Exercise and Overheating in Dogs

By Ashley Watson

thirsty-dog-2 No matter what breed of dog you have, your dog needs regular exercise. Some dogs need more exercise than others, but all dogs need some form of routine physical activity to stay healthy and curb common behavior problems. When the weather is nice, many dog owners take the opportunity to give their dogs as much outside play as possible. But how much is too much in the heat of the summer?

As the weather heats up in many parts of the country right now, especially in dry and hot climates, it’s important to pay attention to signs of dehydration and heat exhaustion. According to CNN, temperatures in Death Valley National Park reached 129 degrees on Sunday, just shy of the world record of 134 degrees set in July 1913 in Death Valley, CA. This kind of heat wave becomes especially dangerous for pets, especially dogs that need a lot of exercise.

Even if you don’t live in an extreme climate like the American West, making sure your dog stays cool as temperatures rise can help prevent a lot of health issues related to overheating. This week’s post will focus on tips for giving dogs the right amount of exercise while ensuring that they are not in any danger of heat exhaustion.

Exercise Your Dog During Cooler Parts of the Day

dog-overheating-3While you can’t control when your dog needs to use the bathroom, you can limit heavier exercise to the cooler times of the day. Early morning and evenings are the best times to exercise your dog, but if you must let your dog out during the middle of the day, don’t leave your dog unattended and minimize the time spent outdoors.

This may seem obvious to some people, but veterinarians report a surprising amount of heat exhaustion due to being exposed to extreme heat for long periods of time or burns from walking on hot asphalt. You can also buy special booties for dogs if you are going to be walking on pavement in, but keep in mind that your dog will need some time to adjust to these before going on longer excursions.

Make Sure Your Dog Stays Hydrated

Always give your dog extra water on hot days. Depending on the breed, you may have to encourage your dog to drink more than normal, especially bigger dogs or dogs with thick fur. Because dogs cool off by releasing heat through evaporating fluids from their nasal passages and tongue, dogs with flat faces, such as pugs and bulldogs, are at more of a risk of overheating. Make sure that you carry extra water with you on walks and some type of easy-to-carry container that your dog can easily drink from.

Provide Ways for Your Dog to Cool Off

dog-overheating-2If you are planning a jog or walk with your dog, try to plan a trip to a wooded area or a park with lots of shade. Some dog parks have kiddy pools for dogs to cool off in, so check your area for parks that provide these accommodations. Be mindful of cleanliness, but avoid swimming pools with harsh chemicals.

Swimming is just as good for your dog as a walk or run, so find areas where your dog can play in the water safely. Keep in mind that if your dog is already overheating, jumping into extremely cold water could do more harm to your dog. If possible, slowly submerge your dog in a pool or lake after heavy exercise or playing outside.

Know the Signs

Knowing how to recognize when your dog is overheating is perhaps the most important tip. Signs include trouble breathing, excessive panting, drooling, decreased energy or stamina, trouble walking or difficulty standing. There are more serious symptoms, but keeping an eye out for early signs can help you know when it’s time to get your dog to a cool area, or in extreme cases, to the vet’s office.

When your dog isn’t getting an early morning walk or using the bathroom, keep your dog inside in a cool part of the house or air-conditioned room. Never leave a dog in a hot car, even for a few minutes! Call your vet if you suspect your dog is overheating.

How do you make sure your dog gets enough exercise during the summer? Share your stories with us on Facebook.