The summer is here and the sun is shining: what a great time to go for a walk in the countryside with your pooch! Kathryn Eccles from country and equestrian store Millbry Hill gives her advice for keeping yourself and your dog safe while you’re out in the countryside this season.
The summer is the perfect time to get out in the country with your dog. The fresh air and vitamin D can do wonders for your health, and your pooch will love the open space! But no walk is without its risks, so there are a few things you’ll need to bear in mind to keep you and your pet safe. From preparation and dealing with livestock, to avoiding harmful plants and insects, I’ll be giving you my advice to keep you both safe in the countryside.
Prepare before you go
When you’re out walking, it’s important that you stay hydrated and keep your energy levels up, especially while its warm outside. Make sure you take plenty of water and snacks for both you and your dog. For yourself, foods that are high in sugars, fats and carbohydrates can give you a welcome boost of energy, but fruit can also help to keep you hydrated.
Dogs with thicker and darker coats can overheat quickly, so it’s important that you stop regularly for a water break to keep them cool and refreshed. To make things easier, you can even get portable water bowls and bottles for your dog to drink from.
Follow a set route
One of the biggest dangers you’ll face when walking in the countryside is the possibility of getting lost, especially in an area that is unfamiliar to you. Before you go, you should consider planning your route and informing someone of where you plan to walk and when you’ll be back. Remember that the sun can cause you and your dog to get fatigued quicker than usual, so try to avoid long walks that could cause you both to overheat and try to stay in the shade as much as you can.
I’d also advise you to stick as close to your route as possible and be sure to follow maps and road signs to keep you on the right path. This will also avoid you stepping into private farmland which may have livestock or horses.
Be cautious around other animals
If you do encounter cattle and livestock, it’s important that you don’t disturb them, especially if there are any young animals around. You should be aware that they may react to the presence of your dog, so try to move quickly and quietly and as far away from them as possible. To keep your pet under tight control while you’re moving through the field, hold them close by on a short lead.
If you’re passing horses in a field or on the road, it’s important that you walk as far away from them as possible to keep yourself, your dog and the rider safe. Don’t approach horses from behind and avoid your dog getting too close by keeping them on a short lead.
Stay away from poisonous plants
When you’re out in the country, your dog is going to want to investigate as much as they can, but you should keep an eye on them at all times. Not only will this ensure that they haven’t wandered off anywhere or gotten themselves into trouble, but you can also see what they’re taking an interest in. Certain plants that occur in the wild can be harmful to dogs if ingested.
Some toxic plants that you might encounter on your walk include milkweed, acorns, tansy and even daffodils. For a full list of harmful plants and substances, and their symptoms if ingested, take a look at this list from Dogs Trust.
Look out for ticks
It’s not just plants you’ll need to look out for, because the summer can bring a whole host of insects to the countryside. When walking in long grasses, ticks can attach themselves to you and your dog. These small insects feed off your blood, but they can be dangerous because of the variety of diseases they can carry, including Lyme disease.
To avoid being bitten, try to wear clothes that will cover bare skin. These should be made from breathable fabrics to keep you cool. You should also wear closed shoes rather than sandals. Insect repellent can also help to protect against ticks, mosquitoes, midges and gnats. Your dog should also be equipped with a tick collar or insect repellent.
When you get home, carefully inspect your skin for any sign of ticks, paying particular attention to the back of your knees and under your arms. Then, check your dog for any ticks as well. You’ll be able to identify them as they’ll be small insects embedded into the skin. If you’re ever worried about an insect bite or sting, consult your GP or call NHS 111.
By following these simple tips, you can keep yourself and your dog safe when you’re out in the countryside this summer. Now all that’s left to do is enjoy the sun with your pooch by your side!