Home E Seasonal E This Summer, Here’s How To Keep Your Dog Cool During Exercise

This Summer, Here’s How To Keep Your Dog Cool During Exercise

legacy-elisa-kennemer-jt-d0vvruua-unsplash

By Kayla Fratt

As heat waves roll across the United States, it can be difficult to keep active dogs comfortable. It’s incredibly important to continue meeting your dog’s exercise and enrichment needs even during hot summer days. 

At the same time, dogs struggle with heat more than people. That’s because dogs don’t sweat (except through their paws). They can only really cool off via panting, which is physically demanding and is difficult for the dog to do effectively while still running. Heat stroke can be life-threatening, so it’s incredibly important to keep your dog cool during exercise.

Here are a few tips for keeping your dog cool during exercise:

Exercise at appropriate times.

With temperatures in the 90s and 100s this week in Montana, I’ve been careful to only exercise my dogs in the early mornings. In mountain and desert environments, exercising early in the morning can make a huge temperature difference. Even in humid environments, exercising early is going to be cooler than exercising after work. Set that early alarm!

>
Exercising early in the morning can make a huge temperature difference.

legacy-emily-rusch-maexiduxqv8-unsplash

Consider exercise locations.

It may seem obvious, but hot summer days are not the time for parking lot obedience drills! Find shady trails, riverine walkways or even lakes to swim in. Here are some dog water safety tips. Even if your dog doesn’t like swimming, simply walking in a ravine near water will keep you much cooler than hitting a trail that snakes along a ridgeline. Shade and water access are your best friends! 

>
Find shady trails, riverine walkways or even lakes to swim in.

legacy-jamie-street-rbp8uqdl9b8-unsplash

Change up your activity.

If your dog enjoys swimming, that’s a great option in the heat. If not, or if you simply can’t find a cool enough location nearby, consider working on indoor workouts with your dog. Simply working on sit-down-stand repetitions while your dog is standing on a couch cushion is a huge workout! Pair that with having your dog search for hidden treats in the house, and you’ll have a mentally and phyically tired pup without any heat stress.

>
Simply working on sit-down-stand repetitions while your dog is standing on a couch cushion is a huge workout!

Know the signs of heat stress.

Heat stress can be very dangerous and can strike quite quickly for our dogs. Watch for huge, lolling tongues that are shaped like lollipops. This “spatula tongue” is a telltale sign of a hot dog! Your dog might also pant with a wide open mouth. It’s best to watch carefully and intervene early, rather than waiting for more serious signs like pale gums, wide eyes, refusal to move, or even vomiting and lethargy. Cool your dog down by stopping activity, moving them somewhere cool, and dousing their ears, belly, paws and other areas with water. If your dog seems distressed or extremely hot, go to the vet.

>
Watch for huge, lolling tongues that are shaped like lollipops. This “spatula tongue” is a telltale sign of a hot dog!

legacy-colin-davis-ztd_wol4cxa-unsplash

Utilize cooling gear.

If you’ve ever used a cool bandana to stay comfortable on a hot day, you know that this gear can be incredibly helpful but often short-lived. The same is true for cooling vets, mats and other gadgets for your dog. While cooling vests can help, they take a lot of water to stay cool. On a recent hike with my two dogs in their vests, I used three liters of water in just one mile to keep us all cool and hydrated. If the vests aren’t kept wet, they don’t provide much cooling effect. It’s generally more effective to plan your activity, time, and location carefully than it is to use expensive gear.

>
It’s generally more effective to plan your activity, time, and location carefully than it is to use expensive gear.

How do you and your dogs stay cool and safe in the summer? What are your favorite spots for beating the heat locally? We’d love to hear in the comments!


Kayla Fratt is a Certified Dog Behavior Consultant and the owner of Journey Dog Training. She’s passionate about helping owners prevent and treat behavior problems in their pets. She also works as a conservation detection dog trainer with her border collies in Missoula, Montana. She’s an avid runner, cross-country skier and a budding agility competitor.

legacy-300x250-watch-tv
Shop Dog Whisperer Products