Experiencing nature by taking a hike in one of Queensland’s beautiful national parks is a great outdoor activity – especially if you have your best friend by your side. If that friend is the kind with fur and four legs, you’ll need to keep a few things in mind.
Many hiking trails around Queensland allow dogs, but most require them to be on a leash. Even if your four-legged friend is particularly well trained, keep them on their leash – for the sake of wildlife, other hikers and their dogs.
No-one enjoys carrying around a bag of dog poo, but you must pick up after your dog. This will save someone else having their hike ruined by stepping in something yukky. What’s worse, dog excrement contains a high level of bacteria that can be harmful to native flora and fauna. Most dog parks provide doggy bags but few national parks will, so take your own.
Make sure you take enough food and water for the two of you. Pack a collapsible bowl – don’t let your dog drink standing in water such as ponds or lakes, as they’re often full of bacteria that could cause sickness. To ensure they’ve got the energy they need, give your dog a bigger-than-usual meal the night before, and take along some healthy snacks for the trip.
If your dog is particularly old or a puppy, they might not be physically up for the challenge. Stop if you notice your dog lying down, panting intensely or foaming at the mouth. These are all signs that your pooch needs to cool down, slow down or even stop completely. Just like you, dogs get in shape when exercising regularly, but can struggle with physical activity if they’ve been too sedentary. Your vet can help you put an exercise plan in place that will keep your pet fighting fit.
After a long trek, it’s likely your dog will come home with all kinds of plant life, bugs and burrs matted in their fur. Check your dog as soon as possible after the hike to prevent bites, ticks, reactions, and other nasties – these issues are less likely to become serious problems when caught early. Even if your dog isn’t particularly dirty after the hike, give them a long bath and check their body all over for ticks. If you do find one, it is best to seek treatment from a vet as soon as possible.
To find hiking trails near you that allow dogs, visit the Department of National Parks, Sport and Racing’s website.