Exercising Your Dog in Summer

 Your four-legged friend jogs in a fur coat

Charleston is a wonderful location for pet owners, and dogs make great exercise companions for our trails and beaches, but now that we are in another Lowcountry summer, caution is indicated.   

Heat and humidity add to the workload for the heart, lungs, and cooling system of the body.  Dogs do not sweat like humans, so their body temperatures rise more quickly with exertion.  Panting and water consumption are their two most effective methods for keeping hyperthermia in check, and neither one is especially efficient.

Pavement can burn footpads

Dogs walked to our facility for appointments on cool, cloudy days often have body temperatures elevated as much as three degrees. Adding mid-day sunshine, high humidity, or a faster pace puts your pet at risk for serious health problems.  The best time to exercise your pet is before 10:00 AM or after 6:00 PM.

Just as you would condition yourself before tackling a six mile run, dogs need to start with shorter jaunts and build up to longer outings. Never force your pet to go farther than he wants, if he is stopping under every shade tree or lagging behind you, it is time to slow to a walk and head home to the air conditioning. 

Help for Heat Stress

If you think your pet is over-heating, wet the hair coat and allow your dog to drink fresh water and to rest in a cool place. Panting should begin to ease within a few minutes.  Bright red gums and weakness are signs your pet needs help from a veterinarian. 

Body temperatures over 108 degrees Fahrenheit can quickly cause permanent damage to the brain, bowel, and other vital structures. Once that high, the body is unable to get it back under control without medical intervention. 

Have fun in the sun safely

Not all dogs will let you know when they feel tired, so don’t depend on your canine companion to complain. Working breed dogs live to please their humans, and they’ll literally run, hunt, or retrieve themselves to death. Remember to exercise the responsibility that comes with pet ownership, as you exercise your buddy. He depends upon you.