WOW!! It has been boiling hot here in San Diego and other parts of the country. Should you take Fido out in this heat? What kind of exercise can you and your dog do in the heat that is safe. A few things that 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 face 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, shih tzus, bulldogs, and pugs should not be outside in the heat. They have poor panting mechanisms and overheat very quickly.
There are a variety of options that you can choose from to exercise your dog:
1/Take your dog to the pool, lake, bay or ocean and let them swim.
2/ Take you dog on a walk or run EARLY in the morning or LATE in the day.
3/ Go on shorter walks and find shaded areas, your dog will not require as much exercise when they are hot.
4/ Teach your dogs a few new tricks–mentally stimulating your dog will tire them out quickly
5/ Bring your dog to a Leash Your Fitness class. Our exercises are timed and we shorten the cardio time when it is hot that way the dog can rest and cool down between cardio sessions.
Whatever activity that you choose–make sure you have PLENTY of water for you AND your dog. You can also try a cooling vest for your dog, one of the pit bulls in our class wears one and it works great. Give your dog a break if he/she is slowing down or panting excessively. A sign of heat stroke is 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 him/her to a vet IMMEDIATELY. You can place cool towels or spray water over them to help them cool, especially on their paws. Our neighbor’s pit bull died from heat stroke and it was just on a walk in the neighborhood, so PLEASE do not take these conditions lightly.
A few things that you DON’T want to do with your dog in the heat:
1/ Hike–the trails are not shaded and there are rattlesnakes out in hot weather
2/ Walk/ run on pavement–this is very hot on their pads. Always feel the ground when you have your dog out in the heat–if you can not walk on the ground in your barefeet then fido can’t either! This goes for the sand at the beach as well.
3/ Leave your dog in your car–it is like an oven even for a few minutes. Leave Fido at home in the AC when you run errands in the summer.
4/ ANY physical activity in the middle of the day.
Just because you are not overheating does not mean that 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 get them cut too short. Use common sense and watch for the signs that your dog is not comfortable, this may save Fido’s life.