Summer is here and it’s time to hit the trails. Before you head out, refresh your heat safety knowledge to ensure both you and your pup enjoy a safe, healthy hike.
Don’t rely on the trail description’s promise of a creek at mile 3, be sure to carry ample water in case the source has run dry or looks stagnant. The baseline rule of thumb is about 1 cup of water per 10 pounds of body weight per day. So, a 50-pound dog needs at least 5 cups just lounging around at home. If you’re out exercising on a hot day, bring double.
Build in breaks for rest and recovery. If you plan to hike above the tree line, a lightweight umbrella makes good temporary sun protection.
Coat color, breed, size, and body condition all contribute to a dog’s ability to tolerate heat. Remember most dogs won’t be as fit on the first big hike of the season as they were last fall.
If the adventure you planned feels like too much, listen to your gut and cut it short; unexpected humidity, tough trail conditions, and getting started too late are all good reasons to try again another day.
Look for signs of heat stress, some dogs will continue to push themselves despite being overheated. Learn to recognize the signs:
If you see signs of heat stroke, immediately:
Dr. Daws is a veterinarian currently practicing in Bozeman, Montana.