At the ballpark? Good.
On a run? Not so much!
Whether you’re a novice runner, training for a road race, or a veteran running coach, sometimes the best running companion is your dog. To those of us with four-legged running partners, we know you both enjoy the cardio bliss and runners’ high and the extra time spent bonding with your furry companion.
But now that we’re in the midst of the “dog days of summer,” it’s very important to take the heat into serious consideration before heading out for that multi-mile run with the dog. True, animals have been known to survive through all types of climates, and your trusted friend wants nothing more than to be by your side whenever possible – but excess exposure to heat and humidity can be dangerous to dogs, if not fatal.
Running with Hot Dogs – Case in point: A 2006 study published in a veterinary journal examined the medical records of 54 dogs admitted to a veterinary hospital for heat stroke.1 The majority of dogs were brought in during June, July and August, and 63% of them had engaged in strenuous exercise before the incident. Though the median exercise time was 58 minutes, some dogs had only exerted themselves for as little as six minutes. These were young, healthy dogs in this study; the median age was 3 years old.
Put yourself in your pup’s place for a moment. You’re covered in fur, you walk barefoot, and the main way you cool off is by panting.
Woof! That’s no walk in the park, proverbially speaking.
- Try running on grass or a dirt trail in a park covered in trees versus pavement where there is no shade. It’s softer on your knees, cooler, and it will give your dog’s paws some relief.
- Or, you can run at the beach where they allow dogs. Your dog can stay cool by keeping wet and running in the sand is a great workout for you. You can both cool off by taking a swim after!
- Make sure you both hydrate! Give your running buddy 10 seconds to lap up water every time you take a drink. The extra time will help your dog avoid bloat – a dangerous condition that occurs when they take in too much air as they lap water too quickly. Longer haired dogs need twice as many water breaks as their owners.
- If your dog has a small muzzle, take a short walk instead. Dogs with shorter muzzles have harder time breathing and won’t be able to cool down in hot weather. Leave your canine home when you go back out and run, but do it in the evening so you don’t overheat either.
- Listen to your pooch’s panting. If it suddenly increases during your run, stop running and find shade. Check your dog’s gums for a change in color – if they are white, it may indicate heat exhaustion, red may be a sign of heat stroke. In either case, take your dog to the animal hospital or your vet ASAP.
- If your dog is showing signs of excessive heat, be very wary of jumping into cold water, like a lake or pool, or giving them too much cold water. Sudden, rapid cooling can constrict blood vessels and cause organ failure.
- Be careful of overexposure to the sun. Even your dog can get sunburned in sensitive areas like their nose, so make sure you and your dog have sunscreen on for protection.
- And remember: make sure your pooch is at least a year old before you put them through a grueling run. Your puppy is still growing and developing up to at least one year of age, and excessive running for long periods can lead to major problems with their knees and hips later on. Same goes for you – if you don’t gradually build up your muscles in your lower legs, you could be sidelined with shin splints, ankle problems and knee issues. You certainly don’t want your training interrupted with injuries, so make sure you build up all the muscles in your lower legs with ShinTekk!
Bottom line: Pay extra attention to your four-legged running partner as well as yourself during the summer months and you’ll have plenty more seasons to share a run or workout together!
1 Running and Hot Weather: A Dangerous Combination for Dogs, By Dr. Mary Fuller, DVM www.vetstreet.com