Hiking with Dogs: Tips for Safe Hot Weather Hikes
Summer hikes can be a great way to enjoy the outdoors with your pup. But, when temperatures and humidity levels start to rise, there are some important precautions that should be taken to ensure your pup stays safe and healthy out on the trail. In this blog post, we’ll go over what steps you can take to protect your pup from the heat and make sure their summer hiking adventures are fun for everyone!
Temperatures & Humidity in Summer
During the summer months, temperatures and humidity levels can often shoot up and create dangerous conditions for dogs. Heat indices can easily go beyond the safe limits for them, leading to heat exhaustion and other potentially serious illnesses. As loving pet owners, it is our responsibility to make sure our furry friends are safe at all times in such oppressive heat.
In general, dogs should not spend too much time outside when it is hot. This is because dogs don’t sweat as humans do; instead they cool themselves by panting heavily and releasing heat through their paws. When these cooling mechanisms become overwhelmed due to extreme temperatures or humidity levels, it can lead to heatstroke in dogs. It’s important to keep an eye on temperature and humidity levels when planning outdoor activities with your pup.
Heat Index Levels & Time Limits for Dogs Outdoors
When it comes to hiking with your pup in the summertime, it’s important to familiarize yourself with heat index ratings so you know how long you can safely leave your dog outside at a given temperature. For example, if the temperature is 75°F (24°C) but the humidity level is very high (70%), then you may want to limit the amount of time spent outdoors as this combination could put your pup at risk of overheating.
How to interpret the heat index?
When heat and humidity are combined, the Heat Index (HI) measures what temperature your body will experience. This chart offers a general guideline to gauge how severe risk of heat illness can be, although individual reactions may differ. It’s important to note that even at temperatures lower than those indicated on this chart, one can still suffer from extreme heat exposure. Below you will find a graph for a better understanding of Heat Index Levels:
The common rules are:
- When the heat index is classified as cautionary, dogs are advised to not stay outdoors for longer than 20 minutes provided that they have access to shelter and water.
- If the heat index rises up to extreme caution levels, then a dog should spend no more than 10 minutes outside.
- In case of danger or extreme danger warnings, pet owners must keep their furry friends inside at all times!
Signs of Heatstroke
When hiking with your dog, you should always look out for signs of overheating such as heavy panting, difficulty breathing, seizures, vomiting or drooling—if any of these symptoms present themselves during a hike, immediately move your pup into a cooler environment and use water and breezes to help them cool down.
If you worry that your pup may be suffering from heatstroke, contact the vet quickly. Time is of the essence! Whilst en route to the clinic, apply rubbing alcohol on their feet pads and cool and cool water on their bodies to assist with cooling down. It’s vital not to reduce the temperature too rapidly though as this can lead to additional complications.
Gear and extra’s To Bring On The Trail
Protect Your Dog’s Paws
Whether you’re out on a hike or taking your pup for some fresh air, it’s essential to remember the hazards of hot surfaces exposed to direct sunlight. Paw pad injuries from thermal burns can cause the paw pads to ‘slough’ off and necessitate veterinary attention, bandages, antibiotics and medication.” On days when temperatures reach 85 degrees Fahrenheit outdoors, asphalt may become as hot as 135°F – an amount of heat capable of cooking an egg in only five minutes!
To avoid this, test the temperature yourself. If you press your bare foot or hand to the ground for 7 seconds and it’s too hot for your skin, chances are, it is too hot for their paw pads as well. In case of any thermal burns on your dog’s paws, rush them to a vet right away!
Booties or No Booties?
Although it may seem like a good idea, Stoltze suggests that using booties to cool down your canine companion isn’t the best plan. The trapped heat from the booties can be counterproductive and actually make things worse when it comes to releasing body heat through their paw pads. However, if you are taking them on rocky terrain or rugged hikes then these shoes will help prevent possible injuries of their delicate feet!
So, although booties may not help keep your pup cool, they can be incredibly helpful on lengthier hikes where your dog’s paw pads would have been vulnerable to damage and discomfort over time.
While booties can be beneficial, they unfortunately come with drawbacks. In order to ensure that the booties stay on securely, they must fit tightly and this often causes chafing in areas where the velcro tightens after a few hours of wear. Consequently, we would advise only wearing them occasionally.
To guard against cuts and cracking during our hikes, we apply a wax-based solution to my pup’s paws at the end of each day. Not only does it hydrate his feet, but also provides extra protection from any rough surfaces he may have encountered throughout our journey.
Bring enough drinking water for you and your dog
Ensure your pup’s well-being by providing them with a plentiful amount of drinking water – adding a few ice cubes can be an enticing way to get them to drink more. Not only that, but while you and your furry friend are out trekking around outside, bring along a reusable bottle filled with fresh H2O so they stay hydrated!
If you’re an active person who takes their pup along for the ride, don’t fret! You can find collapsible bowls and water bottles with built-in bowls to easily give your canine companion a drink while on-the-go.
Although dogs may have a robust digestive system, it’s still important to always filter their drinking water when going on a backpacking trip. Refrain from scooping water directly from streams into your pup’s bowl as they can also contract diseases (like giardiasis). Therefore, for the best health and safety of both you and your dog, filtering is key!
Related articles: Hiking Gear For Dogs
Some conclusive tips
Exercising Caution When Hiking With Your Pup
When introducing longer hikes into your pup’s routine, it’s important that you start slow and build up fitness over time—especially if they haven’t done much exercise before. Monitor their breathing closely during hikes especially in warmer weather conditions; if they start panting heavily take regular breaks where necessary so they have a chance to rest and recuperate before continuing on again. Above all else though – listen carefully! If your dog isn’t enjoying himself anymore then cut things short—it’s simply not worth risking their health!
Avoid Excessive Strain
Doggies hit the jackpot when they live a life of hiking, as trails are truly delightful places to explore. But it is important to keep an eye on them – overexertion can quickly occur in hot and humid conditions
Keep an eye on your pup’s breathing, take regular breaks from any physical activity and observe how fast they recover. If you feel like your dog is becoming overwhelmed or distressed in anyway, pause for a moment to assess the situation – it might be best to end the day there.
Beat the heat by starting your day earlier than usual – even before the sunrise! This has three major advantages: the temperature is significantly lower during night time, both rocks and soil are cooler since they haven’t been exposed to sunlight yet, and it takes a while for scorching temperatures to rise at peak hours.
Hike in the Shade
If you’re looking for a more exciting hike, be sure to ask around for some insider tips! Recently I went on an adventurous trek up The Battle Creek Falls and was pleasantly surprised with the lush vegetation that gave me plenty of shade from the sun’s rays throughout my journey.
Use a cooling vest
A cooling vest features an integrated cooler to keep your canine companion cool and reduce the effects of solar radiation. While these vests can be beneficial they cannot replace sound judgement related to heat exposure. So don’t just put on a cooling vest thinking that will this will protect your dog against extreme temperature conditions at all times – you should still exercise caution when it comes to protecting your dog from high temperatures.
Do a water-based activity instead of hiking
So far, we have discovered that taking your canine pal on bike or hike trips during the summer’s intense heat can be risky. But what if you’ve got a pup in desperate need of consistent mental and physical stimulus? Why not try an alternative activity like stand-up paddleboarding with them?
Treat your pup to a fun-filled day at the beach where they can splash around in the ocean, chase after their favorite stick, and spend quality time with you. A dog-friendly beach is an ideal place for them to get some exercise, make friends with other furry companions, and soak up all of those warm rays!
Hiking with your pup can be an incredibly rewarding experience – however extreme temperatures & humidity levels mean that caution should always be taken during summertime hikes! Make sure you know how long you can safely leave them outside at a given temperature by understanding heat index ratings; pack plenty of extra filtered water & booties; look out for signs of overheating; start small when introducing longer hikes into their routine; monitor breathing closely throughout hikes; avoid overexertion by taking frequent breaks where necessary – all of these factors will help ensure that both you and your furry friend have an enjoyable time out on the trail together this summer!