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Running with the dog

Run, Spot, Run! But, Be Careful in the Summer Heat!

See Spot run. Run, Spot, run!

Both running and walking is a great opportunity for you and your doggo to bond, as well as stimulate them physically and mentally. Plus, it’s great for you, too!

BUT WAIT?! Are you and your four-legged family member doing it right in the intense Texas heat? Is your pup ready to run the upcoming Fur Fun Run and the many other active lifestyle events in North Texas?

Heat stroke is not uncommon in the summer and, although you may associate it with pets left in hot cars, the truth is that it can occur if you’re not properly prepared while running and walking with your dog. In addition to heat stroke, pad abrasions can also happen when running and walking on the scorching concrete. We want to make sure those pups are out of harms way, all while keeping those adorable jellybean tootsies healthy.

Here are a few tips to make summer running and walking with your fur-ever best friend more enjoyable and safer:

  • Take your dog on a run and walk early in the morning or late in the day. Then, let them lounge in air-conditioned comfort to watch Animal Planet and Judge Judy while snacking on yummy dog biscuits during the heat of the day.
  • Dogs have fur! Hello?! They aren’t running around in tank tops and shorts like us. Remember that furbabies are going to get hot faster than you. Always warm up and cool down. This goes for both you and your dog. It will help to lessen the stress on the joints, too.
  • Keep the dog breed into consideration. Not all breeds are meant for running. For instance, snub-nosed dogs such as adorable boxers, Pekingese, Shih Tzus, bulldogs and pugs should not be running in the heat. They have poor panting mechanisms and can overheat quickly.
  • Bring enough water for you and your furry one to drink and cool off. You can also run near lawn sprinklers, water fountains or other water sources to help with the cooling off process. Be sure to take a collapsible bowl if your dog will not drink from your water bottle. Take frequent water breaks.
  • Your dog ain’t wearin’ no shoes! Make sure the paws are protected. Allow your dog to run on the grass, if possible. If the pavement or trail hurts your dog's paws, you can purchase booties, but give Spot ample time to get used to them since most dogs don't really like them.
  • Build up your dog's endurance gradually, the same way you would with your own workouts. Start with short sprints or shorter distances and increase the distance weekly.
  • Teach your dog to walk on a leash correctly before you start running. Don’t allow your dog to cross in front of you or pull excessively. Run with your dog in a harness instead of a collar since collars will put strain on your dog's neck and may cut off his or her airway.
  • Consider a combination of running and walking. This will give your dog a little break to cool down.

Watch for the warning signs! It's VERY important to give your dog a break if they are slowing down or panting heavily, are confused, acting sluggish and have very red gums and tongue. If this occurs, you need to get your dog water and help then cool down. You can use cool towels or spray water on your dog to help him or her cool off. Take them to your family vet or an emergency veterinary hospital like MedVet.

Thank you to MedVet for providing the below excellent heat stroke image. Feel free to copy, save and even put it on the fridge to remind you to keep your dog healthy and happy.

Happy running and walking!

Heat Stroke Safety for Dogs, courtesy of MedVet