It’s hot out there!
There are days I just don’t want to do a thing, let alone exercise because it’s so hot out! However, I’m pretty sure that my canine counterparts don’t really care about the “Dog Days of Summer”. Their needs and wants don’t change just because it is hot.
I can make sure my dogs are still getting the exercise they need without risking dehydration or heat stroke, a very scary, very serious problem that faces all dogs in the warmer months.
Dogs don’t have the ability to sweat like we do and when they are overheated they can not always fully cool down by panting. Some breeds are more susceptible to overheating or do not tolerate the heat as well as other breeds can. Signs of overheating include, but are not limited to:
- excessive panting and drooling
- a bright red tongue or gums
- thick saliva
- increased heart rate and body temperature
- skin around the muzzle or neck doesn’t snap back when pinched
- Glassy eyes or fearful expression
So what can we do to keep our dogs active and fit, yet safe? Some might suggest restricting exercise and while this may be an option for some, it is not for everyone. If you’re like me and train and compete in performance sports, then keeping your dog’s endurance up is imperative. (I would also argue that ALL dogs need to stay fit and trim whether they are performance dogs, seniors, or “just a pet” -but that’s another topic for another day 😉
One way many of us enjoy our time while conditioning our dogs is by walking with them. In the summer heat this can be dangerous so keep in mind the temperature outdoors. More importantly, consider the temperature of the pavement. With direct sun and no wind, although the thermometer might say 77 degrees outside, the pavement temperature may be 125 degrees! (data source James J. Bergens, MD contact burns from streets and highways, Journal of the American Medical Association; 214(11): 2025-2027.) Would you want to walk barefoot on that for long periods of time? While a dog’s pads seem thicker than the soles of our feet, they can still burn. Keep in mind that the temperatures may be cooler at night, but the pavement has soaked up the sun all day. Try walking in the cooler morning hours, or better yet, take them on a hike on a wooded path where it is shaded by trees or perhaps near a water source. Not all dogs like to wade in the water, but all dogs can enjoy walking by the cooler temps by the shoreline.
If you’re hitting the road with your pal, always bring fresh water with you on your adventures. If you’re romping around the yard at home, add some ice cubes to their water bowl or consider a dash of low sodium broth to entice them to stay hydrated.
If staying indoors is more your speed, consider a doggy treadmill like Dogtread. The bed of the treadmill specifically made for canines allows them to fully extend and trot for longer periods of time than we can often sustain. Not in the budget? Try setting up cavelettis for a great cardiovascular workout for your pup.
Summer time is a great time of year to get outside and be active with our furry friends. Just remember, all they want to do is go, go, go! Know your dog when it comes to exercising them. Pay attention to signs of Fatigue and how well they tolerate the heat. Make wise choices when getting out there this summer! If you’d like additional information on any of the exercises options discussed here or to get a conditioning plan for your canine,Contact me 🙂