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Six top tips to remember when walking your dog this summer

Six top tips to remember when walking your dog this summer

As the warm weather arrives and the days get longer, it can be tempting to make the most of the sunshine by spending more time outside – especially with our four-legged companions. Walking has so many wonderful benefits for both you and your dog, and our friends over at Battersea have shared some of their top tips on how you can keep your dog safe during your summer strolls.

Watch out for signs of heatstroke

When planning a walk with your dog in the summer months, it’s important to consider the weather and remain vigilant of your dog’s wellbeing. Dogs are more susceptible to overheating when it’s hot because they can’t regulate their body temperature as easily as humans can. This puts them at a greater risk of developing heatstroke which can be fatal. Some of the signs to look out for include:

  • Heavy panting
  • Glazed eyes
  • A rapid pulse
  • Excessive drooling
  • Lack of coordination, or confusion
  • Vomiting or diarrhoea
  • Loss of consciousness

If you’re travelling in the car to get to your designated walking location, it’s important to make sure the vehicle is fully air-conditioned throughout to keep your dog cool. Never leave them in the car alone, even if you’re parked in the shade. The temperature of the vehicle can get even hotter on the inside and this can easily cause heatstroke.

Keep your dog hydrated and cool

Dogs maintain their body temperature by panting, so it’s important that you take plenty of clean, fresh water with you to keep them hydrated when out on a walk. It’s always a good idea to take a spare water bowl with you if your dog is particular about the way they drink. Your dog may walk slower than usual if they’re hot, so allow them to conserve their energy if they need to. It’s also handy to take a spare towel with you so that you can soak it in cold water and use this as a cooling mat for your dog to lie on if they need to take a break during the walk.

Choose your walking time wisely

If you can, try to plan your walk during the cooler hours of the day to combat the high temperatures. We strongly recommend not walking your dog between the hours of 12pm and 3pm, as this is usually the hottest part of the day. Instead, we advise on walking your dog early in the mornings (before 9am) or later in the evenings (after 6pm). That way, you won’t have to worry about your dog overheating during the cooler hours.

Be mindful that pavements and roads can get very hot, and this will be painful for your dog’s paws. Before walking your dog, always check to see how hot the ground is by using the palm of your hand. It may be safer to walk in the shade and away from direct sunlight. Again, it’s easier to do this during the cooler hours of the day.

Keep a close eye on your dog’s health

During the summer, it’s important your dog maintains a healthy weight and stays active. However, be mindful that the heat can really bother them. If your dog is panting excessively, or if they’re looking for a shaded area to cool down, take that as a sign that they’ve had enough exercise for the day. A regular health check at your local vets is a good way of ensuring your dog doesn’t have any underlying mobility or respiratory issues, which can affect their level of physical activity. It’s also a good idea to keep your dog’s coat well-groomed during the hotter months as this will help to keep them cool.

Be considerate of other dog walkers

It’s important to be mindful of other dog walkers by being aware of the space around you. Remember that not all dogs like being approached. Therefore, if you do come face to face with another dog walker, always ask them if it’s ok to approach their dog. Try not to anticipate any stress by gripping too tightly on your lead as this can accelerate your dog’s anxiety in this situation.

If you have an anxious dog, try to minimise the number of interactions with other dog walkers. A good way of doing this is by walking your dog at less busy times in the day. Alternatively, you could consider using a muzzle as this acts as a visual aid to indicate to other dog walkers that they should give your dog some extra space.

Build your dog’s confidence around strangers on walks

If you’re looking to build your dog’s confidence around strangers when out on a walk, it’s worth keeping a diary to track and identify any patterns or behaviours that could be triggering them. You may find that your dog is fine when another dog walker keeps their distance, but not ok when their personal space has been disturbed. If this is the case, try to work on changing the emotion your dog feels when they see someone new. As you walk, pay attention to your dog when they notice another dog walker. Make use of a marker word such as ‘yes’ or ‘good’ and reward them with a treat. This will help encourage your dog to build a positive association with strangers when out on a walk.

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