Hiking with Your Dog in the Desert
Water & Snacks
The Soroptimist Challenge takes place during the cooler parts of our year here in Southern New Mexico. However, you may still encounter warm weather, especially in the afternoon.
Be sure to carry enough water for you AND for your pet. Your dog will need as much water as you do — or more. Bring a portable pet water bowl. If you are planning to be on the trail long enough to need snacks or lunch, bring something for your dog, too. Hiking burns a lot of calories for people and dogs.
Rest & Shade
Give your dog rest time in the shade no matter how well conditioned he is. When you see your dog seeking out the scant shade of a cactus or desert shrub, he is probably trying to tell you it’s time to stop and recuperate. A damp towel (carried in a plastic ziplock bag) can help your dog cool down faster. Remember that heat exhaustion is very common in dogs. Early signs include rapid breathing, heavy panting and salivating. Other signs include fatigue, muscle tremors and staggering. Don’t allow your dog to get to this point. If he does, take him to the coolest, shadiest place available and apply wet towels or cloths to help the dog’s body cool down. Try to give the dog small amounts of water and contact a veterinarian as soon as possible.
It is best to keep your dog leashed on hikes. You may encounter rattlesnakes and small and large critters year round. Most dogs are excited by movement, and often curiosity and the hunt and chase instincts trump even the best obedience training. Don’t let your dog terrorize small creatures or chase the larger, faster ones.
Pick up after your Dog
In dry desert air, the evidence that your dog has visited tends to mummify rather than decompose. Please don’t leave it for hikers to discover years from now. Bring “doggie bags” and do “carry out.”