Summertime, more than any other season, is the most popular choice for hiking and for all the right reasons. With the perfect amount of humidity in the air and a temperature that’s suited to strenuous activity, it does take the lead as the best time to go for an outdoor adventure.
However, if you’re planning to go hiking with a dog this time, then you may have to be wary of certain factors. For one, keeping your dog’s body temperature at bay has to be one of the most challenging tasks. In fact, according to the Washington State Animal Response Team (WASART), overheated dogs are among the most frequent cases they deal with.
The best way to prevent this problem from taking an ugly turn is to recognize certain warning signs and learn how to keep your dog cool when you’re hiking on a hot day.
How Can You Recognize a Heat Stroke?
If it were up to your dogs, they would keep running and playing forever. This is what makes detecting a problem even more difficult because your dog may not even display obvious symptoms until the condition gets severe. However, if the temperatures exceed 70 degrees Fahrenheit, you may want to put your hiking plans on hold.
Keep an eye on the following signs to determine whether your pet dog is going through a heat stroke:
- Extreme fatigue
- Extreme panting
- Thick saliva
- Rapid heart rate
- Pale or red tongue and gums
Remember, ignoring signs of a heat stroke can lead to severe consequences, such as seizures, cardiac arrest, coma and even death if not paid heed to or treated in time. Hence, the moment you notice any of the stated signs, stop hiking, take a breather, get your dog to drink some water and take them to the vet immediately.
Emergency Tips to Cool a Dog’s Body Temperature Down
If your dog’s body ends up getting overheated, you must intervene immediately. Keep in mind that you can go right and wrong in your approach, which is why you should be wary of the following:
Don’t Try to Cool Your Dog Down Too Quickly
Doing so can cause them to go into a state of shock. You should start by slowly applying water to their body. An even better way to do this would be to use a piece of cloth, soak it in water and place it over their head.
You can then slowly move it to their chest, belly, paws and groin. It doesn’t take them long to get back to their regular temperature, so don’t make the mistake of going too fast.
Have Them Drink Water
Again, you don’t have to push them too hard to drink water. However, you can still place a bowl full of water near them and prompt them to drink from it every few minutes. This way, you will be able to hydrate their body, reducing the effects of heatstroke even more.
Keep Them In Shade
If you notice even a minor symptom of a heatstroke, the first course of action would be to cool them down using water. However, at the same time, you should also look for a place with loads of shade and move them there.
Here, you can let them rest for a while before returning to your vehicle. Remember to take every step with caution. Going too fast or too slow with these tips can both be hazardous to your dog’s health.
Tips to Keep Your Dog’s Body Temperature Leveled on a Hot Day’s Hike
While the idea is to avoid going outdoors when the temperature is extremely high, it doesn’t necessarily mean that outdoor adventures are a complete no-go during hot weather.
All you have to do is change your approach to hiking and prepare well, and most importantly, keep the following tips in mind.
Don’t Hike In the Afternoon.
Since the sun’s radiation is at its peak at certain hours of the day, you may want to steer clear of it. Hence, hiking in the morning, especially before sunrise may be a better solution.
You may be wondering if it is the absence of the sun that you need, why not hike in the evening? Well, heat still radiates from the ground after the sun sets as compared to before it rises when the ground is relatively cooler.
Protect Their Paw Pads
Your dog’s paws are the most sensitive parts of their body, and walking on hot surfaces can cause them to heat up quickly. So, protecting them from sand, dirt trails, rocks, and other surfaces that radiate heat requires adequate coverage in the form of dog boots or paw wax.
Hike on Trails with Shade
While hiking on a hot day is quite a challenge, it is possible to minimize the impact of heat by opting for trails with plenty of shade. Hence, hike in areas with high elevation or those near a source of water, so the air is comparatively cooler.
Last but not least, make sure to learn everything about the hike before you head out. However, altitude sickness is also a prevalent condition among many dogs, so do your research before going to a high elevation spot.
Hydrate, Hydrate and Hydrate!
Carry enough water bottles for you and your dog. This is because, at the end of the day, body temperature regulation has more to do with protecting your dog from the inside than the outside. If their body is sufficiently hydrated, you can significantly reduce their chances of having a heat stroke.
The Bottom Line
Going hiking with your pet dog may be the best way to rejuvenate and strengthen your bond. However, without adequate knowledge and proper preparation, you may expose them to a range of issues, especially on a hot summer day’s hike. Hence, make sure to keep the stated tips at your fingertips at all times and protect your canine buddy safe in hot weather.