Safely Exercising your Dog in the Summer

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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.

keep your dog cool

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.

jackstretch_summer 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.

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28 Comments

  1. Hi Y’all,

    With continuing 90 plus heat…air conditioning! shade! Pedialyte! water!

    Y’all come on by,
    Hawk aka BrownDog
    Hawk aka BrownDog recently posted…Fitness Isn’t Easy in the SummerMy Profile

  2. Drink lots of water, and swim or get your own pool. That is what we do in the heat. Luckily being early risers, the bulk of our big workouts are done before 8am so it isn’t too warm.
    Emma recently posted…Animal Chiropractors Help With FitnessMy Profile

  3. Those are good tips. We tend to do a lot more water work when it gets hot out.
    2 Brown Dawgs recently posted…Testing The TestMy Profile

  4. Great tips! I use those and then some in order to keep the sibes nice and cool through the summer 🙂
    ღ husky hugz ღ frum our pack at Love is being owned by a husky!
    Jenna,Mark “HuskyCrazed” Drady recently posted…Huskies Loving Life #FuelTheCureMy Profile

  5. Barley is not a huge fan of the heat (and in her opinion anything over 60 degrees is hot), so she’s very good at letting me know when she’s had enough. Usually that means plopping down in the shade and putting the breaks on until I say, “Are you ready to go home?” With her black fur, she gets hot very quickly with even the tiniest hint of sun, so I usually carry water for her to drink and water for wetting her down to keep her cooler, too. Thanks for the great tips!
    Beth recently posted…Slowing Things DownMy Profile

  6. Great tips and always a good reminder. Luckily Penny and Eko’s favorite spot, the beach, is perfect on all fronts for summer play.

  7. All great tips and important to remember as things heat up!
    Diane recently posted…First Look: Healthy Pet Simply Feed from PetSafeMy Profile

  8. Brilliant advice guys. We heard of someone who’s dog overheated and, very sadly, passed away when running around at midday, playing with the kids in the back yard. So depressing, yet so simple to prevent.

    sumskersandearlskers13.blogspot.com
    Earl Lover recently posted…Competition PrepMy Profile

  9. Whatcha doing in that last picture? I’d love to learn more about canine conditioning just as a fun new thing to do. 🙂
    DZ Dogs recently posted…Happy Adoptaversary!! Giveaway!My Profile

  10. Early morning walks & playtime in the water are our two keys to ensuring Missy & Buzz stay well exercised during the hot summer months!
    Barbara Rivers recently posted…Fit Dogs Despite The Summer Heat!My Profile

  11. Great tips as always. Poor Kilo the black Pug does not like the cold or the extreme heat. I have to be really careful with him as he can overheat easily. I always have lots of water for him to drink if we walk. Unfortunately he is not a fan of getting wet either and it could be risky swimming or splashing as I wouldn’t want to get water in his face/lungs. He just lies down on cool surfaces and I’ll be looking for some other ideas.

  12. We really hate hot weather! As a black dog I get overheated even more quickly, we have to walk where its shady and only first thing in the morning. Sometimes even by 9am its too hot for me. Even in the morning though we always make sure to drink water and take it slow so thanks for reminding everyone that we have to take precautions. Love Dolly
    Dolly the Doxie recently posted…Taffy Tries the HALTI OPTIFIT Head CollarMy Profile

  13. Mr. N plops down in the grass if he gets too warm. And then I carry him home.

  14. Such great information that we all need to listen to. I like that you put in the part about the pavement, people think animals feet are tough or something, that pavement can get really hot.
    Sand Spring Chesapeakes recently posted…Keeping Muscles Warm When Training In The Cold~FitDog FridayMy Profile

  15. Those tips are great. I’ve also got a few of my own:
    1.if you are unable to exercise your dog during the cooler time of the day, you should try to find a place with adequate shade. At least that way when the dog is too hot they can sit under a tree while cooling down.
    2. Some dog’s drink their water water too quickly and vomit afterwards. Any time your dog does this, give them a few ice cubes instead. Only allow them to drink their water once they’ve cooled down completely.

    Kind regards
    Sam ivy
    Sam Ivy recently posted…5 Recipes Your Dog will Love You For – #1 Parsley Breath BitsMy Profile

  16. I have a funny admission to make. When we first got Labs, both my husband and I were grad students in physiology, and we knew how easily a dog can overheat because panting isn’t a very effective cooling mechanism. So, we carried a digital rectal thermometer (a canine one) with us on runs to help us learn to correlate our dogs’ behavior with their body temperatures. Fortunately, we both exercised on empty trails so no one ever saw us taking our dogs’ temperatures out on the trails 🙂

    I’m so glad that you posted about this. As you know, dogs can’t cool as easily as humans so the owner might be fine when the dog is not. I sometimes see people out with dogs who look to me like they’re close to keeling over from the heat and the humans are oblivious. Great post!
    KB recently posted…The Return of the Big BearsMy Profile

  17. Slim, you will be happy to know we walked a few miles this morning and was back before 8am. Temps are going up to 89 today, so we will either remain indoors, or make some water fun after lunch! Have a great one….
    Groovy Goldendoodles recently posted…MEMORIAL DAYMy Profile

  18. When the temps rise, we tend to take our evening constitution later and even wait until after sundown so as not to get either of us overheated. Sometimes, even at 9 PM it’s still well in the upper 80s. Luckily humidity in the 303 is not generally a problem.
    Monika recently posted…Home of the FreeMy Profile

  19. Good tips. Today is very humid, we did our longer walk this morning and kept the afternoon walk short. I have to put musher’s secret on my list to help protect their feet from the hot pavement.
    Jodi recently posted…Happy Gotcha Day Delilah!My Profile

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