Heat exhaustion or heat stroke is very dangerous for pets but sadly I see a lot of people who do not take this seriously on/off the trail. It doesn’t mean we can’t go out and enjoy the outdoors. We just need to be mindful. As pet owners, we are responsible for our pet’s well-being.
During the month of July and August, our trail adventure reduces significantly in number and it’s always play by ear week to week. Especially with her black fur, I need to pay special attention to Xena during summer. So what are the important things to keep in mind when you are planning for an outdoor activity with your pup?
When the forecast calls for a hot day (above 80 degrees), I don’t take her hiking at all because I know her limit. On other days, here is my checklist for keeping Xena safe when we are out on the trails:
1. Watch the time
Occasionally, we get lucky with an overcast day but usually, it’s not like that in Southern California. Even if it’s overcast in the morning, it usually clears up by 9-9:30 am so we start early and complete the hike by 10 am, at the latest 10:30.
2. Location Location Location
It’s not just for home buying. I research for the trails that have shades and/or water (stream, lake, river, etc.) feature before we go. This is a real challenge where we live so #1 on this list is very crucial. Luckily, we live close to the ocean so I stick to coastal trails during these months for the occasional ocean breeze.
3. Protect yourself and your pup from the strong sun rays
I’ve been using a Ruffwear Swamp Cooler vest for Xena for two years. It’s now showing a little bit of wear and tear but still in good condition. I machine-wash it in the gentle cycle and it’s ready for the next adventure. We use this vest all year around because Xena doesn’t handle heat very well. I put the vest on her on a sunny day before she gets hot. It keeps her from overheating quickly. Click here for my detail product review from last year.
A bandana comes in very handy on a trail. I have a regular bandana. Nothing special about it. Xena wears it around her neck while hiking. When her panting gets little heavier, I wet it with cool water which I carry in my Hydro Flask and tie it loosely around her neck. When we take a break, I wet it and cover her head and neck with it to help her cool down faster. She likes it.
4. Hydration, Hydration, Hydration
I can’t emphasize this enough. When we are walking back to the car, I often see people just starting the hike with their dogs and carrying only a small bottle of water. That’s barely enough for the human! Hydration is important all the time, not just summer. For your body to operate at its optimal level, your body needs hydration.
My regular followers already know that I carry coconut/water mix in my Camelbak. In summer, I add ice to the Camelbak to keep it cool. In addition, I carry 32 oz of cold water in my Hydro Flask which keeps the water cool for hours! I use it for drinking as well as to wet Xena’s bandana. It works for hot too. Great way to carry a hot beverage on winter hikes!
5. Pay close attention
Like how we have good days and not so good days? Dogs have the same kind of thing. Usually, Xena is in a good condition and ready to explore when we get to the trail but occasionally she just seems sluggish for no good reason. On those not so perfect days, I don’t push her. We take more breaks and go as far as she seems to be up for it. Luckily (or not) she is not an over-pleaser and she lets me know when she is not feeling up to it. The girl has a pup attitude. I love her for it though. She knows how to speak her mind!
There is a lot of good information on the internet regarding heatstroke/heat exhaustion in pets. Please take a moment to read this and educate yourself if you are not already familiar with it. I’d love to hear what precautions you take for your pet. Please do share!
Hope you have fun and safe rest of the summer!