Every dog has its play In Winnipeg and beyond, pet-friendly activities abound this summer
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 21/07/2020 (1054 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Even though 2020 has gone to the dogs, you can still make the most of this summer by having some socially distant fun with your canine companion.
Before getting out and about, however, it’s a good idea to acquaint yourself with the risks heat, bugs and wildlife can pose to pets.
“The No. 1 thing that could potentially be the most lethal is heat stroke,” says Dr. Ron Worb, a veterinarian with Anderson Animal Hospital and Wellness Center.
Older dogs, those with heart and lung issues, and breeds with shortened snouts — like pugs, French bulldogs and boxers — can be particularly susceptible to heat stroke. That said, any animal left in a hot car without air conditioning can die in a matter of minutes.
Symptoms of heat stroke in dogs include lethargy, glazed and sunken eyes, dizziness, loss of consciousness and excessive panting. Owners can try lowering their pets’ temperature by applying damp towels and cool water to their feet and mouth before taking them to a vet as soon as possible, says Worb.
Hot asphalt can also present a seasonal danger.
“Dogs are walking on bare feet and we already this summer have been dealing with some pets that have actually burned their paws,” Worb says. “One needs to be cognizant about the time of day and the surface their pet is walking on.”
The following are five pet-friendly activities to do in Manitoba this summer, plus some animal health advice:
Hit the beach
Pooches aren’t allowed on most beaches with defined swimming areas, but there are 12 provincial parks where dogs are welcome to enjoy the sun and sand. The closest option is Winnipeg Beach, which has a long stretch of shore designated for dogs just south of the town’s iconic water tower. The beach is well-shaded and there’s plenty room for humans to set up a towel or two.
Other dog-friendly swim areas include Sunset Beach in Hecla-Grindstone Provincial Park; Kiche Manitou Lake in Spruce Woods, next to the footbridge on the southeast shoreline; and Max Lake in Turtle Mountain, on the west end of the main beach.
When it comes to dogs and water, Worb suggests checking water-quality warnings before taking the plunge and rinsing your pet off after a day in the lake. Dogs can be susceptible to coliform bacteria, such as E. coli, and ingesting algae can cause life-threatening liver toxicity.
Owners should also be aware of their pet’s swimming ability.
“Not all dogs like water,” Worb says. “If you have a dog that you’re not sure how well they swim and you’re gonna be in a boat, they should probably wear a lifejacket.”
Take a hike
Spice up your summertime walk routine with a hike in the woods.
Jaime Manness — creator of Hike Manitoba, a self-published trail guide — hikes regularly with her five-year-old blue heeler-Rottweiler mix, Jasper. The pair have been all over the province, but their favourite routes are the Bear Lake trail in Whiteshell Provincial Park and the Gorge Creek trail in Riding Mountain National Park.
“Both are moderately difficult but they’re not too challenging for his little feet,” Manness says via email.
As an experienced hiker and dog owner, Manness has some tips for trekking safely with a canine; the most important of which is to keep your dog leashed at all times. Provincial and national parks have strict leash laws to protect pets, minimize wildlife encounters and keep visitors comfortable.
Manness’ packing list includes a special sling that allows her to carry Jasper if he can’t finish the trail and dog booties in case he injures a paw — neither of which she’s had to use yet. She also packs a bear bell for Jasper’s collar, plastic bags for dog poop and extra food for both of them.
“I carry enough water for him in my pack and never assume or rely on water access on the trail,” she says. “A lively brook in spring could very well be dry by late June.”
If your would-be hiking partner is of the feline variety, Worb strongly encourages doing some harness and outdoor exposure training at home first or using a backpack cat carrier instead. Cats are easily spooked and can get injured or lost.
Try a new dog park
If the neighbourhood dog park is getting a bit stale, take a drive for a change of scenery. There are a dozen off-leash dog parks in Winnipeg (check the city’s website for a full list) and plenty more past the Perimeter.
Portage la Prairie has a fully-fenced dog park at Yellow Quill Provincial Park. Located just off the Trans-Canada Highway, the park is a well-positioned rest stop for road-weary travellers and their animal companions. It’s also a good option for Winnipeggers looking for a pet-friendly day trip. While you’re in Portage, check out some of the town’s many roadside attractions, like the world’s largest Coca-Cola can and Canada’s largest Great Grey Owl.
South of Winnipeg, there are fenced dog parks in Morden, Winkler and Niverville — the latter even has an agility obstacle course.
Bring some water and bags to clean up after your dog. Dogs should be properly licensed, socialized and trained to respond to your commands before getting turned loose.
Pitch a tent
Camping is a great way to explore the outdoors with your dog, but packing light and keeping everyone comfortable can be a bit of a balancing act.
Bailey Skaftfeld camps with her boyfriend, Jared Ayotte, and his six-year-old blue heeler, Bronson. The couple’s dog-friendly packing list includes Bronson’s favourite sleeping blanket, collapsible food and water dishes, and a bone to keep him occupied during downtime — although, Skaftfeld advises putting bones and food away at night to deter bear visits. She and Ayotte have also perfected their leashed camping routine.
“A really easy way to avoid the leash getting all tangled around rocks, stumps or objects is to tie a long rope between two trees like a clothes line and attach a longer leash to hang from it so that it can slide side to side,” Skaftfeld says via email.
Their favourite Manitoba campground is Tulabi Falls in Nopiming Provincial Park.
“(The) privacy is great so you don’t have to worry about high traffic around your site, especially if your furry one gets a little excited when they meet new people like Bronson does,” Skaftfeld says.
Dogs should be up to date on their vaccines, particularly for rabies, and treated with Lyme disease and heartworm prevention before heading into the bush.
If tenting isn’t your cup of tea you can always look into “comfort camping” (a.k.a glamping) at a provincially owned cabin or yurt. Dogs and cats are both welcome at select locations with a maximum of two animals per reservation.
Grab a sweet treat
Ice cream is a sweet reprieve during the dog days of summer and many local shops have special treats for four-legged customers.
Watch your dog frolic at Bonnycastle Dog Park while enjoying a cone or coffee from Fête Ice Cream and Coffee. The cafe is located at 300 Assiniboine Ave. — right next to the downtown dog park — and offers puppycinos (whipped cream) and pup cones (vanilla ice cream with a dog treat). While dogs aren’t allowed in the shop for health and safety reasons, staff have carabiners on-hand so owners can tie their pups up outside. The business also has a Doggie Wall of Fame filled with adorable Polaroids of local pooches.
Sweet Tops on Henderson Highway, Dug & Betty’s Ice Creamery on Des Meurons Street and Sargent Sundae on Portage Avenue can also make a dog-friendly scoop.
While vanilla ice cream is a safe snack for dogs, many summertime food staples are not.
“With barbecues and cookouts people are eating corn on the cob,” Worb says, “If you’re not keeping garbage covered a dog will swallow an entire cob and it can be a life threatening intestinal obstruction because they aren’t going to pass them.”
Bones can also cause internal damage and grapes, raisins, macadamia nuts and chocolate are toxic to dogs. Avoid feeding your dog morsels from the picnic table to prevent upset tummies and allergic reactions.
Eva Wasney is a reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press.