Be Prepared for Emergencies When Walking Dogs Off Leash
One of my favorite things to do with my dogs is to hike with them off leash. But over the years there have been several occasions where mine or my friend’s dogs have gotten into trouble. Only preparedness and clear thinking carried us through the situation.
First and foremost, always try to walk or hike with a friend. That way if something happens and either you or a dog gets hurt and are immobile, the other person can go for help.
Make sure your dog (and you) have proper identification so that if you get separated you will be able to have your pet returned. Some people will put their cell phone number on their dog’s tags so that if they do get separated in the woods the person finding your dog will call your cell. Of course, cell phone coverage may be spotty or non-existent so consider having more than one number on the tags.
While it is essential to keep a pet first aid kit in your car, it is also a good idea to carry one with you while hiking. If not a full first-aid kit then at least carry some minimum supplies like gauze and an ace bandage. Another thing you can do to be prepared is to take a first-aid course or buy a first-aid book so that you know how to treat certain injuries. Slashed paws, torn arteries, dog fights, bee stings and other animal bites are some of the more common injuries. If you are hiking in an area where cell phone reception is poor you may have to take immediate action. Without first aid supplies handy and at least some basic knowledge of how to treat the injury, you might not be able to help.
Always know where the nearest 24-hour emergency animal hospital is. Often when hiking we do it away from home. So while you may know where the 24-hour emergency animal hospital is close to your home, when hiking elsewhere you might not know where to go unless you looked it up in advance. If you have a cell phone, program in your vet’s phone number as well as the phone number for the emergency clinic so that you can call in advance allowing them to get prepared or offer any advice. If you have a GPS, program in addresses for any 24-hour emergency animal clinic you might be hiking. This is also true if you are traveling out of state with your pup. Get the name of the 24-hour emergency animal hospital in that location too.
Finally, keep a copy of your dog’s rabies certificate and dog license in the car just in case they lose their tags and you need to prove they do have the necessary vaccination.
With any luck, you will never need this advice, but it is better to be prepared in advance. Happy hiking!