Walking your dog in the winter with feet of snow on the ground is difficult; so many pet parents look forward to summer. Unfortunately, exercising your dog in the summer comes with its own set of challenges. Exercise is crucial to your pet’s health and can help prevent dog boredom that leads to destructive behavior. Unfortunately, summer is hot, which can be dangerous to humans and their animal companions. While summer is a great season to let your dog spend more time outside, it can also be harmful. Additionally, you should never let your dog outside and leave them there for hours, especially without access to shade and water.
While you know you should exercise your dog, walking your dog in the summer can be difficult, especially in extreme heat. So here are some tips to help you improve your dog’s health without putting them at risk of heat exhaustion.
Go Outside Early or Late
If you walk your dog every day, you may have found that it’s incredibly hot on your daily walks. Most people walk their dogs before work, but even early morning hours can be too hot for dogs if the sun is already up. Instead, you can change your dog’s schedule and start walking them earlier in the morning or late at night to allow them to get the exercise they need without worrying about them getting too warm. Your dog will enjoy the cooler temperatures that allow them to stay out later, and you’ll feel more comfortable and less worn out after your walk.
Swimming is a great way to keep your dog cool while ensuring they get physical activity in the summer. Whether you live by a beach or have a pond or pool for your dog to swim in, getting your dog into the water and allowing them to play can be a great way to ensure their health, no matter how hot it is outside.
If you don’t have any water nearby, you can set up a pup pool in your yard. These shallow pools are ideal for dogs who love playing in the water but don’t like deep water and want their paws on the ground. Instead of swimming, you can play with your dog in a small pool where they feel safe.
Your dog shouldn’t spend too much time outside midday during the summer. However, if you have a wooded path with tons of trees for shade, you can still take your dog on a hike. Dogs love hikes because they get to step off the pavement and roads and into nature, where there are tons of smells and fun places to explore. In addition, dirt trails will keep your dog’s paws cool and comfortable, unlike pavement that can scorch paw pads and cause cracking.
Wet Your Dog’s Belly
Bringing a wet cloth with you on your dog’s walk can keep them cool. Also, wetting your dog’s belly every few minutes can keep them cooler because the sun won’t dry those areas as quickly. You should also bring along extra water with a collapsible bowl to take breaks when they get too hot and rehydrate while cooling their little body.
Know the Signs of Heat Exhaustion
Your dog may love spending time outside in the summer, but they don’t know about the dangers. As a pet parent, you should know the signs of heat exhaustion in dogs, which include excessive panting, lethargy, and confusion. If your dog is showing any of these signs, get them inside as soon as possible and give them fresh, cool water. Call your vet immediately if your pet continues to exhibit signs after taking a break.
Walk on Grass
The grass is softer and cooler on paw pads than pavement or roads. When the weather gets warm, the sun can make pavement incredibly hot, which can burn paw pads and cause painful cracking. Instead, let your dog walk on the grass instead of the pavement to reduce the risk of injury and infection. If you’re unsure whether the pavement is too hot for your dog, touch it with your hand to determine if it’s too hot.
Take Shorter Walks
Your dog might be used to getting a long walk first thing in the morning. However, as it gets hotter throughout the day, they might not be able to withstand the heat. Instead of putting your dog in danger of heat exhaustion, you can take shorter walks more frequently throughout the day. Taking shorter, more frequent walks will ensure your dog is getting the same amount of exercise while reducing their risk of illness.
Some dogs are high-energy and need tons of exercise. Unfortunately, with the high heat of summer, your dog might not be able to play outside as much as they’d like. Instead, try exercising your dog inside by providing them with tons of activities to do. For example, you can play with a tug toy together to strengthen your bond instead of going on a walk. If your dog has dog friends, you can invite their friends over for a play-date and let them chase each other around the house.
Don’t forget about mental exercise, either. If your dog needs tons of physical activity to prevent boredom and prevent them from destroying the house, consider providing them with mental stimulation instead of going for a walk. Mental stimulation works out your dog’s brain rather than their body, which can be more tiring for dogs who aren’t used to using their brains as much as humans are. To stimulate your dog’s mind, you can buy them a treat dispensing toy that will keep their attention and force them to solve problems in order to get a treat.
Summer can be a dangerous time to exercise your dog outside. Consider the time of day if you’re ever unsure whether walking your dog is safe. Walking your dog in the early morning or late at night is typically safest. However, your dog might still require exercise throughout the day. If your dog must go outside during the hottest times of day, ensure they have water and a shady spot for when they need a break from the sun.