If you made a New Year’s resolution or have otherwise decided to exercise and spend more time outdoors, there are a lot of great activities you can enjoy. From rafting and swimming to biking and playing golf, the possibilities are plentiful. However, hiking is a long-time favorite among many simply because it offers a unique opportunity to “stop and smell the roses.”
Another reason so many enjoy this activity is because it’s one that your favorite pet can tag along with. Well, your cat and dog at least. Taking a parrot or gerbil to a national park may not work out quite so well. However, there are a few things you need to keep in mind on those treks, and we want to make sure you’re equipped to keep both you and your furry companion safe so you can enjoy your outside time to the fullest.
You likely monitor what your pet ingests and ensure they get probiotics like Purina FortiFlora for cats and quality food, but they’re sneaky and are known to swallow toys and small objects, as well as eat grass and plants. While it’s impossible to keep them in a cat harness or dog leash so you can watch over them 24 hours a day, when you’re out for a hike, you have to be diligent about more than just keeping them away from cliffs and gorges.
Depending on where your outdoor activities take you, there are plants and other dangers that you need to watch out for. Though there are literally hundreds of them, here are a few surprising ones.
- Apple trees: the leaves, stems, and seeds all contain cyanide. If your hike takes you near an orchard or sporadic apple trees, watch for difficulty breathing, red mucous membranes, dilated pupils, or panting.
- Apricot, cherry, peach, plum, and cherry trees also have stems, leaves, and seeds that contain cyanide, and you need to watch for those same symptoms if ingested.
- Catnip – yup, you read that right. While commercial toys with catnip and even packaged versions are popular, wild catnip can cause vomiting and diarrhea when eaten.
- Chives: dogs are really attracted to this one, and it can cause vomiting, blood in their urine, a breakdown of red blood cells, panting, weakness, and a high heart rate.
- Daffodils – bulbs are the most poisonous part, and the plant is toxic to both cats and dogs and can cause vomiting, nausea, and diarrhea. If they eat a lot of it, watch for convulsions, low blood pressure, tremors, and cardiac arrhythmias.
- Elephant ears: this plant is found in many gardens and along trails, but it’s toxic to both cats and dogs and can cause swelling and pain in their mouth, tongue, and lips, as well as difficulty swallowing, excessive drooling, and vomiting.
- Tomato plants: whether in your home garden or out on the trails, keep them away from tomato plants. While ripe tomatoes are safe, the plant can cause hypersalivation, severe gastrointestinal upset, weakness, dilated pupils, and slow heart rate.
- Tulips: this is another one where the bulbs are the most toxic, and eating them can cause diarrhea and vomiting.
And on and on, it goes. This is just the tip of the iceberg. So, in other words, whether you’re out stargazing for a night hike or trudging through the heat of the day, keep them on a leash, keep them hydrated with a portable water bottle for pets, and don’t let them eat anything you don’t give them. Especially plants.
Before taking your pet out hiking with you, research the area and ensure you know how to recognize harmful native plants. Of course, don’t forget to do the same for snakes. You never know what you’ll encounter out there.