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Backpacker Magazine – May 2008

The Cure: First Aid For Fido

Dogs can get hurt on the trail just like you. Here's how to treat 5 common problems.

by: Gretchen Bergen

Photo by Justin Bailie
Photo by Justin Bailie

Injured paws are easy to spot, but many canine ailments are difficult to diagnose. Unlike other hiking partners, your dog can't tell you what hurts. To help you help him, we consulted veterinarian Michael J. Brooks. The former backcountry ranger, who camps with his Pekingese-Yorkie in Colorado's Indian Peaks Wilderness, offered this advice.

Paw Injuries
Dog paws–like human feet–require conditioning to tackle longer hikes and rougher terrain. To protect against cactus spines, thorns, and sharp rocks, try nylon booties like Ultra Paws Durable Dog Boot ($30, gearfordogs.com), or rubber-soled Bark'n Boots ($60, ruffwear.com). Remove the booties every few hours to let the dog's pads–which contain sweat glands–air out. Treat wounds like you would on your own foot: clean and bandage.

Dehydration
"An average dog requires one ounce of water every day per pound of weight," says Brooks. That means a 45-pound dog needs about 1.5 quarts per day, and more in hot weather. Check for dehydration by pinching the skin on your dog's upper back. If it doesn't quickly rebound after you let go, your dog needs water. Sunken eyes and dry mouth are other indicators. For water on the go, attach a collapsible dish ($20, kelty.com) to your pack.

Heat Stroke
Fewer sweat glands mean dogs–who vent excess heat primarily through their nose and tongue–can't cool themselves as easily as humans. They need frequent hydration, shade, and rest on hot days. Overheated dogs act sluggish and confused and pant excessively. Look for a dry mouth and nose. To treat an overheated dog, find shade and pour cool water on its belly and legs, where blood collects.

Hypothermia
Like children, smaller dogs lose body heat fast. Hypothermic clues include dilated pupils and constant shivering. If your canine is huddling with you, he's cold. "Bring your dog into your sleeping bag," says Brooks.

Ticks
During spring and summer, apply over-the-counter tick protections like Frontline or Advantix, and try to keep your dog away from dense undergrowth. If you find a tick during a nightly check, remove it by grasping it close to the skin with tweezers and pulling gently until it comes out. Apply a disinfectant or antibiotic ointment to the wound site.



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READERS COMMENTS

Star Star
JamesS
Apr 18, 2014

Deltazen...regardless of timeline (since I was not yet a subscriber in 2008)...your advise is easily adaptable to spouse, children and personal vehicles...whats yer point?

Star Star Star Star Star
OldTrailDog
Dec 07, 2013

I will respectfully disagree with Deltazen. A good stock dog can be a valuable tool in the back country for managing stock and dissuading unwanted company, e.g. growly bears. Unquestionably a good dog needs to fully understand that game isn't part of the job and that people are to be treated with respect, and with permission, love. They are a great companion when alone. Regarding paw treatment I wholly agree with pre, or constant, conditioning as part of owning animals, stock or dogs. Having said that, many years ago I did use some stuff called Coppertox or Kopertox, for horses hooves, to treat paw pads.

Star
deltazen
Dec 06, 2013

May 2008 - my, what nice fresh content!

1st Aid for dogs? - easy, leave them home!

You'll love each other even more when you get back. You'll see more wildlife. You won't have to worry about them getting hurt, being attacked, or placed in threatening position by humans making dumb decisions.

Sure Lewis and Clark had a big Newfie along, but dogs don't belong in the wilderness. Less pain in the ass for everybody if you'd just leave them home.

Richie
Jan 19, 2009

If your dog gives you trouble with booties on their paws another thing you can try is called "Mushers Secret" My hiking partner has a Huskie and he let me try some on my boxers paws the last time we hiked. It is like a waxy paste that you rub on the dogs paws. It protects your dogs paws from ruff surfaces, mushers use it on their sled teams hence the name...lol But it does save your dogs paws somewhat if they refuse to wear shoes.

Mac
Dec 25, 2008

My two German Shepherds (one of whom has only three legs) would never forgive me for hiking without them. With only 3 legs, pad/paw health becomes WAY more important! I would like to hear more about first aid for paws, rather than just the suggestion to use boots.

Lynda
Oct 21, 2008

A couple of weeks ago myself and my 12-year old daughter found ourselves in the position of having to drag/carry our 135 lb Great Dane 3 miles down a mountain (using a hoodie as a make-shift stretcher) because he got blistered/cut paws on our hike. He didn't give us any warning - just suddenly lay down and refused to go any further. A passing mountain-biker lent us an inner tube which we used to reinforce the bandages on his two cut paws, but by the time we'd got him down the mountain, all 4 paws were cut up and we then spent 3 hours getting him patched up at the Emergency Vets! Needless to say, we went out and bought him rubber booties the very next day!

animal lover
Oct 16, 2008

Please remember to spay and neuter your pets!

Mike Puleo
Oct 06, 2008

Another way to remove a tick is by rubbing it in a clockwise/counterclockwise direction, which apparently causes the tick to get dizzy and fall off. I've not tried this myself, but I've hear many people say that it works.

Kyle
Sep 21, 2008

I take my dog on nearly every hike I go on. During very hot days I try to pick trails with swimming holes or streams so my pooch can cool off. He is a black dog and gets overheated easily.

babysgotbackpack
Sep 08, 2008

I find my dog will always let me know when he wants water. We have a sort of system, he'll usually find the next shady spot and will sit and wait for water. If you and your dog have a good relationship he/she will give you tell's to let you know, you just have to be observant to read them!

Larry Shields
Aug 08, 2008

Thanks for the advice. I hike quite a bit in the mid-west with my Aussie and some of this I did not know or think about before now.

JC
Jul 18, 2008

IVE TAKEN MY RETRIEVER ALL OVER FROM CANYONEERING WITH RAPPELS TO WEEKS IN THE BACK COUNTRY NUMBER 1 RULE IS TO BE PREPARED AND THIS INCLUDES PREPPING YOUR BUDDY. YOUR RESPONSIBLE AS AN OWNER TO LOOK OUT FOR THEIR SAFETY. DEHYDRATION IS OUR NUMBER 1 THREAT IN THE OUTDOORS. MAKE SURE YOUR NEAR A WATER SOURCE ON MULTI DAYS AND BRING PLENTY OF WATER ON SINGLE DAY TRIPS ESPECIALLY ON TRIPS WITHUT RUNNING WATER. CHECK FOR TICKS AND WOUNDS WHEN CAMPED. AND IF YOUR DOG IS COLD BRING THEM INSIDE YOUR SLEEPING BAG. NOTHING WORSE THAN HAVING YOUR PUPPY OR DOG SICK BECAUSE OF THE COLD MAKE SURE YOU GET A FIRST AID KIT AND BOOK FOR PETS ITS VERY HANDY.

JC
Jul 18, 2008

IVE TAKEN MY RETRIEVER ALL OVER FROM CANYONEERING WITH RAPPELS TO WEEKS IN THE BACK COUNTRY NUMBER 1 RULE IS TO BE PREPARED AND THIS INCLUDES PREPPING YOUR BUDDY. YOUR RESPONSIBLE AS AN OWNER TO LOOK OUT FOR THEIR SAFETY. DEHYDRATION IS OUR NUMBER 1 THREAT IN THE OUTDOORS. MAKE SURE YOUR NEAR A WATER SOURCE ON MULTI DAYS AND BRING PLENTY OF WATER ON SINGLE DAY TRIPS ESPECIALLY ON TRIPS WITHUT RUNNING WATER. CHECK FOR TICKS AND WOUNDS WHEN CAMPED. AND IF YOUR DOG IS COLD BRING THEM INSIDE YOUR SLEEPING BAG. NOTHING WORSE THAN HAVING YOUR PUPPY OR DOG SICK BECAUSE OF THE COLD MAKE SURE YOU GET A FIRST AID KIT AND BOOK FOR PETS ITS VERY HANDY.

Lou Maxson
Jul 11, 2008

I hike with my dogs all the time. But I did not know any of this stuff. Thank you for this artical.

tpmcman
Jul 05, 2008

I bring my 2 best friends when camping. My wife and my dog. Over heating is probably the thing that most ofthen effects my dog. If you pay close attention to your dog while hiking you will know what they need when they need it. We take plenty of breaks and drink plenty of water.

skafish
Jun 26, 2008

i love dogs

Wes
Jun 18, 2008

Great. Mostly common sense stuff, but it's nice to see something written for us folks with dogs. Maybe next time we'll get some more in depth situations such as snake bite or broken leg. That should be interesting.

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