Post-Hike Pro Tips
Just like humans, dogs enjoy certain post-exercise perks after an intense workout. We’ve compiled our list of post-hike symptoms to be on the lookout for, plus some TLC tips so that no matter where your adventures take you, your pup can recover well and get back out on the trail sooner.
Overheating is very dangerous for your dog! Remember to hydrate both before and during a hike, but it’s equally important to maintain hydration afterward too. Pace your dog with small amounts of water at a time and, for an added treat, dampen a towel and give them a cool rubdown with it. Also, be aware of the signs of overheating during/after a workout. See this blog article about overheating, but remember the following major signs:
- Heavy panting (you know your dog best, so when the panting seems abnormal, even slightly, we suggest you consider this a potential safety risk)
- Disorientation, including glassy eyes, lethargic responses, or confusion
- Brightly colored gums or tongue (red or blue)
Remember, always take your dog to the vet if you have any concerns!
Your dog may be hungry after a long hike, but did you know that eating too soon after intense exercise increases your dog’s risk of stomach issues, including bloat or a twisted stomach? The best practice is to wait a minimum of thirty minutes before feeding after exercise. Depending on your animal’s meal schedule, it might be best to wait until normal dinner and/or breakfast time.
Soreness/Stretch and Muscle Rub
Just like people, pups can get sore after a long workout/hike, especially those that are older. Keep an eye on your dog post-hike to make sure they don’t present symptoms of a pulled muscle, which may include a limp or uncommon immobility (i.e., your dog normally jumps on the couch, but now hesitates or avoids it altogether).
Outside of injury presentation, did you know that dogs, just like people, enjoy a nice, assisted stretch and/or muscle rub after they exercise? As always, clear such activities with your vet before you do them – they also may be able to provide insight and assistance in learning best practices!
Stretches your dog may like include gentle extensions of front and back legs one at a time, ensuring you support the hips and knees while doing so. Hold the stretch for a few moments before gently letting go and setting the leg back down. Your dog will generally cue you in on what feels good here, but always remember that practicing gentle stretching is best and NEVER pull your dog’s leg or force it into an unnatural stretch.
If you’re looking for another simple cool down, we also encourage light muscle rubs all over your pup – leg muscles, chest rubs, and the sacrum (the flat spot at the lower back just before the base of the tail) are some of the easiest muscular spots to target. Rub gently in circular motions, just like you would on your sore ankle or back, and watch those ears perk up!
Finally, don’t forget to do a brief body check of your pup! Ticks and bugs are liable to latch on when you’re out in the high-country, and it’s important that they aren’t allowed to stick around. Start by checking your dog’s ears and neck, then brush your fingers through their coat to make sure there are no hangers on. Gently look at any other nooks, including elbows, skin folds (as applicable to your dog’s breed), and feet. Foot pads and in-between toes may want a little extra TLC depending on the hiking surface. As a pro tip, brushing your dog after a hike can be good way to check for bugs, plus it feels great for them!
Ready to tackle your next off-leash hike? Check out these dog-friendly hikes for spotting yellow Aspens this September. Contact us at Off-Leash K9 for a free consultation today!