As anyone with a dog would know, they don’t care if it’s freezing cold or boiling hot outside. Happy, healthy dogs need exercise every day – not just for physical health but also as part of their mental stimulation. However, as the days heat up and the sun gets higher in the sky, it can be a challenge to give them the exercise they need in a way that keeps them safe.
When the temperature heats up
When the temperature heats up outside, the most important thing to remember is to avoid the more extreme heat whenever you can. If it’s going to be a really hot day, think about taking your dog for a walk before the sun gets too high in the sky or consider waiting until after sunset. Whatever you do, try to keep them out of the sun between 10am and 2pm when the sun is at its peak. Remember that hot pavements can burn paw pads. If you have a local beach or river bend, some dogs will enjoy a cooling splash, but keep an eye on them while they’re in the water – not every dog is the greatest of swimmers.
Providing access to fresh water
The next big thing to keep in mind is access to fresh, cool drinking water. On hot days a dog can lose a lot of water through sweating and panting so set up a bowl for them in a shady area that’s easy for them to access.
If you’re taking them to the park, bring along a bottle of water and small bowl. Of course, some dog-friendly parks have drinking taps for dogs already set up – just remember that on a hot day you might need to run the water for a bit until it’s cool enough to drink.
Being mindful of sunburn
Some dogs with fair skin or short coats may be predisposed to sunburn. If your dog is one of these, you may consider using a pet-specific sunscreen on them. Anywhere you see pink skin, including ears, nose, muzzle and even chest and belly give them a good covering. If their coat is particularly short or fair, consider giving them an all over spray (be very careful around the face and eyes – sunscreen stings!). There are also some Sunsmart coats out there that can block UV rays.
When exercising outside
When you are exercising outside with your dog on a hot day, keep an eye on how they’re doing. Watch for signs of overheating or heatstroke. Rapid breathing, a raised heart rate and high body temperature are all early signs that they may be too hot. In cases like this, try to cool them down with a good soaking of water and get them into a cool spot before more extreme symptoms present themselves. If your dog does take a turn for the worse, they should see a vet straight away.
Once they are exercising, remember not to overdo it. Some dogs can’t help themselves and will push themselves too far. It’s up to you to keep any outdoor sessions short on a hot day. They may not be too happy about it, but you can always make up for it by organising some indoor activities to keep them entertained – you could even run a training session to teach them a new trick or play a game with them.
We’ve teamed up with the trainers at Seeing Eye Dogs Australia to create some great dog training videos that can teach you some basics like sit, stay, and roll over. But if they’ve already mastered these fundamental instructions you could try a game like “hide and seek”. Get them to sit and stay in one room, then go and hide in another room before calling them. They will probably find you in a matter of seconds, but they’ll love the game and the mountains of praise you heap on them when they uncover your hiding spot.