A Helpful Guide To Walking Your Dog In The Summer
If you were asked to name the best time of the year, it would probably take less than a few seconds for the summertime to cross your mind. Even if summer isn’t your favourite time of year, there are so many great things that come with it. Besides warm weather, the longer days and more accessible areas of the countryside allow for some great opportunities to explore with your dog. As with winter there are many things you need to be aware of before taking your pooch on a long walk in the summer. This guide gives a detailed look at some of those things you should be thinking of when walking your dog in the summer.
What temperature is safe to walk a dog
This is a question that seems to crop up every summer and owners tend to think of it as specific number to follow. When walking your dog, you have to think about its own comfort and use common sense. A dog with a thick coat built for hiking in cold weather is going to struggle more than a dog with a thin coat…. it’s just common sense. I would probably avoid walking my dog in anything over 23 degrees Celsius, as pavements will be hot and without shade this temperature can be pretty deadly.
Smaller dogs will require less of a walk than medium and large sized dogs, so it is good to take them on a route which they know and are capable of doing with ease when the temperature is high. Temperatures change throughout the day so be aware that the temperature can increase during your walk and you could end up walking in some really intense heat especially if there is no wind.
How do you know if its too hot to walk your dog?
As highlighted above a temperature of 23 degrees Celsius or above will most likely be too hot for your pooch. If you’re not sure there are some simple tests you can do. Firstly, feel the surface they are going to be walking on, this will indicate if its too hot for their paws. Generally, if you can’t keep your hand on it for more than 5 seconds without sensing some pain then its too hot for them. Remember this test is not an “if I can take the pain my dog can” kind of test, be smart about it and feel the pavement from your dogs’ point of view. Another clear sign that it could be too hot is to have your dog out in the garden and if they are sitting and panting or trying to find shade then you must consider the possibility that it is too hot for your dog.
Best time to walk your dog in the summer
If you are able to pick and choose when walking your dog in the summer then you must consider taking them when the temperature is at its lowest. The morning or evenings are the best times to take your dog for a walk, with the morning being my favourite as it sets you up for the day. By walking your dog in the morning you can be ready to start your day whilst your furry friend won’t be bothering you all day to go out for a stroll.
Keeping your dog hydrated
There are so many ways to keep your dog hydrated so there is no excuse for not doing so. Your dog will always need water regardless of the current weather conditions. Making sure they stay hydrated is one of the most important things you can do as a dog owner and makes sure your dog stays healthy. A dog’s body is made up of around 70% water meaning that on a hot day they need to be consuming water throughout the day. When out walking ensure you keep stopping for a drink every 20 – 30 minutes just to ensure they are adequately hydrated.
If you want to test whether your dog is dehydrated then lift their skin up and drop it back onto their body. If the skin goes back onto the body slowly then your dog is probably in need of a drink. Other signs a dog is dehydrated are lethargic walking, panting or dry gums. If you spot any of these signs try and get your dog to some water ASAP. Something to remember when walking your dog in the summer is a water bowl. Some dogs wont drink from the bottle and let’s face it, you lose a lot of water doing it that way. Get a collapsible water bowl and pour some water into the bowl, topping it up if needed. This way you won’t waste water and your dog is probably more inclined to drink it.
Can dogs burn in the sun?
Not something that you would naturally think about when walking your dog in the summer. However, dogs can get burnt just as easily as humans, no matter how thick their fur is. Its more common for short haired dogs to get sunburned but dogs with thick light-coloured fur will burn too. Dogs most commonly burn around their face as this is where the most skin is visible and this area is also the most exposed.
There are a few ways to tell if your dog is sunburn as they won’t tell you themselves. Red skin is the most obvious sign of sunburn with cracked dry skin and curling at the ears being other signs. If you find your dog is less inclined to be stroked or they start scratching certain areas in pain then this will also be another sign of sunburn in a particular area.
Protecting your dog from sunburn doesn’t have to be complicated, its just as easy as protecting yourself. Although you will find some research suggesting that it is a good idea to apply human sunscreen to your dog this is not the case. Some human sunscreens contain chemicals like zinc oxide that can pose serious health risks to your dog and despite some child and baby sunscreens being safe for dogs its simply not worth the risk. There are plenty of pet approved sunscreens out there and these have been made safe for use on dogs There are also some natural pet sunscreens available if you wish to have a more natural product for your dog.
Where to take your dog during hot weather?
There will be times when you may need to take your dog out for a walk during hot weather. If you need to take them out, think about taking them somewhere where there is adequate shade or even a water source. Woodland areas provide a great place to take your dog for a walk and if there happens to be a river or stream running through them then your pooch will be perfectly happy there. If you are planning on encouraging your puppy to swim then check out our post on “What age to teach a puppy to swim”. Its always best on a hot day to take your dog to somewhere there is a water source like the beach, lake or river. Be sure to keep an eye on them though as on a hot day they may try to drink too much lake or river water and even sometimes sea water.
The beach can be a tempting place to take your dog on a hot day as they love the cold refreshing sea. Although this is OK be sure to re-apply the sunscreen when they come out the water if you are expecting to be there for a long period of time.
If you have a garden then this could be a great place to burn off some of that energy. Despite being out in the sunlight your dog has the option of coming back inside when they get too hot, they also have access to water. Try playing with your pooch in the garden and burn of some of that energy. Any outdoors play can be just as good as a lead walk, so long as you put some effort into it.
Dogs that struggle in the heat
All dogs struggle with heat when exposed for too long or given a lack of water. Some dogs cope slightly worse than others and as highlighted above lighter coloured dogs suffer more from sunburn. The main type of dog that copes the worst with the heat are Brachycephalic, this is due to their flat faced appearance. Because of the way their face and nose are formed they struggle to breathe when exposed in high temperatures. This type of dog also struggles with swimming so may not be so keen to get into the water and cool off. Despite highlighting this dog as the worst, every dog has its flaws when it comes to dealing with the heat. Longer haired dogs can’t dissipate heat from their bodies quickly due to their thick coat. Lighter haired dogs suffer from sunburn and darker haired dogs absorb more heat than lighter coloured ones.
This question does come up often but its best not to ask it as this may distract from keeping your dog safe in the summer no matter what breed.
Keeping a dog in your car during hot weather
DON’T!!…. this is one of the simplest scenarios, however every summer there always seems to be talk of people leaving their animals, dog or not inside their car. Stories of animals dying inside vehicles and people smashing windows to save them always seem to pop up in the news during summertime.
The temperature inside your vehicle can rise extremely quickly so even if it is 20 degrees Celsius outside your car temperature can soar to over 30 in a matter of minutes. For any owner thinking that they can just put the windows down a notch during warm weather should stay in that car for 10 minutes and find out just how hot it can get.
Leaving your dog inside a car during hot weather is a serious matter and the car window can be lawfully smashed if the dog is seen to be in danger. Its advised that if you see a dog in distress to call the police who will advise you on whether to break in or wait for them to break in. Its not only parked cars that dogs can become ill inside it is also cars on the move. Its understandable that you would have to travel on a hot day with your dog especially if you plan on walking your dog in the summer, you may need to travel further than your local area. Wherever you’re going it is a good idea to invest in some sunshades to protect your dog from direct sunlight and to have the windows down or air-conditioning on to keep the air inside the car cool. If you intend on taking a long journey taking lots of stops where your pooch can have a drink and stretch their legs is a good idea.
Heatstroke and how to prevent it
Careless ownership of a dog can lead to heatstroke, such as leaving them in a car during hot weather or not providing them with the right amount of hydration. Spotting heatstroke in your dog is fairly easy, as the signs will be things you would expect to happen. Signs like panting, lethargic movement, red gums, vomiting and most obviously collapsing. If you see any of these signs then you should provide your dog with adequate hydration and attempt to cool them down whilst contacting your vet. If you follow the information outlined in this guide you can prevent your dog from getting heatstroke.
Important points like hydration and walking them in cooler areas or at cooler times of day can be vital to protecting you dog during walks. Excessive exercise on a hot day can lead to heatstroke with working breeds being the most susceptible to this along with Brachycephalic breeds. No dog is perfectly adaptable to the heat and so you should take care whatever breed of dog you have. For more information on heatstroke in dogs then check out this article by PetMD.
Tips for keeping your dog cool in the summer
As highlighted above taking your dog for walks during cooler periods of the day can help massively in caring for your dog during the summer months. Some other tips on how to help your dog cool off during the summer are outlined below.
- Making doggy ice lollies is a great treat for your dog on a hot day, but even giving them plain ice cubes can help them to cool off a bit.
- Set up a shaded area in your garden so that they can go and sit outside in the shade.
- Place something on the floor that will be cool when your dog lies on it. You can get cooling mats that don’t heat up during the summer, these are particularly popular in hot countries.
- Make sure you fill their water bowl up fully. If its been sitting out for a while replace it with some fresh cold water.
- Leave a fan on or the air conditioning if you have it. Just moving the air around a room can help reduce the temperature of your dog.
- Playing in the water is something that most dogs love to do and it cools them down so well. Check out our post on “The Best Water Toys For Dogs”, if you plan on playing with your pal in the water.
Summer is a great time for walking your dog but it is also a time when your pooch can struggle so by following this guide you can help to make your pooch more comfortable. Remember if its too hot for you then its most likely too hot for your dog. Thank you for reading and if you would like to read more posts about dog walking and getting outdoors with your pooch then check out our website for more great posts.