The dog days of summer are upon us, and most of us humans are struggling to keep up with the heat ourselves. But what about man’s illustrious best friend? We’ve discussed the benefits of canine bodyguards this week, but are we doing everything we can to make sure that our pups are staying safe in the heat of the summer months? Read on, Salty runners, for our five top tips for keeping the canine love of your life safe, happy and cool during these hot summer months.
1. ID Your Pup. Most runners wouldn’t think of leaving on a run in 90+ degree heat without their Road ID or similar identification. If you would, I suggest you look into some form of runner ID. Today’s IDs are inexpensive and can be worn anywhere from the shoe to the wrist to the neck, and they can save your life. The same is true for your dog. From the moment you open the door in the morning to the moment pup turns in for the night, make certain dog’s ID tags are on. Even if you are home. All it takes to lose your precious best friend is one visitor. One little kid. One electric or cable company employee.
Consider the case of “Cass,” otherwise known as “Jersey.” Found last week along a local trail, Cass was an adorable little Jack Russell/spaniel mix, as lost as they came. He captured our hearts from the moment we saw him, and without a collar, we didn’t know where to take him. We simply couldn’t believe someone had abandoned this sweet little guy, and he seemed healthy and well-fed. With our own pets at home, we couldn’t take Cass in without knowing if he had worms or other doggie diseases. We drove around the neighborhoods by the trail but saw no signs or distraught people. Cass was a little dog lost, and his great big adventure got really sad from there: he had to spend a night at the shelter. Boo.
A happy ending was on its way. The lost dog’s real name was “Jersey,” and his family was at the shelter first thing in the morning the next day to see if anyone had brought him in. He had escaped from the yard when someone doing a meter reading for the electric company left the gate open; he wasn’t wearing his collar because his people were “home.”
Moral of the story: help keep your dog from having a scary sleepover at the shelter, and collar up every single day.
2. Water is life. If you wouldn’t leave the house without a water bottle, your dog shouldn’t have to either. Designate a special water bottle for Fido, and take it with you on your daily walk or run. Make sure your dog is hydrating throughout the run, and remember: they can’t communicate quite the same way if they start feeling yucky, so pay attention to their tongues for swelling and their breathing patterns. When you return from your walk or run, consider putting some ice cubes in dog’s water bowl: cold water is absorbed more quickly by the body, and dog will appreciate the extra refreshment.
3. Consider the time of day you take your dog out. Just as most of us humans try to schedule our summer runs for early morning or later in the evening, dog will appreciate some consideration in when his walk or run takes place. Remember, your dog is not training for Badwater or any other late summer race – there is no need to subject him to heat training. Wake up to a beautiful summer day with an early morning walk, or wind down with an after dinner walk. Your dog is sure to appreciate it – and you might even develop a nice new routine!
4. Take your dog off-road for a change of pace. It’s not just the air that’s heating up; the pavement and roads get pretty toasty too, and dog doesn’t have the benefit of shoes. Now is the perfect time to take dog to the park for a run or some catch in a big grassy field, or maybe even to introduce dog to some trails. He’s sure to love all the new smells and the water crossings, and the cooler ground will give dog’s “dogs” a break from the hot pavement.
5. Walk or rest breaks are always okay. Does dog seem especially sluggish or petered out? Is his tongue extremely swollen and hanging all the way to the ground? Just as your friends, families and running partners warn you to take of yourself when it’s especially warm out, make sure you’re aware of dog’s condition too. There’s no shame in taking a walk break if you’re running, or even finding a nice patch of shade or a cool tree to rest on. DB and I stopped under a beautiful tree with Sunday on a weekend afternoon a few weeks ago, and not only did we all get to cool off and recover, we also got to watch all the guests arriving for a wedding at the church around the corner! It was the perfect family afternoon – and Sunday got rested and revived enough for post-walk catch!
What about you, Salty runners? Tell us about your canine friends – and how you keep them cool as cucumbers in the summer heat!
Today’s Friday 5 was written in honor of Cass, and is dedicated to my best friend, Sunday the three-legged wonder dog. I love you guys!