First aid: Carrying a first-aid kit specifically for dogs is good idea when taking your pet in the outdoors. The K-9 First Aid Kit by Ruffwear
Rattlesnake bites: Campbell says his clinic sees between a dozen to two dozen rattlesnake bites each year - many from Wasatch Front foothills - with several ending in death. He says there is a new vaccine for dogs, which neutralizes rattlesnake venom. Depending on the size of the dog, two or three boosters may be needed. Spring is the time to get the shots before the snakes show up on the trails. Willow Creek charges $54 for the vaccine.
Conditioning: Like people, dogs need physical training before participating in major fitness activities. Don't expect a dog that has been lazing around the house all winter to be able to keep up on a long spring hike. A key part of conditioning is toughening up paw pads. Spending a majority of their time on grass and carpet softens pads and make them more prone to injury. Consider using dog booties if their pads are soft. 3D Bark'n Boots from Ruffwear are $38 and come in XS, S, M, L and XL.
"Walking the dog in the neighborhood on concrete or asphalt helps prepare them for the trails," Campbell says.
Refueling: People pack snacks or lunches along for hikes. Dogs need to refuel as well. There are a variety of dog trail snacks available. Reward your dog for being a good hiker and keep the animal healthy at the same time.
Giardia: Developing severe diarrhea in the backcountry from drinking water laden with the giardia parasite can be as serious to dogs as to humans.
It can be hard, but try to keep your dog from drinking from creeks, streams and lakes while hiking. Most people who outfit their dogs with backpacks have the animals carry their own water, bowl and food. Cinch-top collapsible bowls from Ruffwear cost $11.95 to $19.95, depending on size.
Wildlife: Animals, in addition to rattlesnakes, can be one of the most dangerous aspects of taking a dog into the wild. In addition to being illegal for dogs to harass wildlife in Utah, it can also be dangerous to dog owners. Many times a dog will chase a moose and end up being chased by the massive animal. When the dog is pursued, it almost always runs toward its human, leading the angry moose . . . you get the point. Keep animals leashed.
Encounters with porcupines are another common problem. Campbell suggests a visit to the vet for any dog that has been quilled.
"Many people try to pull them out themselves and think they have them out, but half the quill can still be in there and that will lead to an abscess," he says.
Campbell says tomato juice is the trick for treating a dog sprayed by a skunk.
Eye protection: People wear sunglasses while outdoors, why not dogs? Exposure to ultraviolet light, especially at high elevations, can lead to an eye disease in dogs known as pannus, which can lead to blindness. German shepherds seem most prone to pannus, but it can happen other breeds as well. Doggles, UV protection and antifog goggles for dogs, can help prevent pannus. Eye protection can also prevent injuries from branches poking eyes while running through the forest or a sagebrush flat.