Dog walking holidays-key tips for an enjoyable and stress-free trip

We have put together some Dog walking holidays-key tips which you might find useful  – including what to pack,  the Countryside Code, how to avoid any confrontations with cattle and other livestock safeguarding the health of your dog including  heatstroke.hypothermia and minimising the risk of insects and snake bites

Planning ahead!

  • Check that your dog’s collar and harness fit well and that the identity tag is securely fastened.  Even if you plan to walk your dog off-lead, there will be times when the lead will be required.
  • Make sure that your dog is fully up-to-date with flea/tick preventative treatments and worming.
  • Check insurance for third party liability- in the unlikely event that your dog is responsible for damage on a scale worth making an insurance claim!

Things to pack for your Dog walking holidays-key tips

In addition to food and bedding there are several other items to consider

  • some treats- always useful when encouraging recall when your dog has found something really interesting to investigate or chase – animate or inanimate!
  • a portable dog bowl – a collapsible bowl is particularly useful and water bottle
  • a basic dog first aid kit – including tick remover /tweezers and an elastic self-adhesive bandage, open wound dressings, antiseptic wipes and an anti-histamene.  Check with your vet before using OTC medications designed for humans such as Piriton
  • ‘poop’ bags- often a quick ‘stick & flick’ will suffice to remove the poop from the footpath or where it won’t be stepped upon will suffice. There will be occasions when it needs to be removed and then placed in the nearest dog bin (please don’t leave the bag behind!).
  • a blanket/towel. Useful for giving the dog a quick clean before entering a pub/café or your accommodation, but can also have several other uses.
  • if walking in winter consider packing a dog coat

Basic principles 

At all times on your dog walking holiday please adhere to  The Countryside Code

The clauses which relate to dogs include

  • Keep your dog on lead or in sight at all times, be aware of what it’s doing and be confident it will return to you promptly on command
  • Ensure your dog does not stray off the path or area where you have a right of access
  • Clear up after your dog
  • Respect instructions to put dogs on lead

           On farmland livestock may be pregnant or have young with them. Your dog could cause harm (farmers can legally shoot a dog which is scaring or attacking livestock) and the adult cattle and sheep are far more likely to be aggressive towards both you and your dog.

           In open access areas it may be to protect ground nesting birds

           Some beaches have restrictions/bans on dog walking on the beach, particularly during the summer.

Fellow travellers on your dog walking holiday

  •  Horses.    If meeting a ridden horse, recall your dog and keep it well away from a horse’s hooves
  •   Dogs.      Look out for signs of anxiety or stress which might easily turn into aggression towards your dog. If it is licking its lips, averting gaze or has a low, slow tail wag- keep your distance!

Cattle

If you are a regular countryside walker with your dog, you will almost certainly have encountered cattle and one of the challenges you will face is how to predict how they will behave.

Listed below are our Dog walking holidays-key tips to minimise any stress!

A BBC podcast I heard recently advises the following principles when dog walking and cattle are nearby:

  • know your route across the field and decide where you are going, so you can take a predictable path which will not alarm the animals
  • try to walk near to a hedge or fence so that you can get close into the hedge if need be. It is probably best to walk around the outside of a group of cattle so they can move off without feeling threatened.
  • if in a group of people, walk together – be ‘big’!
  • don’t run as the cattle are likely to start running as well and they can run fast.
  • stay calm so as not to spook the animals.
  • stay quiet.
  • keep any dogs on a lead so you can control the dogs.
  • Should they be particularly inquisitive- which is generally all that will motivate them to move towards you, a firm ‘shoo’ is usually enough to halt their progress

 

Clearly it is sensible to keep the dog on a lead so that you can keep it under control and away from the cattle. However, if the cattle see the dog it is important to recognise the signs that it is becoming agitated.

 

Watch to see if the cow or bull looks up and looks alert or indeed starts nodding its head. This is a sign of aggression and if you see this you should retreat carefully watching it all the time.

 

Cows are most often aggressive/protective when they are with their new born calves. Do not get between the mother and calf as the mother will get protective as she does not like to be separated.

If you feel the cow or bull is showing all the signs of attacking It is recommended to release your dog from its lead. The cow is most likely to feel threatened by the dog (rather than you) so releasing the dog will separate you from the dog.  Most dogs can run much faster than a cow and you can try to distance yourself from the cow whose attention will be focussed on the dog.  

This chance of being attacked remain very low but it is better to be aware particularly when walking your dog and enjoying the beautiful countryside.

 

Doggie well-being whilst on your Dog walking holiday-key tips

  • Please plan your dog walking holidays so as not to  over-tire or over-stress your dog

Heatstroke

  • On warm/hot days be wary of heatstroke.
  • Try to walk your dog early morning and in the evening, avoiding the warmest part of the day
  • Always take fresh water supplies with you
  • Make use of shade wherever possible
  • Look out for early symptoms of  heatstroke- excessive panting, dribbling and foaming at the mouth and general distress
  • More extreme signs are bright red gums, blood from the nose and /or mouth, tremours or seizures.
  • Treatment – cool your dog’s body temperature slowly by pouring small amounts of cool water over his torso, drape with a cool damp towel for up to 5 minutes (a longer time might make the situation even worse) and allow your dog to drink small amounts of water.
  • Consult a vet.

Hypothermia

  • On wintry days  beware of  hypothermia, particularly if your dog has been swimming in cold water or has periods of inactivity
  • Symptoms – shivering (which will stop if the dog is excessively cold), pale gums, low energy and poor coordination.
  • Treatment – wrap them in warmed blankets and place a hot water bottle wrapped in a towel against your dog’s abdomen. You can heat these blankets up in either a tumble dryer, on a radiator or with a hairdryer.
  • Seek veterinary advice

Alabama Rot

  • Whilst still rare in the UK, if you are planning to walk during the wet winter /spring months it maybe wise to check for recent cases in the area where you plan to walk. The rot, which attacks the dog’s blood system and can be fatal, can be picked up in muddy areas and woodland.
  • In most cases, red, raised and circular skin sores/ulcers, particularly on the leg, foot, nose or tongue, are the first sign of Alabama rot. Other symptoms can develop (over a few days) if the condition starts to affect the kidneys. Other symptoms include limping/stiffness, loss of appetite, low energy vomiting,  diarrhoea and drinking/peeing more.
  • Left untreated, it can cause kidney failure and even death.
  • Contact your vet if your dog has any wounds, or you’re worried they may have Alabama rot.
  • At present, the cause of Alabama rot is unknown.
  • A precaution is to wash your dog thoroughly after each walk, paying particular attention to the paws.
Univited guests – ‘there be dragons’

OK, so not dragons, in fact  the UK is generally benign in terms of its wildlife but there are a couple of creatures which can threaten the health of you and your dog.

Ticks

The UK Government have produced a factsheet  on ticks  and an accompanying video which is available to view on their website UK Government – tick awareness

  • Ticks are tiny spiders which are particularly active spring through to autumn and may often be found in long grasses, particularly in areas frequented by sheep and deer, waiting to leap upon a new host – human or canine, or any suitable wild animal- they are not fussy. Once latched on to a suitable host the body swells and has the appearance of a very small grape, or castor bean (castor bean tick is the  name commonly used on the European mainland).
  • Around a third of all UK ticks are thought to be disease-carrying
  • Much has been written about their ability to spread Lyme’s disease, in dogs it can attack tissues around the body, most commonly the joints, but also organs such as the kidneys.
  • To minimise the risk of infection, check both yourself and your dog (particularly his head, ears, armpits and belly) for signs of the small, bloated creatures and remove using the specialised hook in a twisting movement (if you simply pull at the body the head will remain buried in the skin and may cause infection.
  • Symptoms – in your dog, look out for swollen joints

                             – in yourself – if, a couple of weeks later, a red saucer-like rash appears on you, consult a doctor for some antibiotics

  • Treatment – the best cure is preventative, that is regular doses of a suitable flea/tick treatment. It wont stop the dog from being bitten, but it prevent the infection

Bee/wasps and other stingers

  • Allergic reactions in dogs are not uncommon and may even be life threatening. Mild reactions include itchiness and rashes, swelling and lameness. More severe symptoms include swelling in the face and throat restricting breathing, vomiting and diahorrea.
  • Carry Piriton or a similar anti-histamene recommended by your vet. This will help subdue reaction until you can consult a vet for any further treatment

Adders

  • The UK’s only poisonous snake which can be found on heathland or woodland edges. Timid by nature, the snake will generally retreat at the approach of human footsteps, but an inquisitive dog may prompt the adder to strike.
  • Adder bites tend to happen February through to October  but are especially common in high summer
  • It is most common for a dog to be bitten on the face, neck or lower leg.
  • With treatment, most dogs recover from adder bites, but some bites are very serious, cause severe illness and even death.
  • If you think that your dog has been bitten seek veterinary advice. ASAP

The PDSA has excellent website covering all the topics discussed here PDSA – dog walking

We hope that you have found this article on  Dog walking holidays-key tips useful. With a little forward-planning and awareness of your surroundings you – and your dog, will have a wonderful time on your dog walking holiday

 If you would like us to provide you with a bespoke costed itinerary for a dog walking holiday in coastal or rural Dorset please contact Footscape Walking holidays  Please add any additional information on the enquiry form which you think might help us create the perfect walking holiday for you and your dog.

John Laidlaw