Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Summer Dog Walks:
Keeping Your Dog Cool

by Carrie Boyko, CEB

© Carrie Boyko
Wet Dogs Stay Cooler on the Walk
Keeping Fido cool during your Summer dog walks may seem an impossibility if you have a particularly thick-coated dog. I have a few tricks up my sleeve I'd like to share, so you can assure that your walks don't end in a pup with heat exhaustion.

Before you head out, always offer a fresh bowl of water and encourage good long drink. Repeat this when you return home.

When our walk timing is out of my control, I occasionally have to bite the bullet and take an afternoon walk. Here in Florida that's a sweaty proposition that I don't relish. But Tanner doesn't mind a bit if he gets a quick swim in first and heads off on the walk soaking wet. This can work equally as well with a quick hosing off; it's just not nearly as much fun. The process of evaporation helps to keep him cool while I'm the one doing all the complaining. Maybe I should have jumped in too?

There are other ways. Soft ice packs are my favorite tip. You can pick these up at most any drug store and when frozen, they can be rolled up in a bandana which conforms to the shape of Rover's neck to help him lower his body temperature while out on the walk.

You may be asking how I manage this for Oliver, my 10-lb. Papillon. I've saved some teenie-tiny little ice packs from when my kids got their wisdom teeth out. These work perfectly for this pint-sized pup, wrapping in the neck roll of the bandana and having the same cooling effect. The boys enjoy this technique and seem to appreciate the comfort it adds to their outdoor time.
© A. Boyko

Biking is another way to lessen the possibility of overheating. Sound strange? Not really. When you're biking or jogging there's a bit more of a breeze. This helps your natural perspiration to evaporate faster, allowing the body to cool itelf the way nature intended. And there's another perk to this technique. You and Fido both will get your exercise session in much faster when you're moving at a faster pace. We find Summer to be our favorite time to bike for this very reason.

We recently got a Springer biking attachment and are currently testing it. Tanner and Oliver have both done well with this new contraption that allows me to keep 2 hands on the handlebars. It's a great solution for better safety and I look forward to bringing you a review soon.

© Carrie Boyko
Headed for a Beach Party!
Choosing morning or evening walks works best for us during the warm months of the year, which is most of them here. Those of you who live in the North may have to flip this strategy and shoot for sunny afternoons in the Winter chill. I can't even imagine the challenges of all that clothing for a dog walk. 

Living on a lake, our neighborhood has a beach area for recreational fun. If you're lucky enough to live near, or are able to walk to, a swimming area for Fido, this is another great solution. Stop part way and take a dip.

Let's wrap this idea session up with a final thought. Tanner sometimes has those "extra energy" spurts that tell me he needs a little more focus on his walk today. My solution for that is often the backpack. When I place the bags of beans or rice in the pockets, he concentrates more on keeping his pace and body movements steady and straight so his cargo doesn't start to swing. It's a mental job that works well for dogs who are a handful on the walk.

© A. Boyko
Tanner's Handy Backpack
 Holds Water for Both of Us
Fast forward to nearly age 5 and Tanner doesn't have this problem nearly as often. However, we still find that the backpack is a great way to carry our water and some ice packs or frozen water bottles, to keep him cool and assure that we can have a drink on the way. It's perfect for hiking or long walks.

Have you got ideas you'd like to share? I would enjoy telling our readers about new methods for keeping our pups cool. Leave a comment or drop me an email at LetsAdoptaDogPark@gmail.com. I'd love to warm up to some new ideas for staying cool in the summer. 


buttersthelilyorkiepoo said...

The ice packs are a GREAT tip, thanks for this post! Super helpful!

Jess @ Instyledog said...

Thanks for the ideas, Carrie! My boyfriend likes to walk his pups just after a bath ... keeps them cooler and helps them dry out faster, so they don't ruin the furniture with their wet little bodies! :)

Boondocks and The Love Shack Pack said...

Thanks for these tips. The heat index here is still over 100 in the evenings and mom ain't a morning person. So we haven't been getting our walks in as much as we like. Hopefully we can get mom to put some of these in practice, get off her bum, and walk us more!!!

Boondocks and The Love Shack Pack

K-Koira said...

These are some good tips. The one thing I would add though is to NEVER put a wet dog into a plastic crate on a hot day. The water in their coat can create sauna-like atmosphere inside the crate, which obviously can be seriously dangerous for the dog.

Alfie from Alfie's Blog said...

I love the tips about swimming to keep cool (which is something I do almost very day anyway- I love a game of fetch in the lake!) and also quite like the idea of the ice packs - I'd like to have my own little 'rucksack' when I'm old enough to carry weight around. My human had a longhaired german shepherd before she bought me, and although he loved to go swimming as well, she couldn't let him do that on the hottest summer days. His coat was so thick that the water couldn't evaporate and escape quick enough and actually ended up 'burning' his skin, creating a nasty heat rash that would continue to spread until the vet shaved the area to cool him down. It was very painful apparently. I'm not sure if that is something all long haired dogs need to watch out for or if he had particularly sensitive skin, but could be worth thinking about anyway :-)

Hawk aka BrownDog said...

Hi Y'all,

Yep, in the mountains we try to walk near a creek where I can go in and wet my feet...I like the idea of a back pack full of ice packs. :) Think I suggest that to my Human.

Y'all come by now,
Hawk aka BrownDog

Assistant said...

Great tips, thanks! It's been 100degrees every day this past week so if I do not wake up at 6am for a walk, our big black lab just gets so hot and miserable. Occasionally I'll get a small wet towel and take it with me. It's not too heavy so I can put it on him during the walk for a bit to cool him down until we get home.

Good idea to walk them after a bath or swim somewhere.


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