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Pet Health Awareness: Walking Pets During the Summer Months

Aug 18, 2007
We like to take our pets on daily walks. After all, we are concerned with their health and should want them to remain in good shape. But beware of the unseen health risks to your pet that can be associated with the summer heat.

Presently I have 4 dogs in our kennel that are being watched this month. They range in age and their general health conditions vary, and each must be considered when taking these dogs for their walks.

The current makeup consists of 2 puppies only 3-4 months of age, an 8 year old but overweight German shepherd, and a 13 year old mix breed.

A single walking session shows the effects that summer plays on each dog's individual condition. The two puppies are young, vibrant and full of energy, and do not hesitate at the prospect of a 20 minute walk through the woods. The 8 year old shepherd and the 13 year old mixed are also looking forward to the same walk.

Within a few moments of walking into the woods, (the woods are about 100 yards from the kennel), you can notice a considerable change form the harsh daily sun to a much cooler shaded area of the woods. At this point each dog is holding their own on this simple and short walk.

At the halfway point, now 10 minutes of walking, we take a momentary rest, more for my sake then that of the dogs. Each dog is panting quite regularly at this stage. None of them look at all tired, and none have stopped to drink any water from my bottle.

Due to a recent rainstorm the night before, we have come across an occasional puddle or two for them to wade in. This has helped them stay a little refreshed.

As we head past the 3-quarter mark of this trail, there is a considerable difference in the overweight shepherd's desire to lead the pack. At this point, the older 13 year old mixed dog, is actually keeping a stronger pace then the young puppies, even though the puppies have stopped a number of times to rest and take on water.

By the time we reach the stretch of trail back to the kennel area, the fours dogs are showing signs of being both tired and thirsty. The last 10 feet lead straight to a waiting pool filled with fresh cold water. The older dogs take a few moments to grab a quick drink while the puppies play and splash around happily. All four dogs are taking a well deserved rest.

By and far they all show some signs of being tired. But keep this in mind that they each have reacted differently to the same walk, under the same conditions. The puppies did tend to pull more on their leashes, which will cause them to put additional stress on their collars and breathing. The overweight 8 year old, while younger showed more signs of fatigue then the older 13 year old. The mixed dog is not carrying around a lot of excess body fat. The extra weight and fat is putting additional stress on the larger dog's legs, chest and his heart.

Be careful of walking your pets in the hot summer months. Take then out during the early morning or later evenings when it is cooler. Make sure to take water with you, for the pets and yourself, if you're going to be walking any kind of long distance. When they get back, give them fresh clean water from a hose or kiddies pool. They have thick fur coats and only cool down through their tongues so please let them relax in the shade and take a break during the walk to make sure they are not getting to overheated.

Be careful to avoid heat strokes or other conditions that can be avoided with a few simple steps. Bottom line is that you should not risk your pet's health simply because it is the summertime and you went for a walk.
About the Author
Derek Wood breeds and trains large breed dogs through the use of healthy and humane techniques. He is a life-long pet advocate and animal friend.

Visit his website for more pet health care tips and articles.
Canine Health Care
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