Dogs gear up for summer activities |

Dogs gear up for summer activities

Julie Sutor

Would you hike a mountain without a sturdy pair of shoes? Would you head out on your bike for a good trail ride without a water bottle? Would you go on a camping trip in the San Juans without a sleeping bag?With summer in full swing, High Country residents and visitors are flocking to the great outdoors to take advantage of myriad warm-weather recreation activities. And their extreme pooches go right along with them.But some dog-owning outdoor enthusiasts, who invest plenty of cash and thought into their own gear, don’t give enough attention to the equipment and safety needs of their four-legged companions.”Especially in the spring and on holidays, we see dogs whose paws are not only blistered, but have spots where the blisters have worn off, and they can hardly walk,” said Vince Tharp, veterinarian at Alpine Veterinary Practice in Dillon. “In the spring, dogs have been running on snow, and their pads haven’t had the opportunity to toughen up yet. We see the same thing in tourists’ dogs that spend most of their time in grassy areas,” he said. “Just like our feet, dogs’ feet need to toughen up, or they need to wear boots.”Luckily, many products are available at pet supply stores that make outdoor adventures more safe and enjoyable for dogs.– Paw protection: Owners can shield tender paws with dog boots or with spray-on products that coat paws. One brand of dog boots even has soles made from recycled bike tires for added durability.”They were developed in Bend, Ore., which is similar to Summit County,” said Barb Cole of The Barnyard in Frisco. “They know the terrain.”Hikers can also carry a cut-sealer with them in the case of a laceration or abrasion while on the trail.– Floatation aids and backpacks: Most pet supply stores carry a variety of backpacks and floatation devices that owners can strap onto their dogs to carry supplies and/or guard against drowning.– Food and hydration: “We sit down and have some trail mix, and the dogs are the ones who are really exhausted,” Cole said. “They’ve probably gone twice as far as we have.”It’s important to carry adequate food and water for a dog when hiking and camping, and lightweight, collapsible bowls make it easy for dogs to refuel in the outdoors.”It is wise to carry water, because there’s giardia in the streams,” Tharp said. “We have a vaccine for that, but a lot of tourists’ dogs won’t be vaccinated.”Some bowls have drawstrings that allow them to double as food-storage containers and canine energy bars can give your pup a boost in the backcountry.– Eye protection: Sunglasses aren’t only for people anymore.”I had one customer whose dog had his head out the car window and a stick went right into his eye,” Cole said.Owners can protect dogs’ eyes from foreign objects and ultraviolet radiation with sunglasses made just for dogs. Some have interchangeable lenses that rival the top eyewear for humans.– Keep ’em close: Runners and hikers can use hands-free leashes that fasten around their waists to prevent dogs from running off. Pet supply stores also carry bells and blinking lights that fasten onto a dog’s collar, so owners can keep tabs on their animals more easily.– Poop patrol: Keep pet waste under wraps by purchasing a bundle of 60 plastic bags for about $6.– Common sense: There’s probably a gadget for every scenario, but Tharp emphasized that common sense is the most important item in an owner’s arsenal to keep a dog happy and safe.”Every once in a while, we have a dog that has fallen off a cliff,” Tharp said. “They get into boulder fields where we’re climbing too, and they’re trying to keep up.”You just have to be smart and think about it.”Julie Sutor can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 203 or

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