Hot Weather and Dogs

Hot weather can lead to several serious health or safety concerns in both you and your dog. WIth a little preparation you can still enjoy the summer months with your dog.

  • At the trailhead, remember to never leave your dog in a parked car for any length of time. Heatstroke, harassment and theft are all possiblilties. If you have to- even for a moment- leave the doors locked, the windows cracked and provide cool water. Something that works well for us on car trips that would be good in this situation is a plastic container with 1-2″ of water frozen in the bottom. As the ice thaws the dog has a cool drink- and it won’t spill.
  • Always have plenty of water on hand. If this means treating some along the way, do it. Dehydration can set in in as little as 15 minutes and is not to be treated lightly. Plan on at least one gallon (4 Liters) of water for each of you each day. Some will need much more fluid than this.
  • According to the Mush with P.R.I.D.E. Sled Dog Care Guidelines, dogs should drink a minimum of 1 oz of water per pound of body weight per day. This can easily be doubled or tripled when on the trail. You can monitor your dogs’ hydration by examining their skin and gums. In a well-hydrated dog, the tent made by lifting up the skin on the shoulder blades should disappear within one to two seconds, and the white spot made by pressing on a pink area of the gums should disappear in one second or less. If your dog is not drinking water, try baiting it with garlic powder or meat broth.
  • Try freezing water in leakproof containers before hitting the trail. If you put these blocks of ice in the dog’s pack it will help cool him while you work.
  • Pick a shady area to hike or play. Many times it will be as much as ten degrees cooler than in direct sunlight. Rest often, always in a shady spot.
  • Go unconventional! Hike early in the day and into the dusk with a break during the hottest hours. This will mean packing a damp tent in the morning, but you can spread it out to dry while taking a siesta.
  • Don’t plan on getting as many miles in when it’s 90 as you would when it’s 60. It’s hotter so you’re working a lot harder. Take your time and have fun seeing the sites.
  • Swimming is rewarding and can make you and Spot feel cooler. Take a break for a dip- or plan the day at the lake. You could also train your dog to sit in your canoe or kayak and have fun that way.
  • Remember to wear a hat, long sleeves and sunscreen. Some lighter colored dogs may need sunscreen on flesh-colored noses (Lucy also needs it on a bare spot on her fanny).
  • Watch feet for heat blisters, especially on hot surfaces such as roads, sunny rocks and boats. If needed, apply burn cream and booties.
  • Eye protection might be needed for your pooch- try some special made dog sunglasses like doggles.
  • For dog-friendly bug repellant, try tying dryer sheets to his collar and your hat/hair. It will keep biting and stinging bugs away.
  • Bandanas can be wetted and tied around Lassie’s neck to help her cool down. A wet towel placed under a pack will help as well.
  • Even though it’s hot during the day, when the sun goes down, so does the temperature. Remember to pack along a blanket (and sleeping pad) for short coated breeds.