Many of us are isolating and following guidelines to stay home. With more time to kill, I am seeing so many people and families out walking and running and getting much-needed exercise. A lot of times they are taking their pets with them. While our pets are undoubtedly enjoying this extra attention and activity, please remember that this is a big change for them as well. They are used to sleeping in the cool house or under a tree while you’re at work. Now everyone is home and there are some things we don’t think of that can affect their health negatively.
What times are you taking your dog out to walk or run?
If you are taking your dog for additional walks or even a run that they are not used to going on, at a different time of day than is normal for them, please follow some guidelines for them. No matter what age or breed, just like humans, dogs have limits as well.
If you are adding a new run or walk to your dog’s routine:
- Ease into it slowly, like you would for yourself with a new workout. They won’t tell you it hurts.
- Do not do it midday when the sun is at its peak. The sun will heat their fur and they will overheat.
- Bring water for them too. They won’t ask.
- Keep their paws cool, they aren’t wearing Nikes. Stick to shade or grass.
- If they stop and you have to coax them to keep going, STOP!
- Please don’t take your puppies on runs
I just saw a runner and his dog this past week. It was a terrible sight: his pup was down, she couldn’t breathe, and the runner had no water to cool her off. The poor dog laid on the hot sidewalk, which made it worse, and with no shade in sight. I know that the runner lives far away and was wearing only shorts and no shirt. He wasn’t hot but she sure was. The sad thing is, he is probably a great dog dad but he didn’t even think about taking water for his dog, or the dangers of running her in the heat. Maybe no one told him, but that could have- should have- been prevented. As a veterinary technician, I have seen the ramifications of this kind of situation, and I’m very concerned.
Watch for signs of heatstroke in dogs
A dog’s temperature is around 101 degrees Fahrenheit normally. Adding the sun and a workout that they are not accustomed to in the middle of the 80+ degree weather will raise their temperature and can cause massive cell and organ damage. This is pretty close to the same temperature as leaving them in a car for 15 minutes on a hot day with the windows up. Internal bleeding, respiratory distress, and even death can occur. Be sure to monitor their breathing and panting levels. Dogs who are panting heavily need a break. These are the signs to watch for if your pet is overheating. Recognize the signs of heatstroke in dogs, which include:
• brick red gums, thick white mucus
• heavy panting without stopping, even when laying down
• fast pulse rate (depends on the dog), high temperatures (from 103 to over 105 degrees Fahrenheit)
• inability to get up
If you suspect your dog has heat stroke, it’s time to take action immediately. Take your pet’s temperature rectally with a digital thermometer and a lubricant. If the temperature is above 105, cool your pup below 103 degrees by pouring cool water over the pet, or wrapping your pet in a cold, wet sheet (NOT cold, so no ice!). Take your pet to their veterinarian right away if her temperature does not lower- heat stroke is serious business.
Safe ways to play with your dog in Miami:
- Play in the yard with the hose during the peak sun hours.
- Run in the evening or early early morning.
- Go on short runs/walks until your pet becomes accustomed to them
- Play in the pool, play catch, tag, or teach them a new trick
- Play hide-and-seek inside
- Leave them home with a treat if you need a run and they aren’t used to runs.
Reach out if you have questions about any other pet-related issues you are concerned about. Let us know what you’re doing with your pet during this trying time. We like to share fun ideas and will try and help you keep them safe in doing them.
Lory Nelson-Brunner, Director
Equipaws Pet Services Home Health Division