Safely Exercising your Dog in the Summer
With the summer quickly approaching in the Northern Hemisphere, the temperatures and humidity levels (in most places) will rise to their peak levels. Summer certainly lends itself to working out as the longer, warmer days provide a larger window of opportunity to get outside and exercise. However, as a dog owner, you should be aware of the risks of exercising your dog in the summer and take precautions to ensure that you and your dog can remain active no matter how hot or humid it might get.
Adjust your workout time. Early mornings are usually the coolest parts of the day, and they are the best time to work out with your dog in the summer. Reschedule your routine so that a majority of your dog’s exercise is achieved in the early morning (e.g. before 8 AM) if possible. Another alternative is to exercise in the late evening, just as the sun is setting, although in some locations, there is not much of a heat/humidity break at this time.
Adjust the duration and intensity of your workouts. When it is hot and humid, every workout will become more difficult as the body will expend energy to stay cool. Just like human athletes will plan on an acclimation period to new climates, an acclimation period is a smart strategy for your dog. As it gets hotter, cut back on the duration or intensity of your dog’s workouts. Give them a chance to acclimate to the conditions and then gradually build back up to their normal levels. Another smart strategy is to split up a workout into two or more smaller workouts. This will minimize the chances of your dog overheating and will provide them the opportunity to rehydrate, refuel, and rest before going out in the heat again.
Change the surface. For those that exercise on the pavement, don’t forget that blacktop can get extremely hot during the summer. Your dog is most likely not wearing athletic shoes, so they will notice the heat of the pavement. Try running on grass or a trail instead. Your dog will thank you for it. Another alternative is to move some of your sessions indoors (e.g. on a dog treadmill or a gym), where the climate can be controlled.
Monitor your dog’s behavior during and after the workout. This is just as important as the workout itself. Obviously, if you notice your dog is sluggish, less sure footed, or wants to lie down more than normal, you should stop and get back inside. Less obvious is watching for signs of heat stress after the workout is over. Keep a sharp eye on your dog throughout the day and if you notice that they are acting sluggish, cut back on the next few day’s exercise.
Hydrate properly. Although dogs don’t sweat, exercising in the heat and humidity will increase their water requirements. A normal dog can require 50-60 ml of water per kilogram of bodyweight. This means that a 25 lb. dog would need around 20 ounces of water each day. A more active dog, especially one that is active in the heat and humidity of the summer, would require even more. Make sure that they have access to fresh water and refill/refresh their water bowl several times during the day.Please enjoy our FitDog Friday Blog Hop brought to you by SlimDoggy and our co-hosts To Dog with Love and My GBGV Life. Join the Hop or just enjoy the links below - lots of fun fitness tips and advice!