You and Fido need to get your run in but the temperature is heating up. Should you take Fido running in the heat? Remember that your dog has a fur coat so they get hot faster than you do. They also do not have shoes on so please be aware of how hot the pavement is where you are running. A few other things you should know is that dogs do not sweat like people do. Most of their sweat glands are located around their paws. If you see wet footprints on your floor, it is most likely sweat unless your dog was playing in the sprinklers. They also have dilating vessels around their faces and ears that help them to cool. The main way that they cool off is by panting. Any snub-nosed dogs like Boxers, Lhasa Apsos, ShihTzus, Bulldogs and Pugs should not be outside in the heat. They have poor panting mechanisms and overheat very quickly.
Below are some tips to keep your dogs safe if you are running in the heat:
1) Always warm up and cool down. This will lessen the stress on you AND your dog’s joints.
2) Build your dog’s endurance like you would your own. Start with short sprints or shorter distances and increase weekly.
3) Teach your dog to walk on a leash correctly before you start running with them. Do not allow them to cross in front of you or pull excessively.
4) Take your dog on a run EARLY in the morning or LATE in the day.
5) Go on shorter runs and find shaded areas; your dog will not require as much exercise when they are hot.
6) Consider run/ walking. This will give your dog a little break to cool down.
7) Run near water where your dog can cool off, even dipping their paws in the water will help.
8) Run with a dog in a harness instead of a collar. If your dog pulls then consider a front harness or gentle leader. The collar will put strain on their neck & may cut off their airway.
9) Take plenty of water for drinking and cooling off if necessary, or run near water fountains or other water sources. Remember to take a collapsible bowl if your dog will not drink from your camelback or water bottle. Take frequent water breaks as your dog can’t tell you when they are thirsty!
10) If your dog overheats quickly, then you may want to consider buying a cooling vest.
11) Allow your dog to run on the grass or other soft surface. If the pavement or trail hurts your dog’s paws, you can purchase booties but give Fido ample time to get used to them; most dogs don’t really like them at first!
12) Always remember your poop bags!! Nothing worse than dog poop on the sidewalk!
It is very important to give your dog a break if she is slowing down or panting excessively. Some signs of heat stroke are heavy panting, confusion, acting sluggish and very red gums and tongue. If this occurs, you need to get your dog water and cool fast and get her to a vet immediately. You can place cool towels or spray water over them to help them cool, especially on their paws. Dogs can die from heat stroke. Their body temperature can rise to unsafe levels even during a short walk, just in the neighborhood in the middle of the day, so please be aware of these signs.
Just because you’re not overheating doesn’t mean your dog isn’t. You don’t have fur insulating your body. If your dog has a lot of fur, you can get their hair cut shorter in the summer. Remember that dogs do burn so don’t cut fur too short.
Check out this list of Dog Friendly Trails on the Leash Your Fitness blog.
Dawn Celapino, Personal Trainer & owner of Leash Your Fitness, a fitness class in San Diego for you AND your dog! Home of the World’s Largest Dog Fitness Class!