By Leslie Ingraham
Published: 08/04/2021, edited: 09/14/2022
For many, a job with animals is the ultimate in desirable, fun work. Animal-lovers like nothing more than to become Wag! Pet Caregivers who exercise pups when their Pup Parents can’t. But sometimes it’s not all fun and games. When it comes to weather, a little planning goes a long way to keeping yourself and your charge comfortable. In winter, adding layers and hats can reduce the icy cold. Summer can be harder to endure because heat seems more difficult to escape from.
Heat is not only uncomfortable, but it can be downright dangerous! Overheating is a problem faced by anyone, or any doggo, who works or plays outdoors in summer. Dehydration can make it worse, and can lead to organ failure and death. Here are some tips that can help you and your pup stay cool on hot days.
Try to plan your walks along the ocean, a lake or river where the puppers can go to cool off, and you have a source of water to splash on your face. Water bodies are also perfect for wetting a handkerchief or bandanna that you can then wrap around your neck, or a small towel to cool the fur-baby’s tummy and paws. Dogs’ paws are essential for keeping them cool, and the cooler you can keep their pads, the cooler the doggo will be. And always keep an eye on how much contact the doggo’s paws are having with hot concrete, asphalt and sand.
These spots on your body have blood vessels that are close to the surface of the skin, and applying a cold rag or compress to them sends cooling blood to the rest of your body. They include:
Plan your walk with Fido to include lots of shade. Hot summer days are not the time to climb steep, treeless trails or trudge through unshaded fields. You and your dog-walking fur-buddy might feel better in a park with trees, a fountain and some benches under the branches. This is the pawrfect time to take a few sips of your water and give some to the pup as well.
Cotton is breathable and dries quickly. T-shirts are both comfortable and stylish, and you can throw a few into the car on a hot day for quick change between walkies. There are also clothes specially made to wick away hot sweat.
Carry a back- or fanny-pack, or a shoulder bag with ice and bring along some frozen treats for you and the fur-baby. Popsicles (fruit for you and frozen chicken broth for Fido) could go a long way to cooling off one’s insides. Be sure to take frequent breaks to enjoy your goodies and rest a few minutes.
On a really hot day, it may be tempting to wear flip-flops to keep your feet cool. Not only do flip flops provide you with no support, but they also expose your feet to dirt, bugs, and sun. But running shoes or hikers can be heavy and hot. In the heat of summer, sneakers with flexible soles will protect you from the sidewalk or road’s heat, while providing support and protection against pebbles and other road hazards. If they’re lightweight, they won’t make your feet hotter, and wearing socks will absorb any sweat your feet are producing. For pupsters, pad wax or doggy boots work well, too!
In the summer, the hottest part of the day is between the hours of 10 and 4. That’s why siestas are a mid-day treat in some countries! If possible, try to schedule walks outside those hours, at least during heat wave days. Or return a little early and stay with the pup in the AC or in front of a fan for a few minutes so you can cool off and make sure they’re okay.
Fans work by blowing across the surface of your skin and help produce condensation of moisture (sweat). Condensation cools as it dries, and your skin will feel cooler, too. Even when the air feels hot, the process works. Add a cooling mist and you’ll be even cooler! Did you know there are fans that you can wear on a strap around your neck? Or fans attached to a bottle of water you can spritz on your face as you walk?
There is no substitute for water for keeping cool and hydrated. Dehydration leaves us vulnerable to overheating or heat shock. When you spend your days walking pups, you sweat a ton of water and soon your cells will cry out for it in the form of headaches, muscle weakness and disorientation. Never take a dog walking in the summer without ample supplies of water for both of you. Seven to ten ounces of water every 20 minutes is recommended by fitness authorities for humans, although the amount varies with age, physical condition and weather. On a hot summer day it's better to carry too much than too little.
Pet Caregivers are a dog’s lifeline to outdoor exercise when their Pup Parent is gone for the day or for just a few hours. Daily brisk walks aren’t only for the spring and fall. If you live and work in an area that gets hotter than hot, keep these few tips in mind for safe and happy walks with pooches of all kinds. Happy walking!
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