Tails from the trail and tips on training your human

Hiking With Dogs: Common Trail Dangers to Look Out For

Common Trail Dangers

As hiking continues to be one of the top activities people like to pursue with their pups, not many consider the dangers the wilderness can present. You may be having the time of your life with your canine companion but staying ahead of any danger that may befall you both is the best way to ensure you get the most out of your adventure. As a small attempt to help you keep your dogs safe, here we have listed some of the most common dangers you may come across on hiking trails in general.

Steep Trails

Who doesn’t expect a hiking trail to be steep? After all, that’s the essence of the entire activity. However, the biggest mistake you can make as a pet owner is assuming your dog knows their way around that steepness.

The second biggest mistake people make is leaving their dog off-leash, even if it’s for a while. So essentially, by doing so, you’re exposing them to unfamiliar conditions and also leaving them to figure those conditions out while they are unprotected (without a leash).

Here’s the first thing to do: learn everything about a trail before bringing your fur pal along, and never assume they are wildwood creatures who can find their way around the forest.

A few seconds of you being laid back can easily cause them to tumble over the edge of a cliff they never knew was there.


This is more of a warning than a suggestion because no matter how great your dogs are with directions back in the city, leaving them off-leash in an unfamiliar environment is similar to inviting danger yourself.

Unless there are no steep drop-offs or any other potential dangers, you should always keep their leash intact, especially if they like to chase insects and animals.

Poisonous Substances and Parasites

Your dog won’t mind biting on anything that comes their way, and sometimes, what comes their way is more harmful than what you can imagine. It can either be a funny story you can recall later or a matter of life and death. Moreover, just because you’re exploring nature doesn’t mean that the things your dog consumes are safe.

Since they cannot distinguish between what is safe and unsafe to eat, you may want to look out for the following:

  • Poisonous plants
  • Sticks
  • Rocks
  • Feces from other animals

But don’t keep your observation limited to what you can see on the ground because streams can be as dangerous, if not more. It’s quite convenient for your dog to contract bacterial and parasitic diseases even if they gulp a small quantity of stream water. Contaminated streams, therefore, are one of the most commonly encountered dangers on a hiking trail.


Even though surviving or not surviving heat has a lot to do with your dog’s breed, it isn’t entirely about it. No matter how well your dog’s body can adapt to different weather conditions, you should always carry an ample amount of water to prevent them from overheating.

Some breeds are naturally more prone to overheating, such as “Brachycephalic” dogs (Boxers, English bulldogs, French bulldogs, Boston terriers, etc.).

Additionally, you may also want to consider their health conditions. For instance, are they overweight, have a heart condition, or other factors that make them susceptible to overheating?

What Signs Can You Look Out For?

Your little hiking partner may not be able to speak, but there are always certain signs to look out for, such as:

  • Loud breathing sounds
  • Increased respiratory effort
  • Foaming saliva
  • Lethargy
  • Red gums
  • Seizures or collapsing in worst cases

If you suspect the presence of any of these signs, immediately try to cool them down with water, fans, and shade. However, you may want to consider getting veterinary care later since overheating is never easy on the body and can be potentially life-threatening.

Wild Animals

There are limitless possibilities of what you can come across on a typical hiking trail, but the most predictable of them are wild animals. This has to be one of the most common trail dangers to exist. Therefore, before you plan to take them on a hike, get familiar with the type of wildlife you can encounter.

In any case, you must keep your dog leashed and close to you to avoid letting them discover anything you wouldn’t want them to. It’s hard for dogs to determine what to stay away from, and it often lands them in trouble you could never have anticipated. For instance, dogs are often victims of snake bites since they tend to get curious and investigate their surroundings with a little too much enthusiasm.


While it isn’t likely for dogs to die from exhaustion, it’s still better not to test their strength for the worst. When you push yourself to reach newer limits and stay on steep trails for long, you also push your dog to do the same, and in some cases, it can lead to exhaustion. Again, exhaustion may not kill your dog, but might exacerbate other issues such as overheating or pre-existing health conditions.

What Signs Can You Look Out For?

The most obvious sign to look out for is your dog lagging behind you. While this isn’t exactly alarming, dogs generally don’t find it hard to keep up with you or be slightly ahead of you too. So, if they are falling behind, it must mean that they are too exhausted to go on. Additional signs to look out for are foaming saliva, labored breathing, and laying down after every few minutes.

The Bottom Line

From wild animals to weather conditions, there are a number of risks that await you and your little pup on a typical hiking trail. This is why getting ahead of any possible dangers you may encounter is the only way to ensure you and your dog have the time of your lives.