Trail Hazards When Hiking with Dogs

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You will want to steer clear of trail hazards when hiking with dogs. Here are some of the things to be aware of when on the trail with your pet. Keep an eye out and be ready to redirect your dog away from these dangers. 

Hiking with two dogs
Photo courtesy of Yuki dog.

Trail hazards when hiking with dogs: Nature


You and your pet should steer clear of even the most harmless-looking wildlife. While it’s rare, it is possible for a wild creature to get scared and attack. If you’re in snake country, be aware of what types of snakes are in the area and how to avoid them. Seek veterinary attention immediately if your dog is bitten! Another danger is that if your dog starts chasing after an animal, they could get hurt or lost very easily. 

Wild Plants & Insects

Poison ivy, foxtails, thorns, burrs, and other plants can be irritating or even fatal in a worst-case scenario. Do not let your dog chew on wild plants. Also, don’t forget about stinging insects and ticks! That’s another reason to keep your dog from walking through brush or chewing on plants, since bugs like to hang out in plants and tall grasses. Always keep an eye out for bees and wasps, and check for ticks regularly.

Picture of a dog
Photo courtesy of Alvan Nee.

Trail hazards when hiking with dogs: Health


Dog can easily get overheated when exercising, especially if they have a heavy coat or they’re not physically fit. Carry plenty of water, stop and rest frequently, and seek out shade to halt overheating and exhaustion in its tracks. Don’t force your dog to keep moving if they’re insistent on lying down in the shade. A cooling collar is always a good idea for warm-weather hikes. Early-morning hikes will also help keep your pup cool, rather than going out in the heat of day. 

Unsafe Water

Puddles, creeks, lakes, and rivers can all have waterborne pathogens that are harmful to humans and dogs alike. From bacteria to algae, there are all kinds of things that can lurk in water. Your best bet is to carry in your water or treat it with your preferred water treatment method: not just for you, but for your dog too. Just because they’re willing to drink out of a puddle doesn’t mean that it’s safe or healthy for them to do so. 

Hiking with a dog
Photo courtesy of Liz Tremblay.

Trail hazards when hiking with dogs: Other dogs, hikers, and potential injury

Other Dogs and Hikers

Unfortunately, not all dogs are friendly or well-trained, and not all people know how to deal with dogs. If there are other hikers and dogs in the area, your best bet is to keep your dog on a leash. If you allow them off-leash, you should be constantly honing their training so that they know not to approach other hikers or dogs. You never know when another pet or person could be unfriendly or afraid of your dog.


One of the most common trail injuries is sore paws. Tender paws can get dry and cracked, or they can get cut and torn up on rocky trails. Burr, thorns, and other irritating objects could potentially also get stuck in their paws. It’s so important to check your dog’s paws frequently to make sure they’re free of discomfort. If your dog becomes unable to walk, it could spell disaster for the rest of your hiking adventure. 

Carry some basic first-aid items in case you or your dog gets an injury on the trail. Hopefully, by following these tips, you can steer clear of dangers and keep your dog safe, healthy, and happy on the trail! 

For additional resources, check out the American Kennel Club.

By OutdoorZ.Life staff

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Click here for “Hiking with Dogs Tips: Trail Etiquette

2 thoughts on “Trail Hazards When Hiking with Dogs”

  1. Keep an eye out for porcupines! My Shepperd came upon one and the day went downhill really fast from there!

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