Bring pets on hikes, just watch out for safety

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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. Hiking is a healthy summer activity for people and animals, but the adventure can be dangerous for four-legged hiking partners if pet owners aren't extra cautious.

Veterinarian Dr. Kenny Summers said distractions like other animals can cause a dog to jump or fall off cliffs, which a viewer said happened to their dog recently at Lands End Observatory on the Grand Mesa.

"Dogs especially if they see a squirrel may not be using their brain as much and they may jump off or fall off something," Dr. Summers said.

There are other opportunities for injuries as well like foot abrasions from plants or sharp rocks.

Martin Wiesiolek said he runs up to 30 miles a week with his lab mix Roxy, but just like with anyone with an active lifestyle, injuries do happen. She got a grass seed stuck in her foot last week.

"It's just a big infection in her foot," he said. "Probably have to wait another week for major activity."

Dog paws are also sensitive to heat and can burn from the ground or pavement.

"Any injury that a human can get while hiking, a dog can get that exact same injury," Dr. Summers said. "So that's the biggest thing is use common sense. If it's someplace dangerous for humans, it's going to be dangerous for your pet."

Dr. Summers recommends dog owners take lots of breaks in the shade and provide plenty of water to their pets throughout a hike.

Overheating is a major problem for dogs in the summertime because they can't sweat.

Avoiding going on long hikes in the middle of the day can help both the risk for overheating and burning paws.

"We go for runs around 6 a.m. or late in the evening or we head out to high country," Wiesiolek said. "If I go in the mornings, I make sure we don't go too far. I make sure she can trot so she can cool off and we take breaks."

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