Whew! I don’t know about where you live, but here in Florida, it’s hot right now! And of course, once you add in the humidity, the heat index goes through the roof.
As much as my dog Chilly and I would love to just park ourselves indoors with the A/C, we need to get some exercise. Chilly’s a young, energetic Lab mix and there’s nothing that he loves more than going for walks.
Those walks are good for both of us, but extra precautions are required at this time of the year…especially for Chilly. As a dog, he can’t cool himself as efficiently as we humans can. While our ability to perspire helps us regulate our body temperatures, dogs can only dissipate heat by panting. Plus, there’s that whole problem with not being able to take off their fur coats. And in Chilly’s case, that coat is black!
All this makes dogs much more prone to overheating and heatstroke. The latter is a serious medical condition that can lead to organ failure and even death! Signs of heatstroke include excessive panting, pale gums, rapid heart rate, vomiting and seizures.
That’s why it’s so important to take steps to keep our exercise buddies cool during the dog days of summer.
Watch the Weather
Before heading out on a jog or even just for a romp in the park, tune in to your local weather station, app or online resource. If the forecast calls for abnormally high temperatures, it’s probably safer to stay at home.
Heat isn’t the only thing to be concerned with, though. High humidity can turn even a relatively mild day into a dangerously hot one. Finally, keep an eye on air quality as high ozone levels can make it difficult for both dogs and humans to breathe.
Timing Is Everything
Try to arrange your exercise schedule around the coolest times of the day, typically early in the morning or late in the evening. However, remember that those are also the times when many pests are most active. So take precautions by making sure your pet is up-to-date on flea, tick and heartworm preventative medications. Also, look for an all-natural repellent to discourage flying insects like flies and gnats.
Water, Water Everywhere
Proper hydration is one of the most important things you can do to avoid heat stroke in your pet (and you). Carry enough cool, clean water for both of you, along with a lightweight, collapsible bowl. Make frequent stops and offer water each time.
Having plenty of water will also come in handy if your dog begins to overheat. By immediately getting him to shade and dousing him with water, you may be able to prevent him from succumbing to full-blown heat stroke.
Know When to Say When
If you’re an avid exerciser, it can be easy to think “just one more mile.” Believe me, I know! But pushing yourself or your pooch too far can spell trouble. Keep a close eye on your pet at all times, watching for signs of fatigue or overheating.
If he slows down considerably or stops entirely, he’s probably saying that he’s reached his limits. Never force your dog to continue. Allow him to rest in the shade, offer him some water and then make your way home slowly.
Keep Cool with Hot Pet Products
More and more companies are developing terrific new products to help Fido keep his cool. Here are just a few types on the market today:
- Cooling Jackets – These work by helping our dogs cool off the way we do…through evaporation. Just immerse the jackets with water before heading outdoors. Look for one that is lightweight and is sun-reflective, like the RuffWear Swamp Cooler.
- Cooling Bandanas – If you’re not quite ready to purchase an entire jacket, special doggie cooling bandanas are the next best thing. They’re worn around the neck and, as with the jackets, work through evaporation. Check out this one from Alcott Explorer.
- Doggie Boots – Imagine running on hot pavement in your bare feet. Ouch! Even though they’re used to going without shoes, dogs are still susceptible to pad injuries. Dog-specific boots will help protect their paws from burns, cuts and scrapes.
- Dog Water Bottles – An alternative to carrying a collapsible bowl is to bring a water bottle specifically designed for your pooch. Many, like the Gulpy Jr., incorporate a small bowl into the design.
- Cooling Gel Pads – A great way to help your pup chill out is to use a cooling gel pad. They not only cool down his body temperature, but they’re comfortable. The TheraCool mat from Pet Therapeutics has a “no-chomp” protective cover.
Too Sum it All Up:
• Keep pets well hydrated!
• Heat exhaustion is deadly, keep pets indoors during hottest part of day.
• NEVER leave pet in the car alone.
• Vet check ups and keep emergency vet # handy—just in case.