Time for a hot dog and the beach...but NOT a literal hot dog.
It's the time of year where people start fully realizing the repercussions of their inactive winters and spring as the tank tops and the shorts emerge along with perhaps a bit of extra jiggle around the middle. Cue the heroic recommitment to fitness and, what luck! The weather is nice and warm, encouraging sweaty detox and if you're a dog owner, you even get to multi-task like the efficient person you are by bringing your dog along! This concept is not inherently wrong but what if you accidentally brought harm to your canine companion without meaning to? Writer Michael Rowe, who lives in a predominantly dog-owning neighborhood, has an important reminder.
Don't sacrifice your dog's life to get your cardio in this summer.
Surely he's exaggerating, right? It's easy to brush off a statement so seemingly dramatic, but take into consideration a few warm weather tips from the American Veterinary Medical Foundation:
-If you think it's hot outside, it's even hotter for your pet – make sure your pet has a means of cooling off
-Take walks during the cooler hours of the day
-When walking, try to stay off of hot surfaces (like asphalt) because it can burn your dog's paws
The inspiration (or more accurately, aggravation) for Mr. Rowe to write his original article was seeing a neighbor running in the hot weather with headphones blasting, dragging her dogs behind her in the heat, one being an older, short-legged dachshund and the other in a pinch collar. There were so many things wrong with this picture. She couldn't hear them desperately panting. She didn't acknowledge the blazing hot pavement on their paws and didn't seem to care that they were overheating - she had set her pace. This, among so many other similar examples, is a big reminder to dog owners just how important it is to be vigilant and conscientious of what the heat means for their beloved pets.
He'll run until trying to keep up with your bike causes his core body temperature to hit 41ºC or higher and he begins to die. As you jerk the leash attached to his collar and snap at him to "keep up," he'll wonder what he did to deserve this punishment. You can be certain his very last thoughts, before he goes into the agonizing, fatal convulsions of heat stroke, will be of his guilt at not being able to please you by running fast enough.
A dramatization but not impossible. And if you don't want to believe Michael Rowe, how about a little bit of what famous dog whisperer Cesar Millan says:
Exercise your dog early in the morning or late at night.
Since these are the cooler parts of the day, this will make the walk more comfortable for both you and your dog. I’m a believer in vigorous exercise for healthy dogs, but this is the time of year to back off on exercise intensity.
Use doggie boots.
You can find these at your local pet supply store. If you can’t walk your dog during the early and later hours of the day, this is a good way of protecting him. Heat rises from the ground, especially on surfaces like cement and asphalt, and dogs absorb and release heat through their feet. Just like boots prevent the dog from absorbing the cold in the winter, they also isolate heat.
Watch for signs of dehydration.
Dogs can’t sweat. They cool off by panting, so an overheated dog will drool excessively. It will become lethargic, its eyes will be bloodshot, and it may appear a little pale. If you lift its skin, it will take longer than usual for the skin to fall back into place.
Keep your dog hydrated!
Different dogs have different needs when battling the heat. Keep in mind that darker coats absorb more heat than lighter coats. Also, overweight dogs are at higher risk for dehydration. Carry a bottle of water when going on a walk with your dog. Better yet have your dog carry it for you in a backpack or a vest! The water in the bottles will keep the dog cooler and also give the dog a sense of purpose.
So this summer, get your beach bod on, but just make sure to practice safe sun. Your dog will thank you.
H/T: Huffingtonpost.com, AVMA.org, Allstarpetresort.com