Walking your dog in the summer can be dangerous. Unfortunately, it must be done because your dog needs exercise, and the easiest way to provide them with the health benefits of exercise is to go for a walk. Luckily, walking your dog in the summer doesn't have to be dangerous. While you should always be aware of any signs of heat exhaustion and heat rash, you can reduce your dog's risk of getting sick from the heat and sun. Whether you’re a first-time dog owner or an experienced owner, follow these tips to walk your dog during the summer months.
Avoid Hot Asphalt
Asphalt, gravel, and pavement get incredibly hot in the summer as the sun beams down onto them. Even though your dog's paw pads are stronger than the skin on your feet, they can still burn. If you're unsure whether the ground is too hot for your dog to walk on, touch it with your hand. If you cannot hold your hand on the ground for more than five seconds, it's too hot for your dog to walk on. If the gravel is too hot for your dog's paws, let them walk on the grass instead of on the road or sidewalk.
Sidewalks that are lighter in color will not be as hot as dark asphalt, but it's always best to check concrete pavement as soon as you walk outside with your dog. Luckily, the pavement will cool off quickly as soon as the sun goes down, so your dog can walk on the sidewalk or on the road later at night or earlier in the morning.
Check your dog's paw pads after every walk to ensure they haven't burned or cracked. If you notice your dog's paw pads look dry or cracked, contact your vet for a list of recommended products you can use to help heal them.
Keep Them Safe From Pests
Many pests, including mosquitoes, fleas, and ticks, come out during the warm months, so you must protect your dog. Mosquitoes carry heartworm, while fleas carry Lyme disease, which can make your dog incredibly ill. Check them for fleas and ticks regularly if your dog spends tons of time outside during the warm months. You should also know how to remove a tick if you see one on your dog. Because these pests burrow their heads into their hosts, they're difficult to remove without the right tools.
Luckily, you can get heartworm and tick and flea prevention medication that your dog takes once a month to protect them. However, vets recommend giving your pets these medications year-round to prevent illnesses.
Adjust your Route
Depending on where you walk your dog, you might have to adjust your route in the summer months. Not only will you have to spend more time on grass, but you might choose to take your dog through wooded areas to keep them cool during periods of extreme heat. Additionally, you may not be able to walk as far as you're used to.
When it's hot outside, consider walking your dog more often for shorter periods of time. Remember, if you can feel the heat through your walking shoes, the ground is much too hot for your dog’s paw pads. Keeping walks short at 30 minutes on a grassy area will ensure your dog can do their business and get exercise without giving them the chance to get overheated.
If you plan to take your dog for a walk far away from home, always bring supplies in a bag to ensure your dog can stay hydrated and cool. Always bring an extra water bottle and a collapsible bowl when walking your dog in the summer to ensure they have access to clean, cool water. You should never let your dog drink from ponds or puddles as bacteria could make them ill; so instead, come prepared with your own water and bowl.
When walking your dog, pay close attention to their activity to ensure they're not suffering from heat exhaustion. You'll notice increased panting, drooling, shade-seeking, and even lethargy when dogs become overheated. If your dog gets tired on your walk, start heading back to ensure they won't get overheated.
Stay Close to Home
While your dog may want to go on a long walk, it might not be safe for them to venture too far away from home. When walking your dog, consider going around the block just in case you have to come back because they're tired from the heat. Also, because heat exhaustion can happen quickly, it's best to be close to home in case you need to carry your dog home so they won't become more exhausted.
Play in the Yard
If you have a yard where you can play with your dog, consider skipping the walk on the hottest days. While dogs left alone in the yard will typically dig, sit, or nap, you can ensure your dog gets enough physical activity by playing with them. For example, you can teach your dog to fetch or play with them in the sprinkler to keep them cool. Whatever you do, try not to overdo it. Even though you're at your home, your dog can still get overheated. If you plan to let your dog spend time outside alone, leave them with water and ensure they have a shady spot to utilize when they get too warm.
Some days it might be too hot to take your dog for a walk. Instead, you may have to allow your dog short potty breaks and make them come back inside quickly to ensure they won't get heat exhaustion. Of course, you may also choose to avoid walks some days for your own health, too. Consider playing together inside on days when it's just too hot to take Fido for a walk. A few activities you and your canine companion can enjoy together include:
- Indoor fetch
- Tug of war
- Hide and seek
Of course, there's nothing wrong with taking a day off from exercise, either. Your dog will be just as happy to spend some quality time with you no matter what you're doing.
Taking care of your dog's health during the summer is crucial. If you walk your dog during these hot months, try taking them before the sun has come up or after it has gone down to avoid weather that's too hot and can be dangerous to their health.