A version of my column appeared in The Arizona Republic Friday June 1.
It’s the time of the year when we get those great reminders about not leaving our dogs in the car.
But now that temperatures are getting toastier, we should also remember to
closely watch our dogs on hiking trails, regular walks and even in backyards.
Unfortunately, dogs can die from routine outdoor activities just as they can from being left in a car.
Vets throughout Arizona say they see it all the time during summer: a dog on a simple outing gets heat stroke by being out at the wrong time of day, being out of shape or just not getting enough water.
Unlike your slacker hiking buddies, most dogs will push themselves to the point of heatstroke to keep up with you. So summer is not the time for dogs who were wintertime couch potatoes to take up hiking.
I have an older Beagle and we also get up before the sunrise during the summer. Instead of hitting a hiking trail, we opt for a nearby golf course, which allows us to walk on grass rather than hot surfaces. I also have neighbors close by in case of emergencies.
On the trail and in the great outdoors, there are other simple precautions to protect your dog:
- Dogs are not dainty drinkers. They can slop out that water you carried in for them, so make sure to bring extra. Bring at least 18 ounces of water for your pet for every hour of planned walking.
- Choose trails you (and the dog) are familiar with. This is not the time to explore new territory.
- Know where the nearest vet is just in case
- Brush your dog’s undercoat to remove extra weight before getting on the trail.
- Use ties and vests that can be chilled before being placed upon your dog. Don’t put ice directly against your dog’s coat, however.
Given all these precautions and the possibility of danger to our dogs, why even go out during the summer? It’s a question, I ask myself even morning as I fumble for the leash and stumble out of the house for our pre-dawn walks.
Yet, the answer always comes to me almost immediately. My dog sees the world completely differently than I do. To walk with her is to get a different perspective on a sometimes difficult-to-understand place. Her joy, curiosity and excitement at what we encounter along the walk prepares us both for a better day.
But, dog and human alike, we just have to be careful out there.