MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - For many dog owners, it's nice to head to your local park with your pups. However, Dr. Cade Armstrong of Montgomery Veterinary Associates encourages doggie parents to keep an eye on their furbabies when taking a stroll.
“Well, this time of year, the most important thing is watch the temperature,” said Armstrong. “If your dog is not conditioned to heat, you need to go early in the morning or late in the afternoon. The biggest things we see are breathing issues. Dogs don’t sweat; they lose the heat through breathing, and through their paw pads.”
But it’s not just the temperature you should monitor. Armstrong also warns pet parents to be aware about the dangers of hot asphalt. He says if you’re walking or running with your dog in the middle of the day, it might be too warm.
“I think the rule of thumb with that is that anything over 80 degrees with a humidity over 80 percent is almost too hot for the dogs,” said Armstrong.
It's also important to take size and breed into account. Usually smaller dogs won't last as long in the heat; however there are exceptions. the biggest thing is paying attention to your pet while out and monitor symptoms.
“There’s not necessarily a guideline I can give you that says, ‘Oh yeah, this size dog should only run one mile,’ or something like that,” said Armstrong. “It’s all about training and conditioning, and what they’re used to.”
Additionally, if you’re taking your dogs on a run through a more wooded area, Armstrong also says to watch out for snakes. And, if your canine companion has short hair, you may want to pay extra attention to UV rays.
"Dogs can get a sunburn, so be smart about that," he said. "Don't leave them out in the sun."
If your dog begins experiencing symptoms of heat illness, such as heat stroke, it’s important to cool them off as quickly as possible.
“If they’re in an emergency, obviously we give them IV fluids to bring their body temperature down, alcohol on the pads also helps,” said Armstrong. “We do recommend not throwing them into an ice bath - you don’t want to shock them and bring them down too much - but just being smart about it is the biggest thing.”
Ultimately, you know your pets better than anyone, so get out, get active, and take care of your babies while out on a run.