With limited activities due to COVID emergency, many New Mexicans are hiking and exploring outdoor trails. We are obviously blessed with these opportunities to get out and enjoy the natural world. The term “dogs” has dual meaning here – 1) feet, often referred to as dogs in the early 20th century and 2) canines. While walking and hiking both “dogs” need to be prepared and protected from foot injuries and overuse.
Podiatrist Recommendations on Shoes and Socks
As a podiatrist, I am often asked for recommendations on sock and footwear choices. Having properly fitting socks is important along with shoe/boot fit. Sock fit is often overlooked and from what I’ve recently observed on the trails sometime absent for a few newcomers to hiking. A synthetic blended sock is recommended over 100% cotton and I advise individuals that the thickness is a personal choice. Obviously, when purchasing new shoes/boots try them on with the thickness of sock you’re planning on using.
Shoe/boot choices are dependent on the type of walking/hiking. My observations on the Sandia trails are that experienced participants have “proper” shoes and the less experienced have footwear that I know will be bringing them soon into my office for foot problems. I’m not totally opposed to walking sandals on paved trails but do not feel they’re appropriate on rocky, cactus laden trails. Using a boot that provides increased ankle support will be beneficial especially if you’ve had history of ankle sprains, posterior tibialis tendonitis or overpronation.
Hiking With Dogs
Not only are humans out on the trails but their dogs too and it’s clear that many dog owners have not given much thought about their dogs paws or other wellness concerns on the trails. Recently, I’ve witnessed many small dogs being carried on trails that clearly were not appropriate for them to be on. Furthermore, their paws need to be conditioned for longer distances, as well as, their joints and muscles too.
Dogs do feel pain and unlike humans cannot complain vocally. Similarly, to what was stated about matching up the type of footwear to the difficulty or type of trail, matching up your dog is wise too along with providing booties or applying Musher’s wax to their paws. Dog’s “dogs” need protection too.
Additional advice that veterinarians share is making sure your dog is current on their vaccinations and well hydrated and nourished. Our Sandia trails require dogs to be leashed and I will opine that this is not only safety for others but also for your dog to stay on the trail and hopefully away from cacti.
Summing up – being safe during your walks/hikes is the message for both you and your “dogs”. My office is open and if concerns arise about human feet/ankles please call. We can see you in person or schedule a virtual visit. If your dog is having paw or other problems, please contact a veterinarian.