During the summer season, it’s critical to take extra precautions when walking your dog. Dogs can be subject to heatstroke and other related illnesses including dehydration, paw pad burns, and even sunburn. Therefore, it’s important to keep them safe and comfortable during your walks.
- Consider the time of day you take your pup out in the heat.
- Use your palm to ensure the pavement or sidewalk is cool enough for their paws.
- Carry water for the both of you during the walk.
- Always keep your pup on a leash.
- If your dog shows any signs of distress, call your veterinarian immediately.
1. Consider the Time of Day
Timing is everything when it comes to walking your dog in the summer. Schedule your walks during the cooler parts of the day, such as early morning or late evening. These times typically have lower temperatures and a reduced risk of pavement burns.
Avoid walking during the warmest hours, usually between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., as the pavement can become extremely hot and uncomfortable for your dog and their sensitive paws.
2. Always Bring Water
Just like humans, dogs need to stay hydrated, especially in hot weather. Always carry a portable water bottle and a collapsible bowl during walks. Offer your dog water breaks every 15–20 minutes, especially on hot, humid days. Remember, dogs can’t cool down as well as humans, so maintaining their hydration levels is important.
3. Protect Their Paws
Pavement and asphalt can become extremely hot in the summer, potentially causing burns and blisters on your dog’s paw pads. Avoid hot surfaces and consider using dog booties or applying paw balm to create a protective barrier.
If you’re unsure whether the pavement is too hot, place the back of your hand on it for a few seconds. If it's too hot for your hand, it’s too hot for your dog’s paws. Alternatively, choose a grassy trail to minimize paw pad exposure to hot pavement.
4. Choose Shaded Paths
Find walking paths that offer shade to minimize your dog’s exposure to direct sunlight. Trees, buildings, or covered trails can provide relief from the scorching sun and help prevent overheating. Plan your route accordingly to ensure there are shaded areas along the way in case your dog wants to rest or cool down.
5. Take Frequent Breaks
During hot walks, allow your dog to take breaks and rest in shady spots as often as they need. Avoid overexertion and listen to your dog’s cues. Signs of overheating include excessive panting, drooling, stumbling, or bright red gums. If you notice any of these signs, find a cool place to rest and offer your dog water immediately.
6. Use Sun Protection
Just like humans, dogs can suffer from sunburns. Areas with thin fur or exposed skin, like the nose and ears, are particularly vulnerable to sunburn. Apply pet-safe sunscreen to your dog’s nose, ears, and other areas with thin fur or exposed skin. Look for sunscreen specifically formulated for dogs. Human sunscreen can be unsafe and contain ingredients that are toxic to them.
7. Keep Your Pup on a Leash and Make Sure ID Tags Are Updated
During the summer months, it’s common for dogs to get easily distracted or excited by new smells and outdoor activities. Make sure you always have your dog on a leash to prevent them from running off or finding potentially dangerous situations.
Also, make sure their ID tags are up to date with your contact information in case they happen to get loose.
8. Watch for Signs of Heatstroke
Heatstroke is a life-threatening condition that can occur when a dog’s body temperature rises too high too quickly. Symptoms include excessive panting, rapid heartbeat, weakness, vomiting, and collapse. If you suspect heatstroke, move your dog to a cool area, wet their body with cool water, and contact your veterinarian immediately.
9. Consider Shorter Walks
On extremely hot days, it’s best to shorten your walks to reduce the time spent under the sun. Instead of one long walk, consider taking multiple shorter walks during cooler hours to ensure your dog is getting enough exercise.
10. Stay Mindful of Certain Breeds
Some dog breeds are more prone to heat-related issues than others. Brachycephalic breeds, or dogs with broad, shorter skulls, such as English Bulldogs and Pugs, are especially vulnerable due to their snouts and difficulty to cool down. Additionally, dogs with thick coats or underlying health conditions may also struggle in the summer heat. Take extra precautions and be mindful of your dog’s breed and individual needs when planning your walks.
Bonus Tip: Create Fun Indoor Activities
When the temperatures soar (or it’s a rainy day), it’s important to provide alternative ways for your dog to stay active and engaged indoors. Set up indoor enrichment activities, such as puzzle toys, treat-dispensing toys, or hide-and-seek games to keep your dog mentally stimulated and entertained. These activities can help them burn off excess energy without exposing your dog to the heat.
Summer walks with your furry companion can be enjoyable and safe by following these tips. By prioritizing your dog’s well-being and taking these precautions, you can ensure that your summer walks are a fun and safe experience for both you and your pet.
Featured Image: iStock.com/Brad Covington
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