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Think Twice Before Taking Your Dog On A Hike, Warn Park Rangers

A yellow lab and a golden retriever sit atop a rock vista point overlooking the ocean.
Park rangers are warning that dogs are at high risk of overheating, especially given hot temps, on hikes in the L.A. area.
(Jake McGee
LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr)
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Think twice before taking your pooch out on the trail for a hike, especially given recent high temps across L.A. The National Park Service (NPS) is warning pet owners to take extra precautions — or even think about postponing — when taking a hike with their dogs.

Since July, at least three dogs have died on local L.A. County trails and more than half a dozen have had to be rescued by park rangers. Most of these dogs were suffering from heat illness or dehydration, according to the NPS.

Ken Low, a National Park Service ranger at the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, says most dogs are just not capable of cooling down quickly like humans.

“We helped rescue two dogs from the Sandstone Peak area in the western part of our mountains on a recent weekend and it was over 90 degrees," Low says. "People don’t realize that dogs can succumb to heatstroke in just 15 minutes."

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Low advises dog owners to wait for cooler weather before heading out with your pet. He recommends that hikers check in with their veterinarian to learn what their dog will be able to handle: “Hikers need to ask themselves, Is my dog’s physical conditioning and age appropriate for this outing? If I decide to take them, am I leaving early enough and do I have enough water?"

Younger and older dogs might not be capable of keeping up on challenging hikes — especially when it's hot out — as dogs are more susceptible than humans to the negative side effects of excessive heat.

If you do take your dog out, Low recommends making sure to pack enough water and monitor your pet for signs of heat stroke, which can include excessive panting, drooling, reddened gums, vomiting, or uncoordinated movement.

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