Walking your pooch is a great way for you to keep fit – but what about them? Depending on your dog’s level of fitness, age and temperament, it can do more harm than good.
As a general rule of thumb, exercising when it’s cooler in the day is best for all types of dogs.
We spoke to leading RSPCA vets who gave us a breakdown of what to be mindful of when walking your dog, from hot roads (poor paws!) to dehydration…
How old is your dog?
- Puppies, from birth to around five months old, are still growing all of their bones. Limit their walks to a short walk around the block or run around the park
- Always make sure your puppy is fully vaccinated prior to allowing them to walk outdoors
What kind of dog is it?
- Flat-nosed dogs are more susceptible to heat stress (think English Bulldogs)
- Dogs with thick and/or long coats are more inclined to feel the heat than those with short hair (think Malamute vs. Doberman)
- If your dog’s on the rounder side, slowly introduce them to exercise, ensuring you stick to short distances initially and build from there
What’s your dog’s temperament and level of fitness?
- No matter what breed, always try to keep your dog calm when out on walks!
- If you notice any lameness or limping in your pooch, you should visit a vet. They are showing you signs that something is hurting and you must seek veterinary assistance
- Arthritis can be a common problem for older dogs; walks should be kept very controlled for dogs suffering from it
What’s the temperature outside like?
- Try and keep walks to the cooler times of the day
- Always ensure your dog has fresh water available around the home straight after coming home from the walk
- Heat stress can become a problem while you are out on a walk. Signs to look out for are excessive panting and drooling. If you notice your dog is becoming heat stressed, find a shaded spot to rest and if you can, splash some water under your dog’s armpits and around the groin area
Where are you walking your dog?
- Consider the surface you are walking your dogs on. Some may be rougher than others
- Some surfaces heat up from the sun during the day (i.e. bitumen) and as humans wearing shoes, we don’t always think about the temperature of the surface under a dog’s sensitive paws. If they start skipping or hoping along or are dragging you to get off the surface, it’s safe to say it’s too hot for them and any longer on that surface will burn their paws!
Finally, if you’re preparing for the upcoming Million Paws Walk (as we are!) focus on leash training, so your dog’s focus is always on you when in a busy crowd.