As cooler weather arrives in the city, many dog owners are beginning to take their beloved pups outside on longer hikes. But while the temperature may have dropped to lower levels than during the sweltering summer months, it’s still important to make realistic safety assessments before tackling a hiking trip with your dog to prevent any unfortunate injuries or fatalities. Here to provide us with some helpful tips is Hayden Kwok from the SPCA.
Despite cooler breezes sweeping through the city, dog owners need to be vigilant and not rule out the possibility of heatstroke. When the ground is heated, the temperature for your dog is a lot warmer than it is for the owner, who is not as close to the ground. Heat stroke is a common occurrence that often gets underestimated. Dogs do not sweat through their skin like humans; they release heat through panting and sweating through their foot pads and nose. So make sure you give your doggie plenty of rest under the shade and make sure that they stay hydrated. The SPCA Inspectorate often receive many calls for assistance during this time of the year, so don’t let that be you.
It is important to know what the signs of heat stroke are so that you can monitor your dog’s behaviour and appearance during longer hikes around Hong Kong. Here are the main symptoms to watch out for:
Make sure your dog is up to the hike ahead. If your dog is not an active one, then don’t drag them out on a difficult level hike. Start with shorter walks first, and then slowly train together to do longer walks. Dogs that are short-nosed (i.e. Boston Terriers and Bulldogs), overweight, or have thick fur coats are a lot more sensitive to heat, so it is important to be cautious and make sure that you are choosing a suitable hiking trail.
Be extra careful when walking on narrow paths with steep drops and where a road crosses, as oncoming traffic can pose a danger to your dog’s safety. Be sure to keep your dog leashed to avoid it running off or getting involved in other accidents. And always remember to keep your vet clinic’s number on speed dial in case of any emergencies. Here is a list of 24-hour emergency vets to bookmark!
Wildlife hazards to dog include porcupines with their sharp spines, wild boars which can become aggressive when they feel threatened, and monkeys which can be spotted along several popular hiking trails in Hong Kong. If you see or hear an animal moving nearby, then remain calm and remove you and your dog away to a safe distance. Let the wild animal go about its way and then continue your hike with safety.
When you go out hiking, consider carrying a basic dog first aid kit with you and learn how to use it. Stick to hiking routes rather than blazing through a new trail to avoid unpleasant surprises such as wildlife encounters or illegal animal traps. Be sure to carry your mobile phone and tell people where you are going too.
Call for help: The SPCA has a 24-hour animal rescue service which can be reached at (+852) 27111 000, should members of the public require animal rescue services. SPCA’s Inspectorate rescue animals that are in danger, trapped, or injured.