Exercising your Dog in Winter or Summer

Exercising your Dog in Winter or Summer

In getting your dog to exercise, you may have to take into consideration what the weather conditions are like in the area where you live. You may also need to consider the type of dog you have in your exercise plan when dealing with winter or summer exercise, or hot or cold climates. 

For instance, your small Chihuahua may have trouble exercising outside on a very cold winter day because his short coat may not give adequate protection.  Alternately, a dog with a heavy coat, like a Newfoundland dog, may have trouble dealing with exercising in hotter weather.  

Here are a few tips in helping to deal with exercise in varied climate conditions: 

Summer Weather

  • When exercising your dog in hot weather, be sure that you have a water supply handy for him.  If he is in an exercise yard, be sure that a bowl of water is nearby so that he does not become dehydrated.  If you are walking, hiking or jogging with your dog, be sure to bring along an extra water bottle for your dog, as well as a collapsible or travel bowl.   (Tip:  If you are hiking with your dog, be aware that letting him drink out of a running stream or river may put him at risk for parasites—it is best to take along drinkable water for him.) 
  • If your dog is out in an exercise yard, be sure that there is some sort of shelter or protection from the sun. A dog can easily become over-heated and suffer from heat stroke in an unprotected hot sun area. 
  • On very hot days, and if your dog is a heavy-coated breed, try to plan indoor exercise for him where he is in a climate-controlled air-conditioned area. 
  • Swimming is a good summer activity for most dogs, large or small, light or heavy-coated. 
  • Be aware that the hot summer sun can heat up sidewalks tremendously to the point where your dog may burn his feet.  If the pavement is hot enough to ‘fry an egg’, try taking your dog to a grassy area or a dog park for a run instead. 
  • The hot summer weather is also a time for ticks and fleas to be in abundance. Make sure your dog has adequate protection for these pests. 
  • When exercising your dog in summer weather, take a clue from how much he pants as to how much the heat is affecting him.  Dogs do not sweat as humans do, but pant to release the heat from their bodies. If your dog is panting excessively, it may be a sign that he has had enough exercise for that hot day.

  • A heavy-coated dog may benefit from a shorter haircut in summer weather to keep him cooler and more comfortable. 
  • If you live in a hot desert area, you may also need to take into account the dryness of the area.  Excessive exercise in extremely dry climates can cause breathing problems in some dogs. 

Winter Weather

  • If your dog is of a short-coated breed, buy him a little coat to help him keep warm on his winter walks. 
  • Be aware that ice and snow can get between your dog’s toes and may cause him to limp with pain. Check your dog’s feet and remove the ice and snow. You should use a cream to protect your dog paws.
  • You may want to invest is dog booties for your dog’s winter walks. Both large and small breed dogs will benefit from these foot protectors.  
  • The salt on city sidewalks can also affect your dog’s paws. As mentioned above, your dog may benefit from dog booties.  There are also salves that you can buy to help relieve your dog’s chapped or sore feet. 
  • It is just as important for you to take along water for your dog in winter as it is in summer.  It is not a good idea to let your dog lick the ice on dirty city streets when he may be thirsty during his exercise walk. 
  • Be sure that you do not leave your dog outside in his yard or exercise area for too long when it is really cold.  On extremely cold days, try to plan indoor exercise activities for him. 
  • Ice can be just as slippery for dogs as it is for humans.  Help your dog to avoid icy patches on walks or runs.  They can slip and injure themselves just as humans can. They can pull muscles or break limbs when falling on slippery ice. Try not to exercise your dog by throwing a ball in icy areas. 
  • Ice can also be sharp and jagged and can cut your dog’s feet. Watch for it. 
  • Be aware that the wetness of snow and/or sleet can get under your dog’s fur and when too cold and wet he could suffer from hypothermia.  Not all dogs are suited to extreme cold weather conditions or have water resistant fur. Do not leave your dog outside for prolonged periods in unprotected areas in wet, cold conditions. And, while you are on walks be aware of his body condition and temperature.  Again, perhaps a waterproof dog coat may help. 
  • Another thing to be aware of when exercising your dog in winter conditions are the ice and snow covered trees.  Tree limbs laden with ice and snow can break and fall, and possibly injure your dog.  Try to keep your dog out of tree covered areas in these conditions.  Plan your dog’s outside exercise in safe areas.

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