San Francisco has had and exceptionally warm summer so far. By warm I mean high 60s to low 70s and no fog. That is very rare. Yea, I know most of the country is experiencing much warmer temperatures and usually, I'm quite envious. It is true what Frank Sinatra said about his experience of the coldest winter being a summer day in San Francisco. Don't get me wrong. I'm not complaining. The sun has been a great treat and I'm taking full advantage of it!
The other day the temperature was in the low 70s pretty early in the morning. I knew if I didn't hurry and get out to run, I would miss the entire day. Taking my favorite running partner, Saulo (my dog) we headed out to beat the rising temperatures. About 4 miles in to the run I noticed that Saulo was breathing harder and his mouth wouldn't close. I gave him water, which he gladly took and decided to stop and walk the rest of the way home. I started to make a list of other things I should take in to consideration while running in warm weather with a dog. Here are five things I've come up with:
Summertime = Flea Season - During this season, it's extra important to stay up to date with your dog's flea regiment. Make sure he/she is properly treated. Flea counts tend to soar during the warmer seasons making it easier for your dog to attract them. The same goes for ticks.
Hydrate - Make sure you bring more water than usual to keep your pooch hydrated. This includes giving them plenty of water before, during and after their run. Dogs are pretty obvious when they're thirsty. Look for the tongue hanging out, unusual panting, or a lack of saliva showing in their mouth, to name a few. If you see any signs that your dog is thirsty, stop for a drink.
Slowdown - During the warmer days, it's best to slow down your pace. Make runs a little more comfortable by not going as fast. This will help your dog not to overheat and/or over-exert himself.
Blisters - If you're running on pavement, be cognizant of the temperature. While you have your shoes as a barrier, your pooch is often running on it's bare paws - well at least mine doesn't have his own shoes. Make sure you feel the surface before starting and map your route. If at all possible, try to stay on paths that have grass. If you are running on pavement stop every once in a while and check out his/her paws. If the pavement is too hot, they will get blisters and no one wants to see their best friend with heat blisters - ouch.
Run early or late - As with humans, it's best to get your run out of the way first thing in the morning. I'm in San Francisco and have learned that ideally, my run should be done before 9am. If it goes later than that, it tends to become uncomfortable for my dog. Try to avoid the hottest hours of the day to run with your dog. Peak times are usually late morning until mid-afternoon. If you can't make it in the morning, early evening should also offer some relief from the heat (although morning is usually coolest.)
I love running with my dog. I know he enjoys the run. He motivates me to do it and not complain about it. Since I know he won't complain, it's important I keep him comfortable. I want my running buddy to remain my running buddy for a long time to come.