine.