Sun’s out Tongues Out: 4 Things to Know about Taking your Dog on Adventures in Warm Weather
As spring rolls in across many parts of the country it brings with it warmer weather, longer days and sunshine! After a long, cold winter there’s no greater feeling than lacing up your adventure boots and hitting the hills with your four legged friend(s). Consider these 4 things when deciding where to go and what to bring on your next warm weather walk, run or hike.
In most states, tick season spans a majority of the year and dominates the months of March- November. Ticks are 8-legged crawlers that belong to the arachnid family. They are more closely related to spiders than insects, but most human insect repellents with high deet concentration also repel ticks. Spraying human insect repellent on our dogs is not a good idea. The repellents can contain harmful chemicals (yes, some are even harmful to humans too!) that are not beneficial to our dog’s health. Instead, try using a monthly topical like this one or a repellent collar like this one.
Why do we care so much about tick prevention? Ticks carry a multitude of diseases including lyme disease. If you or your pet gets bitten by a tick that is carrying lyme disease, there is a high risk of the disease affecting you or your pet. Lyme disease is an inflammatory disease that can cause joint pain, arthritis, neurological and cardiac disorders. Each year, 30,000 cases of human lyme disease are reported to the CDC. There is an unknown number of canine cases each year, but I think it’s safe to assume that the number is equal to or higher than the number of human cases. If you or your pet develop lyme disease, there is treatment and if caught early enough, lyme disease is curable!
In order to avoid tick infested areas, its important to understand how ticks find you or your pet. Ticks are the ultimate silent hunter. They place themselves on the edge of grasses and twigs and climb trees to wait at the end of branches. Ticks can sense you or your dog’s movement by the scent of breath, odor, shadows, heat, moisture and vibrations. Avoiding ticks is no easy task! Try going on hikes outside of thickly wooded areas and always do a tick check on yourself and your dog after a long walk or adventure. Tossing your clothes in the dryer on high for 10 minutes can kill any unspotted ticks and giving your pup a nice bath is a great way to wash away and ticks that haven’t bitten yet and help you do a thorough tick check.
2. Hot Pavement
As the temperature heats up, so do the roads. If it’s a warm day with the sun beating down, reach out and touch the pavement with your palm to see how hot it is. If it’s too hot for you to leave your hand on for 10 seconds or more, it’s too hot for your dog to take a walk on. If paved areas are your option for a nice long walk or run, try finding an area of the neighborhood with light colored cement sidewalks (the light color retains less heat) or search for an area with a grassy partition that your dog can stay on to avoid damaging their paws. Can’t find any of these options or want to be preventative and protective? Try some dog boots like these or paw wax like this to keep walk time pain free.
3. Water Supply
We never forget to keep ourselves hydrated when we’re exercising on a hot day and our dog’s need water too! Dog’s don’t have the ability to sweat. Instead, they release heat from their mouths, tongues and paws. When out for a long hike, walk or run in the spring and summer heat, give your dog frequent, quick water breaks. Bring a water bottle with an attached drinking cup like this one or try an easy to carry, collapsible bowl like this one. Quick and frequent water breaks ensure that your dog stays hydrated without over consuming water.
4. Tongue Patrol
Like we mentioned above, dog’s get rid of excess heat through their mouth and tongues. Keeping an eye on the size of your dog’s tongue is a great indicator of how hot they are. A very large, lolling tongue and a panting dog that can’t catch it’s breath could be a warning sign of heatstroke. Take your dog to a cool spot immediately, offer them some water and let them rest until their body temperature is under control. Heatstroke is no joke and if ignored, could cause death. Use the signs that your dog gives you to respect their fitness level and temperature. Just like us, dogs can be out of shape. If you want your dog to be your fitness partner put them on a training program and increase their distance in short increments until they are fit enough to keep up for the entire duration of your exercise routine.
Be a great P.E.T. parent and include your dog in your workout regiment as often as possible. Keep the distances and intensity short as your pet builds muscle to protect their health and keep them happy.