DENVER (KDVR) — With the warmer weather, local pet parents may be planning some upcoming adventures with their dogs. Many dogs love accompanying their human family members on hiking trips, and hiking can be an excellent way to bond with your dog while enjoying the outdoors at the same time. If you’re looking for a fun way for your pet to get some exercise, dog hiking is a great activity.

Dr. Kerri Nelson at VEG in Denver has some helpful common dog hiking risks every pet parent should be aware of and how to avoid them.

Bites and scratches from other animals – Most trails will require dogs to be leashed, but if you are in an off-leash area it is important that your dog has a reliable recall so you can be sure they will return to you if there is another animal in the area.

Heatstroke – Let your dog rest in the shade often and provide plenty of clean cool water for both of you. Avoid going on dog hiking trips during the middle of the day when it is hottest outside.

Falls and other acute injuries – Map out your trail ahead of time so you know where you’re going, and do not stray from the marked paths. Don’t let your dog off-leash in areas with steep falls, cliffs, or very overly rocky terrain, and be prepared to leave your hike early if your dog is injured.

Ticks and tick-borne illnesses – In some regions, Lyme disease is extremely prominent, and your vet will likely recommend the Lyme disease vaccine for your pet. Be sure to talk to your vet about topical tick preventatives or tick collars that can be used while hiking. Additionally, make sure you check your dog for ticks every evening after you’ve been hiking. 

Exposure to Toxic Plants – Learn how to recognize toxic plants in your hiking location so you can keep your dog away from them—and so you can avoid them, too! In general, all types of mushrooms and berries should be avoided. If you know your dog frequently eats plants they find on hikes, consider altering your plans for your pet’s safety.

Standing Water – Avoid letting your dog drink from any standing water which can harbor infectious diseases. The best practice is to only allow them to drink water that you bring for them on the hike. You may also want to discuss the leptospirosis vaccine with your veterinarian.