Adventure dogs love coming along hikes with their owners but during the summer, when temperatures rise, some considerations for your four-legged friends are necessary.
The first one is tough but most dogs (depending on breed) cannot go hiking with you if temperatures are above 85 degrees. Relying on the saying “if you can handle the heat so can your dog” can put your them at risk for heat-related injuries. You gotta remember: human bodies cool off faster / more efficiently than dogs’ so really high temperatures put your dog in danger of overheating and dehydration.
That being said, dog-owners should consider scheduling their hikes for morning or evening time since temperatures are cooler and the ground may still be damp (this helps pups avoid burning their paw pads and stay cool!)
* Do some research though! Apparently everyone wants to come out to play at those cooler hours as well so watch out for wildlife and always keep friends by your side.
Another thing to plan ahead is your trail: those with water and shade work best for doggy hikes. Your pup will love being able to take a swim or jump into a pond or lake for a chance to cool down and perk up before continuing the hike. Try to get your dog wet every half a mile or so by letting them hop in a body of water or squirting water from a pack or bottle down their backs.
Once you’re done planning you need to get packing: You might want to take some food or treats and definitely lots of water (for both of you!) since you are burning calories. Offer your doggo a treat every 45 minutes or so. Consider carrying (or putting on first) wax-based paw pad balm on your friend’s paws to avoid cracks and add protection from rougher paths. Some owners like to use cooling vests to help with the hot weather and while they’re a good addition, they do not offer full protection for really high temperatures.
Lastly, watch out for signs of dehydration and/or heat stroke from your furry friend! It’s not just about keeping them comfortable but also healthy and happy. If you see any of these, it’s recommended your pet visits the veterinarian immediately:
- Excessive panting
- Dark red gums
- Rapid heartbeat
Call ahead to make sure your pet receives treatment right away and in the meantime you can apply cool (but not freezing) water to their bodies.
Also please take into account that:
- Dogs can get sunburn too! Especially very short-haired dogs or shaved dogs. Shaving your long-haired dog to “keep them cool” doesn’t really work like that. Dogs’ fur coats help them to regulate their body temperature and protect them from sunburn.
- Dogs dissipate heat through their paw pads and by panting so they take longer to cool down.
- Dogs with “flat faces” (like pugs, bulldogs, boxers, and shih tzus) can suffer the ill effects of heat stroke quicker and more severely than other breeds.
- Avoid pulling on your dog’s trachea since it can limit their ability to pant and cool down by opting for a harness instead of a collar.
When you’re able to do it the right way and ensure their safety and happiness along the way, having your furry friends along for your outdoor adventures is always a fun option.
Stay safe. Stay wild, my friends!