Despite my pleading with my husband for the last 15 years, I don’t have a dog. I’d love to have a dog, not only to play fetch with in the backyard but to take with me on runs, too. But knowing how hot I get on summer runs, I feel extra concerned for the dogs I do see out with their owners.
If you run with your dog, please remember that dogs are susceptible to heat stroke. Your dog’s cooling system is much less efficient than yours. Panting is the only way Fido can cool down, so ditch the headphones so you can listen to your dog’s breathing while you run. If your dog is breathing hard, it’s time to take a rest.
Panting is Fido’s way of cooling off, but it’s a dehydrating process. Be sure your dog has water available all day, including while you run with him. Carrying a water bottle to squirt for your dog is a simple way to help keep Fido cool. Many water fountains along public running trails have low-to-the-ground spigots for dogs as well.
Walking/running in the cool of the early morning or evening helps, but also watch for high humidity as it makes cooling from evaporation more difficult. Also, using rubbing alcohol on the pads of a dogs feet, the inner thighs/belly and along the inside flap of their ear (anywhere the alcohol can make contact with skin, not fur) immediately cools a dogs internal body temperature, especially cooling the blood that enters the brain (the reason for applying to the skin of the ears). Avoid dunking your dog in water, as it could send Fido into a different dangerous situation.
Chances are if you’re dripping with sweat, your dog needs a little extra attention. If Fido stops during a workout, you need to pay attention. It’s better for you to change from a run to walking or have a break in your workout than have your pooch suffer.
Here’s hoping you and your dog have lots of good miles together!
Thanks to my neighbors in Austin for starting the discussion of running with dogs in the summer on our neighborhood listserv. It’s an important topic that bears a wider audience.