Well friends, it’s been a little while since our last blog post, but as usual, I was inspired by a recent travel experience. Like many of us, my travel has significantly reduced in the past couple of year, but I recently took a short trip out to California with my husband, John. Although we stayed right near the beach, we were drawn into the mountains to check out a few local hikes. We decided to try a hike near Malibu called Sandstone Peak-we were so impressed! The weather was gorgeous with bright shining sun, the thermometer reading about 75 degrees, and beautiful fragrant wildflowers blooming all over the place. Like most hikes in the hills of southern California, the hike started at low elevation and went steeply uphill. The trail was well marked and relatively crowded, but rocky and sandy. After a couple of miles, we encountered a small group of young women all gathered around an adorable 30 pound blonde pup named Tofu. I noticed that Tofu was holding one of her paws up, and while I didn’t want to overstep, I asked if their dog was ok and if they needed any help.

As it turned out, this was Tofu’s first longer hike of the season, and her paws weren’t conditioned yet to the rocks and hot sand. She had a large blister on one of her paw pads such that the top layer had peeled back, and she was not willing to walk. I was very impressed with her mom-she had brought a small first aid kit for Tofu, and I was able to help her wrap up the paw to prevent further damage while Tofu made her way back to the car, and then to her vet! The young women of course decided to turn back at that point, but even a 30 pound dog is quite heavy to carry when you’re walking two miles on a rocky trail! Tofu was ok, and all things considered, this was a relatively minor injury. That said, it reminded me of a few important things to consider when hiking with your dog.

First, if your dog isn’t used to hiking/walking on all types of terrain, you plan to go longer than usual, or it’s hotter/colder than normal, you might want to consider hiking “shoes” or booties. There are certain types that are made specifically for hiking, and work very well to help protect your pup’s paws! Second, ALWAYS make sure to bring plenty of water for both you and your pup—you never know when you might need it. Third, you never know when your pup might get injured, a bit too hot, or become ill. Dogs (even smaller dogs) are surprisingly difficult to carry for any length/distance, especially if they don’t love being carried. I highly recommend investing in a lightweight emergency sling-these are meant to fit into your backpack, and can save lives. Last but not least is an up-to-date first aid kit! These can be tailored to your dog’s size and the general area that you’re hiking. If you’d like guidance developing an awesome first aid kit that fits your dog’s exact needs, please reach out—we’d be happy to help!

Thanks for reading, friends, and happy hiking! ☺

-Dr Lisa