Quandary: Dogs and altitude sickness | SummitDaily.com

Quandary: Dogs and altitude sickness

Dear Quandary,

Can dogs get altitude sickness?

While Summit teeters on the edge of being a haven for pups, sadly this is the one downside: Dogs can get altitude sickness. Now, unless your 'Zuma dog has a weekend penthouse in Denver, locals need not worry — except if your dog is your climbing partner.

If that's the case or if you've just arrived from the lowlands, anywhere below 9,000 feet, keep an eye on your pooch for the symptoms of altitude sickness. While you're at it, watch yourself too.

Just like people, the thin air here might make your faithful sidekick feel lethargic, dizzy and can cause vomiting and diarrhea. Unlike you — hopefully — dogs can also have excessive drooling and panting.

To improve your odds if you are coming in from New Orleans, or another sea-level location, consider stopping off in Denver for a night before making the full ascent to the High Country. There's no shame in sauntering into a vacation; we can't all be mountain goats, you know.

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Really, that's the key for making this whole trip successful: Take it slow. If you start to notice any symptoms in your pup, make sure they have water available and the staff at Frisco Animal Hospital say you might consider adding extra water to your pet's food. Altitude sickness in itself isn't caused from a lack of fluids, but it can quickly lead to bigger problems. If you do see a difference in your pup's mentality and behavior, go ahead and take him to the vet just to make sure you don't get to that point of dehydration.

To avoid getting that far in the first place, it takes a little situational awareness. Being in Summit it's easy for a pup to get spoiled. There are water bowls on nearly every Main Street and any number of businesses from clothing stores to breweries will happily treat your companion.

For dogs and humans alike, a day of eating and drinking your way through the county can quickly take a toll. Your dog doesn't know his limits though; he will not decline treats regardless of how many he's had. This is where you have to take one for the team, though it will most likely make you a villain: When someone asks, "Can I give your dog a treat?" — say no. It hurts and it feels like a betrayal, but you gotta do it for his sake. It may be vacation, but we all have to draw the line somewhere, and compared to all the glories of having the mountains for your backyard, a bland diet doesn't seem like that big of a hit to take.

Questions?

Quandary, the old and wise mountain goat, has been around Summit County for ages, and has the answers to all questions about life, love and laws in the High Country. Have a question for Quandary? Email your queries about Summit and the High Country to Quandary@summitdaily.com.