With the onset of nice weather, taking your dog into the wilderness can be extremely rewarding. With all the sensory stimulation the outdoors provides, you’ll see a side of your pet that you might not have witnessed before. Watching him fully engaged, tail wagging, nose to the ground and in the air, prancing back and forth with his tongue lolling is an experience we recommend to every dog owner.
However, you definitely need to be prepared. There are obviously more dangers in the woods and fields than there are just walking him around the neighborhood. For example, what about hazardous plants? Can dogs get poison ivy? Well, the basic consensus is that they are pretty much protected by their coat. The toxic substance in poison ivy and poison oak is urushiol, which is an oil resin. Since dogs mostly come in contact with it by rubbing against it while walking, it will adhere to their coat but won’t touch their skin. It can then however be transmitted to humans if they touch or pet the dog. If you’re in an area and you see poison ivy, it’s best to rub the dog thoroughly with a towel and, if possible, shampoo him with an oatmeal based shampoo. If you do see that your dog has a rash in an area with no fur, you should have him examined by a vet.
Don’t Try This at Home: Our brave CEO Smudge Kingsley doing the “Poison Ivy Test”. Or maybe he’s just happy. Or nuts.
Other things to think about when going into the wilderness with your pet:
- DO NOT take your dog off the leash. Even if she is well-trained and obedient, she might fly off at the sight of another animal and get lost in unfamiliar surroundings.
- If you’re camping, most campgrounds that accept pets require them to be on a 6-foot leash. Many will not allow them to sleep outside and require them to be in a crate or in the tent.
- Even when leashed, never leave your dog unattended. There’s always the possibility of an unpleasant encounter with other animals or travelers.
- As discussed, find out about hazardous plant life in the area–not only poisonous but other plants–like cactus–can physically hurt your pet.
- Be vigilant in checking your pet for ticks, foot injuries and dehydration. Give her fresh drinking water and don’t let her drink from questionable sources found in the wilderness.
Above all, have fun! Though there are dangers, if you’re properly prepared. the rewards outweigh the hazards.