Tips for Walking your Dog in the Heat
As a dog owner, you’re responsible for keeping your furry friend healthy and safe when you take them out for walks. However, doing so is difficult when the weather isn’t cooperating, such as during extreme heat.
When temperatures soar, walking your dog can become dangerous since they’re particularly vulnerable to heat stroke. Even then, they still need to exercise. So, ensure you have some measures to protect them whenever they’re outside and in the heat. Let’s discuss the dangers of walking your four-legged friend under the sun and some tips to keep them safe and comfortable.
The Risks of Walking Your Dog in the Heat
- Burned paws
Sunlight significantly raises the temperature of pavements that can burn your dog’s paw pads, which can be extremely painful. They may also limp or refuse to walk, indicating burned paws or that the ground is too hot.
Like humans, dogs need a readily available water supply to remain hydrated during activity and intense heat. Otherwise, they can become dehydrated and lose more fluids than they intake. This situation can result in dry gums, thick saliva, and lethargy, which may spiral into organ failure.
Extreme heat increases your dog’s internal temperature. Due to this, your dog may experience signs of overheating, such as exhaustion, drooling, and lethargy—spiraling into heat stroke if it goes on for too long without immediate treatment. Furthermore, warm weather may also flare up dogs’ stress levels, resulting in aggression and dog bites.
When dogs start breathing rapidly, vomiting, and fainting as they walk under the sun, they can suffer from heatstroke. It occurs when their body temperature rises considerably above its normal range, causing organ damage and death in severe cases.
The Kennel Club reports that 75% of heat stroke cases for dogs result from exercising on hot days. Meanwhile, 13% stem from pets being unable to cope in hot weather. Dogs with thick coats and short snouts are also more susceptible to this condition because they can’t regulate heat efficiently like other breeds.
5 Tips for Dog Walking in the Heat
Heatstroke in dogs is a potentially deadly but avoidable situation, even if the hot weather shows no signs of cooling down. Here are some ways to keep dogs safe during these conditions.
- Pick the right time
Walking your dog during the hottest hours of the day—between noon and sunset when temperatures are at their highest—increases the risk of heatstroke and dehydration. Consider choosing a walking time when the sun is less intense, like early morning or after sundown. This way, you and your pal can enjoy bonding comfortably.
Check humidity levels in your area as well. Elevated figures make body temperature management challenging for your dog, even if the weather isn’t necessarily hot. That said, if walking during cooler hours isn’t possible, practicing the following tips can still help you compensate and protect your best friend from the heat.
- Prepare your dog
Prepare for the heat before going out, like putting on dog boots to protect their paws from hot pavements. Also, bring a UV-protection umbrella for extra shade if you plan on walking somewhere with minimal trees and buildings.
Most importantly, take plenty of cool water to avoid dehydrating your pet. Bring a portable water bowl so your furry friend can easily take hydration breaks when needed. Ample preparation ensures a comfortable and safe walk for you and your pal.
- Protect your dog from the sun
Dogs can also get sunburns, especially on parts with thin hair like their nose, ears, and belly. Sunburns are painful and can damage their skin, so protect them from direct sunlight. For example, try to walk along routes with trees and buildings providing shade or place an umbrella on the ground to create a cool spot for them to rest under.
Additionally, consider buying pet sunscreen. This product typically comes in a bottle to spray on your dog’s coat to protect them from harmful UV light. Dog shirts and hats can also protect against direct sunlight, especially for breeds with thin coats and dark-colored fur.
- Look out for signs of heat exhaustion
No matter your efforts, there are times when the weather is too hot for your dog and induces heat exhaustion. It’s essential to watch for its symptoms because failing to identify them on time can lead to potentially deadly illnesses.
Excessive panting is a tell-tale sign of an overheated dog, especially when they’re breathing faster than usual. Your pet may also become disoriented, collapse on the ground, and refuse to stand. In worse situations, vomiting or diarrhea may appear, in which case you must take them to a veterinary clinic as soon as possible to prevent an incoming heatstroke.
Keeping Your Dog Happy and Healthy
Walking is essential to your dog’s daily exercise and enrichment routine. But it can be dangerous during periods of intense heat. Heatstroke has sadly taken many animal lives, so it’s crucial to take measures to keep pets safe. Pick the right time, make adequate preparations, and watch for signs of heat exhaustion to ensure your dog’s safety during walks under the sun.
Remember to prioritize your dog’s health and well-being and be prepared for any adjustments. If you think they can’t handle the heat, don’t take any risks and defer outdoor activities. In the meantime, you can do other indoor enrichment activities, like training sessions and scavenger hunts. Ultimately, these tips ensure you and your dog can enjoy a safe and comfortable walk any time of the year.