Working out with your dog is good for both of you. You get the benefits of sunshine, fresh air and an exercise buddy that won't let you down. But summer can be hard on dogs, especially if you are not careful to take care of your four-legged friend. To keep your workout buddy in tip top shape, make sure you take the summer heat into consideration.
Here are some tips to help you and your dog keep working out all summer long.
Stay on the grass
Dog parks are ideal for getting some exercise with your dog. You can run and play fetch, and maybe even toss a Frisbee for your dog to catch. Best of all, your dog's feet will be safely planted on the cool grass while you exercise together. If you prefer to get your workout on the road, jogging or running, make sure and walk in areas where your dog can get up on the grass and off the asphalt or concrete. Summer heat can turn a road as hot as a frying pan. Even though your dog's feet are tougher than yours, the scorching surface of the road or sidewalk can do some serious damage.
Stop for a drink
Think about how often you reach for your water bottle during a run. It is important to stay hydrated, and it is just as important for your dog. Bring some extra water and make sure to stop several times during your workout to give your dog a drink. You can use a handy collapsible bowl available at pet stores or online, and just tuck it in a pocket while you jog.
Don't overdo it
I once saw a dog panting furiously as it ran as hard as it could to keep up with its owner who was riding a bike. The dog was leashed to the bike and had no choice but to keep running in the sweltering heat. Some high intensity workouts might be great for you and your dog in cooler weather, but when temperatures are soaring, you should keep a close eye on your dog and make sure you aren't overdoing it. According to the Reader's Digest, dogs suffering from these symptoms may be in danger of heat exhaustion: "excessive panting, difficulty breathing, increased heart and respiratory rate, drooling or stupor." Be aware of your dog's condition and take breaks if needed.
Plan shorter routes
If your dog runs into trouble in the middle of your workout, it could be tough to make it back home or to your car. Especially if your dog is heavy and you have to carry him. Dogs are tough, and while you aren't likely to have a lot of trouble, you are better off taking shorter routes on your bike, hike or run than heading out on long journeys in high heat. You can always turn around and head out again if the workout is too short, but finding yourself closer to home in case of a heat-related emergency is a good idea.
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Tavia worked as a naturalist and recreation specialist at an Oklahoma lake during her college years. She enjoys using what she learned as an outdoor educator in her work with children today.