The sun streams through the trees onto a lush alpine meadow, where your noble hound romps through the wildflowers. While this picturesque scene with your dog is easy breezy, there are a few precautions to take before making it reality. Check these off your list for canine bliss!
Little nasties lurk in wide-open spaces. And the wider and more open the space, the more likely it is to lose track of our canine buddies. Have proper ID on your dog at all times and vaccinations completed. Ticks, fleas, roundworms and mites are everywhere, and our pup’s diverse palettes attract them to risks like carcasses and feces (yum!).
Before venturing out to enjoy the exciting landscapes our province has to offer, check weather advisories, trail closures and algae warnings (they indicate locations of harmful algal blooms for drinking or swimming dogs). If possible, plan your adventures around conflicting factors such as extreme temperatures, areas with active wildlife or industry, and riskier times like hunting and trapping season.
It’s a sensitive subject! Most of us don’t want to put our dog on a leash while enjoying the outdoors, but the reality is—unless you can GAURANTEE your dog’s ability to recall—you can put them in danger by letting them run at large. When allowed to roam, Fido can not only get in harm’s way but also pose a considerable risk to flora, fauna and other users.
Respecting the environment and taking responsibility for our companion’s wellbeing rests on being honest about our dog’s abilities. A leash is one of the most important tools available to avoid hazards as well as monitor and control dog activity. And if your dog is your hunting partner, tools like GPS collars help keep tabs on your pooch while they utilize their talents off leash. Lights, bells, and a whistle for calling over greater distances are other tools that can help keep your pup close and safe.
Being in the sun and snow is fun, but also means keeping tabs on your dog’s condition. Recognize signs of distress, and avoid and know how to treat symptoms of exposure. This includes dehydration, heat stroke, and hypothermia. Symptoms to be aware of are lethargy, vomiting or diarrhea, shaking or unsteady breathing, pale cold gums, and any sort of foaming or discharge at the mouth.
Pack items to help with potential emergencies: water and treats, low dose aspirin for swelling and pain, self-adhesive bandage, cable cutters or plyers (to cut materials off your dog or remove embedded objects), and a sturdy blanket that can be used to warm, sling, compress or carry.
Be prepared to deter aggressive wildlife or livestock if necessary. Surprisingly, recreating with your dog can sometimes make a negative wildlife encounter more likely, so bring whatever deterrent you are most comfortable using (bear spray, bangers, etc.). Keep in mind while defending yourself against wildlife or livestock is completely lawful, allowing your dog to harass them is NOT.
Enjoying the outdoors with your best bud shouldn’t feel intimidating: just prepare, be respectful, and remain aware. That way, the sun will set as you hear soft snoring rumbling from the back of your paw print encrusted vehicle as the smell of wet dog washes over you—signs of a great day in the Alberta outdoors with your four-legged friend.