Springtime fun for your outdoorsy pup
Spring is here and things are warming up outside, which means there are many more opportunities for outdoor fun! Long walks, hiking trails, play groups, swimming… It gets my tail wagging just thinking about it! As with any activity that you participate in with your pup, there are tips to remember when heading into the great outdoors to keep you both safe and happy.
- Let your dog carry his own weight. If you have a dog that doesn’t tire easily, get him a dog backpack to help boost his workout a little. Keep in mind that if you just slap the bag on, throw in some weights, and head out for your walk, Sparky might not be too keen the next time he sees the pack come out. The key is to make it fun. Put the pack on empty the first time and let your dog walk around in it while you offer him treats. The next time keep it on a little longer. Once he seems like he’s tolerating it, try it with a couple of water bottles in it to add some weight. As soon as he’s comfortable with it, try going for a walk with it on. The extra weight should help to tire him out faster so he’ll get more out of your walk.
- Help your dog to play nice with others. When the weather gets warmer the number of dog bites and dog fights increase due to the number of outdoor activities available to people, dogs, and dog owners. Keep this increased number in mind if you bring your dog to a location where there is the potential for other dogs. Be sure you always ask the owner before initiating contact with a new dog. If the owner is nowhere to be found, avoid any contact with the dog as best you can. Dog parks tend to be more crowded as well, which can sometimes lead to stress and aggressive behavior. Evaluate the situation and pay attention to your pup. If he seems stressed at all, a nice long walk alone with you may be a better option that day.
- Is it hot enough for you? We all know that dogs need exercise for both their mental and physical well-being and that a tired dog is a happy dog is a well behaved dog. However, you do need to exercise some caution once the summer temperatures get here, particularly if your dog is older, short-nosed, or has a thick coat. During those dog days of summer, try exercising your pet early in the morning or late in the evening when things have cooled down. Remember that asphalt can get very hot and can burn your dog’s paws. If it’s too hot for you to stand barefoot on it, you shouldn’t let your dog stand on it for very long either.
- Learn to recognize heat stress. Heat stress is a serious medical condition that can lead to other issues such as stroke, brain damage, or even death. It’s important to learn to recognize the signs that your dog may be suffering. Remember that dogs can’t sweat the way we do. They regulate their temperature by panting and are much more susceptible to overheating than we are. Signs of heat stress include heavy panting, glazed eyes, rapid pulse, unsteadiness, staggering gait, vomiting, or a deep red/purple tongue. If your dog is exhibiting any of these symptoms you should apply cool (not cold) water gradually to your dog to decrease his temperature. Make sure to move them to a cooler, shady location and remember that dogs cool themselves from the bottom up, so using cold ice packs and applying them to your dog’s head, neck, and chest will help.
- Cowabunga! Most dogs love to swim, but some just can’t do it and others just don’t want to. If you’re going swimming be conscious of your dog’s preferences and skills before making him swim. If you’re swimming for the first time with your dog, start off in shallow water and coax him by calling his name and encouraging him with treats or toys. Never throw your dog into the water. If you’re lucky enough to be vacationing near the ocean keep a close eye on your pal to make sure he stays safe in any strong tides. If you’re swimming in a pool make sure your dog knows where the stairs are located, and give him a good rinse once he comes out. Otherwise the chlorine will dry on his fur and it may make him sick if he licks it off later.
Most importantly, enjoy your outdoors time with your furry friend. It’s easy to have a great time if you keep these few safety tips in mind. As always, feel free to call us with any questions.