8 steps to safely exercising your dog in hot weather

by PDSA | 12 July #Lifestyle

We know how important exercise is when keeping our dogs’ body and mind healthy, but knowing how to exercise them safely on blazing hot days while preventing overheating, can be difficult. With the weather set to heat up, we’ve put together 8 steps to take when safely exercising your pooch in the heat!

1. Avoid the hottest part of the day

We all love a glorious walk in the sunshine with our four-legged friends, however when the weather is hot it’s best to avoid walking your dog during the hottest part of the day. It will be more comfortable for both you and your pooch if you walk them during early mornings or evenings, before 8am and after 5pm. Take extra care to avoid the midday sun, as this is when they’re most at risk of overheating.

It’s also important to keep this is mind when spending time in the garden. On hot summer days, it’s always best to keep your pup indoors as much as possible, as they can still overheat when lying in the garden sunshine. Only take them outside in short intervals, and never leave them out during the hottest part of the day!

 

2. Watch out for hot pavements

Roads, pavements and even sand can become extremely hot on summer days, so it’s important to be extra cautious to make sure that the pads of your dog’s paws don’t get burnt.

Before taking your pooch out for a stroll, remember to check whether the surface is too hot first with the 5 second test. Simply hold your hand or bare foot on the floor for 5 seconds – if it’s too hot for you, it’s definitely too hot for your four-legged friend, and it’s best to leave their walk until the ground has cooled down!

 

3. Keep them hydrated

Whether the sun is blazing or it’s just humid outside, one of the most important things to remember when exercising your pooch in the summer, is to ensure that they stay hydrated.

Always remember to take a travel water bowl with you on your walk and stop for regular breaks to give your pooch a drink.

 

4. Take it slow

You may be used to seeing your dog excitedly zoom around when they’re out on their walkies, but when the weather is warm they need to be encouraged to take it slow. Running will only make them warmer and put them at risk of heat stroke, so set a slow pace for your pooch to follow, and instead give them plenty of time to sniff out new scents.

A slow pace is particularly important for flat-faced dogs such as Pugs, Bulldogs or French Bulldogs, as they find it more difficult to breathe and have a harder time keeping themselves cool.

 

5. Find the shade

When the sun is blazing, think carefully about where you take your doggy for their walk and keep them out of the direct sun. Try to avoid open spaces such as fields, and if you can, find a natural path for your summer walks, or stick to the shaded side of the street.

6. Shorter walks

If it’s too hot for your pooch to go on their normal longer walk, there’s no harm in keeping their walkies short and sweet. By doing this, you can keep them close to home and return quickly if you spot any signs of overheating.

You can make up for their exercise by encouraging them to play in the cool indoor comfort of their own home. Toys, puzzles, safe ball games and training are great ways to keep your pup active!

 

7. Be mindful around water

It can be tempting to take your dog for a swim when the weather is hot, and while it can be a great exercise for your pooch, it’s crucial to keep water safety in mind.

You should always be extra careful around any body of water – whether that’s the sea, lakes, rivers, reservoirs or swimming pools – and remember to never push your dog to swim if they don’t want to. There’s plenty of other ways to keep your pup cool – not every dog is made to swim!

If you are taking your dog for a swim, make sure to pick a suitable place, such as a calm lake, a dog friendly beach, a slow moving river, or a private swimming pool.

Always make sure that their vaccines are up to date to avoid illness, and never let your dog swim in dangerous waters such as canals, reservoirs, fast flowing water or rough seas.

 

8. Look out for the signs of heatstroke

When exercising your dog in hot weather, it’s crucial to know the signs of heatstroke so you can act quickly. Heatstroke is a life-threatening emergency, so if you spot any of the signs below give first aid and call your vet immediately.

  • Breathing very heavily/unable to stop panting
  • Foaming at the mouth
  • Bright red gums 
  • Shaking
  • Struggling to breathe
  • Weakness and collapse
  • Confusion 
  • Vomiting and diarrhoea
  • Seizures

Remember that it’s always best to prevent overheating by taking careful steps to keep your dog cool.

Read our advice for walking your pooch in the countryside.

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