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Running in summertime presents advantages to busy people trying to stay fit…while stifling heat can be a turnoff because you’re drained and sweating before the workout even starts, the extra hours of sunlight can be hard to resist for an evening run. 

Whether you’re on-road or trail, you need sunscreen, running cap, sunglasses, and sweat-wicking gear along with a water bottle or electrolyte drink. 

But what if your dog wants to go with you? 

Should you just snap on a leash and head out the door? 

Or does your pooch need a few safeguards of its own before venturing out?

To help keep yourself and your pet sun safe while running, Vancouver based veterinarian, Dr. Kathy Kramer offered up some tips and advice in a recent email interview.  

On her first notion, she recommends running in the cooler parts of the day, early morning or late evening, if at all possible.

Certain breeds, as well as other canine candidates that should not be running in hot conditions, she explains, “Are overweight dogs, long haired breeds and brachycephalic breeds (such as Boston Terriers, French Bulldogs, Pugs, etc.) should avoid strenuous activity in hot and humid weather. 

Senior pets or dogs with heart conditions are also at risk of overheating. 

For other dogs, it really depends on how conditioned they are and how well acclimated to hot weather they are; in Vancouver, it rarely gets that warm but most dogs are not well acclimatized to strenuous activity in the heat.”

She says, “The early warning signs are excessive panting and drooling. If your dog feels hot to the touch and has red mucous membranes you need to stop activity, start actively cooling (with cool water, not cold water), and seek emergency help. 

If your dog becomes quiet or poorly responsive, begins to vomit or lay down and can’t get up, you will need to get them to the nearest veterinary hospital as soon as possible. 

Without emergency treatment, your dog may develop tremors, seizures and become comatose…heatstroke can be deadly.”

Like us humans, the importance of how well your body is conditioned to hot temperatures cannot be understated. 

It’s the same for your dog; perhaps it’s used to a particular route in hot conditions, it will know how to pace, as well as anticipate the entire path ahead. 

Dr. Kramer points out, “Like shorter runs on forest trails may be okay for dogs that are used to running in warm weather. If it is too hot for you then it is way too hot for your dog. Stopping frequently for rest and water (every 20-30 minutes) will help avoid overheating. Avoiding pavement since hot pavement can blister pads quickly. Having your dog leashed at all times is recommended for safety.”

Common mistakes are, not conditioning your dog to strenuous activity and taking enough breaks for water and rest. 

Dr. Kramer says, “Running with your dog can be a great activity for both pet parent and pet. However, please use common sense. If it’s too hot for you, it’s way too hot for your dog. “

He continues “If your overweight bulldog is not used to activity, don’t try to run 6 km with them on the hottest day of the year.”

He continues “Be aware of the warning signs of overheating, stop frequently, and always carry plenty of water for both of you! It is much better for everyone (parent, pet and veterinarian) to prevent heat stroke than to treat heat stroke. Dogs have the intelligence of two-year-olds so often they will run until they drop.” 

Fitness Featured is submitted weekly by Christine Blanchette and you can follow her on Twitter and YouTube.

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