The 10 Most Common Dog Ailments
The Ultimate Adventure Companion
It’s easy to miss the signs when your dog is hurting. They can’t talk, which helps them maintain their status as man’s best friend, but as a result, dog owners don’t always know when something is wrong. It’s one thing when you’re a quick car ride from the vet. But take your dog into the backcountry for a long hike or a hut trip where you both may be tired and under stress, and you exacerbate the situation.
A dog in the backcountry, like a human, can have mishaps—a cut, a broken bone, an allergic reaction, or even just overexertion. But dogs aren’t able to evaluate risk like humans, and they also can’t tell their owners they’ve had enough and want to turn around.
“Most dog injuries aren’t serious and are from the general exuberance that comes with being a dog,” says Dr. Rachel Brodlie, doctor of veterinary medicine at Vermont’s Milton Veterinary Clinic and an avid hiker and snowshoer. “And most dog injuries come from weekend warriors taking their dogs out for more than the animal can handle.”
Canine cuts and scrapes can be managed in the same way you would handle a minor human trauma—cleaning and covering an open wound, stabilizing a broken bone. But before you can stabilize a break, you have to realize your dog has one.
Brodlie’s rule of thumb: “If you suspect an injury, watch your dog. He’ll tell you what’s wrong and how bad it is. Give him a second to figure out what he is feeling. But most importantly, don’t panic—your pet will feed off of your emotions.”
Deal with hurt pets like you would deal with a human emergency: use common sense. And if you’re heading into the woods for a day or longer, bring a first aid kit that will work for man and beast alike. Add these items to a well-equipped human first aid kit, and you’ll be ready for most things you and your dog might encounter.
If your dog is sprayed by a skunk or a seed, insect, dirt or other foreign object gets lodged in its eye, rinse it with saline. The saline bottle should squirt so that you can get the liquid into the corners of your pet’s eyes if you need to. Available at most pharmacies.
Like humans, dogs can have allergic reactions to plants as well as bites and stings. Give your dog Benadryl orally if he shows hives or a strong allergic reaction. The rule of thumb is 2mg of Benadryl per pound of body weight every eight hours—more than a normal human dosage. Benadryl is also recommended for snakebites. But take note: It will make your dog drowsy. Available at most pharmacies.