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Unforeseen dangers (2)…Heat Exhaustion!

Its getting hot and many people do not realise the dangers of exercising their dogs in the heat and how quickly a dog can overheat especially if its humid as well as hot!

Of course, our dogs cant hibernate during summer and do need exercise so let’s look at how to do it safely,

Keep in mind that dogs can potentially overheat much quicker than humans. Here are a few reasons why they can overheat:

  • They have fur! Imagine running with a fleece on in the heat!
  • They lack the rapid heat loss from sweat (e.g., as they only have sweat pads in their paws).
  • They don’t know how to pace themselves  (e.g., they’re so excited they are running all over the place initially):
  • Lots have extra insulation. My Labrador certainly does and while I want you to exercise him, I am very conscious that I need to be careful.

People with pups, seniors, over weight dogs or brachycephalic dogs really need to be especially careful. We are very careful at the SPA not to exercise dogs when it above 30 degrees and even when less than that we choose who can cope with the temperature on any given day!

Lots of us will be off on holiday with our dogs so how are we going to keep them cool but still get out and about?

I am just back from a week in Spain and it was hot. My doggies are oldies and so I was very careful not to overdo it. We walked in the mornings on planned walks with lots of little coves where there was shade and of course they could swim.  We always planned to be back for about lunchtime and the dogs slept in the air-conditioned apartment in the afternoon. They were then happy to have a little stroll when the sun went down in the evening.

So, when in doubt, exercise during non-peak heat hours… very early in the morning or late in the evening. Take plenty of breaks and frequent water stops. Also limit the amount of off lead madness if necessary. If you are lucky enough to live where your dog can swim, then let them have frequent dips in and out…this really helps them stay cool.

Heat stroke can be deadly, so if your dog shows any of the symptoms below, get him to the vet asap.

·         Vomiting or diarrhea

·         Excessive panting or difficulty breathing

·         Dark red or dark pink gums

·         Elevated heart rate.

·         Reluctance to move

·         Staggering drunken gait

Don’t forget that it’s very easy to underestimate how hot the pavements can become. Have you ever tried to walk over hot sand on the beach? It can be agony so do make sure that you test the pavements with your hand…if its too hot for the palms of your hand, then it’s too hot for doggy paws! Burnt pads are very uncomfortable!!!!

So, summer exercise should be shorter early morning / late evening walks and if your dogs must be out and about when its hotter look for walks with water and shade to keep them as cool as possible!

Exercise in the morning or evening when its coolest!


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