As the summer months approach (or if you happen to live in a hotter climate) and staying fit is a priority for you, along with exercising with your dog, there are precautions to take. The hotter weather can create certain hazards for your pooch, including overheating and dehydration. Here are some tips that will show you how to keep your dog healthy in hot weather while enjoying fun exercises.
Running & Cycling
If you are an avid runner or cycler who loves to bring your dog along, consider adjusting your schedule to the morning or evening when it is cooler outside. Even during these ‘cooler’ times of day, keep an eye out of your dog’s breathing and have plenty of water on hand. If your dog starts to show signs of weakness or labored breathing, stop what you are doing immediately and get them to a cool shaded area. In the heat especially, reduce the intensity and distance you would normally strive for and opt for a lower impact ride and shorter routes. Be sure there are plenty of shaded areas as well.
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A wonderful way to keep your dog cool during the hot weather months while still keeping them active is of course anything to do with a nice cold body of water. We are talking about anything from swimming in a pool or lake, paddle boarding, water polo (if they’re that skilled), or anything that gets them paddling around.
If your dog isn’t a swimmer another tip on how to exercise them is by turning the sprinkler on! Toss a ball or frisbee back and forth through the water, or if your dog is a little mischievous, they may even want to play keep away with the hose itself!
Keep Activities Indoors
A lethargic or overheated pup is never a good thing! If it’s just too hot or your dog does not want to exercise outdoors in the heat, you can always try some air-conditioned, indoor dog activities to help get your dog exercising. Play indoor games such as fetch or hide and seek with kibble pieces as treats. If your home doesn’t have a/c, consider going to a pet friendly store to get out of the house and it allows you both to cool down. Then once it is cool outside you can let them back out again.
A good rule of thumb is if it feels uncomfortably warm or hot for you, then it is even more uncomfortable for your dog. The following are things to keep in mind and indicators that you need to stop exercising your dog.
Always air on the side of caution when outside and walking on pavement, sand, or other surfaces as they can easily burn your dog’s pads.
If your dog has any health concerns such as a heart condition, keep them inside. Breeds with thicker coats will also benefit from staying indoors as it will take them longer to cool off then short haired pups.
Keep your canines’ tender ears, noses, and bellies from getting burnt! Do not use sunscreen formulated for humans but those specifically for dogs. They should not contain zinc oxide or para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA), as these ingredients are toxic to dogs if ingested, and dogs will often lick their skin and accidentally ingest the sunscreen. It’s also a clever idea to look for a waterproof, unscented dog sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30.
Be on the lookout for signs of exhaustion. From rapid breathing, excess salivation, vomiting, weakness, or any other unusual behaviors. If these signs start to take place, immediately move them to a cool, shady place and wet them down with cool water.
Exercising your dog doesn’t have to be delayed due to weather but use your common sense when it comes to knowing when it's too hot to go outdoors. With these options and new tools under your belt, you can safely have fun with your pet while the temperatures outside increase. Now go enjoy the nice weather and beat the heat in the right way!