Curtis Johnson, a local canine whisperer, walker and blogger, was dismayed during Sunday’s Open Streets Festival to see dogs slobbering and slouching on the macadam under a hot, strength-sapping sun.
“There were a bunch of people walking their dogs right down the middle of Lyndale, which is a black asphalt surface, which is exceedingly hot, which means that the dogs’ paws are actually warming them up instead of enabling them to keep cool,” Johnson said.
As the summer heat gains brutality, the sun’s punishment can shine down on family pets unable to vocalize their preference for air conditioning.
Johnson said animals show exhaustion differently than people and it’s important to know how to listen to your dog’s body language.
“I’m very mindful of the way that they pant and whether their tongue is in their mouth or out of their mouth or hanging out to the side and whether their breathing is affected, and if you see any of those signs, you just need to get them into a cooler spot,” he said.
He said that it isn’t necessary to keep your dog inside on the hottest days, but that you should exercise caution, sticking to the lakes, Minnehaha Creek and other areas with shade and access to water.
On Johnson’s blog, Citizen Kanine, he offered additional tips for walking dogs on hot days:
- Start your activity earlier in the day, before the sun gets too high, or plan an evening outing.
- Water is your friend – get your dog wet before starting the activity to provide some evaporative cooling. Use a gentle spray and massage the water into the coat to wet their fur down as much a possible. On the walk, be sure to carry a collapsible water dish and a full water bottle.
- Plan a route that provides access to shade or water. Walking across a damp lawn to wet down paws can also provide relief. Avoid extended stretches on asphalt that can heat up in the sun.
- Take a break. Find a shady or breezy spot and stop for five to ten minutes.
- Cool down after exercise in a shady spot and provide plenty of drinking water. You can also assist your dog’s cooling with a fan or by wetting down a concrete slab.
- A special note: Don’t spray your dog with cold water from a garden hose after exercise. The cold water will constrict the external blood vessels and drive the heat to the dog’s internal organs, potentially damaging them. Be sure to apply only room-temperature water directly to the dog.