A Complete Guide to Exercising Your Dog in the Summer

Written on July 16, 2019 by John Woods, Guest Writer (All Things Dogs)

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It’s seen all over the world, no matter when summer arrives, we are bombarded with images or stories of dogs suffering with heat stroke.

For some, it’s fatal.

Sometimes, it’s obvious how the dog has succumbed. Other times, well-meaning owners just haven’t realized the true impact of certain exercise on their dog in the heat.

Especially owners of brachycephalic breeds (such as Bulldogs, Shih Tzus, Pugs, and some small breed mixes) or overweight pooches.

So how do we deal with the heat? How do we keep our dogs exercised and stimulated when we are, in truth, worrying about doing so?

Firstly, We Need To Get A Handle On Heatstroke

As you may or may not know, dogs pant to cool themselves. They don’t sweat like us humans (they do have some sweat pads in their paws, so if they are stressed, you may notice sweaty paws on the exam table at your vet).

Screen Shot 2019-07-16 at 10.46.07 AMWhen panting isn’t enough to maintain the status quo, their body temperature rises. If this isn’t corrected quickly enough, it can result in overheating or heat stroke be fatal.

Remember when we mentioned the brachy breeds?

With their altered snout (flat face), they aren’t as efficient at breathing or panting. This also goes for those obese pets.  In turn, they aren’t as efficient at reducing their overall body temperature, which makes them more prone to heat stroke.

How Do I Know If My Dog Has Heat Stroke?

The symptoms of heat stroke include excessive panting, drooling, reddening gums, vomiting, diarrhea, brain fog, loss of consciousness, and/or collapse.

If you are concerned your dog may be having a heat stroke, seek veterinary care and advice immediately.

Exercising Your Dog Safely to Prevent Heat Stroke

Obviously, prevention is better than cure (not all dogs are lucky enough to survive heat stroke), so we’ve got some top tips that can help you stay out of trouble.

Walk your dog at the coolest times of the day

Even if this means getting up earlier and going to bed later. You may have to reduce your walk length, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Keep your dog inside, even out of theScreen Shot 2019-07-16 at 11.12.27 AM backyard, at the hottest parts of the day. If you have air conditioning, then put that on. Fans are great too!

Check the pavement

Check the temperature of the asphalt before you head out. Hold the back of your hand to it. If you can’t hold your hand to it, then your dog can’t walk on it.

Set up a doggy pool

If you have a sheltered yard or garden, it’s worth investing in a doggy pool (or kiddy pool). They can bob for toys or simply lay down and cool off. Remember to change the water regularly, algae poses numerous risks to our four-legged friends.

Try cooling mats

Consider looking at cooling mats. Some dogs love them, some hate them. Some dogs would just rather lay on cool tiles in the kitchen. On that note, ensure your dog has access to lay in areas to cool their body down (tiles, hard flooring, concrete, shaded paving etc).

Play brain games

If you aren’t able to exercise outside as much as you normally would, figure out whether your pooch is toy or food orientated and get creative with some brain games for indoors. You can try soak their kibble in water, mash it up, and stuff it into a Kong and freeze it. This is a perfect cooling treat for a warm day.

Practice learning some tricks or commands inside.

Go for a swim

Screen Shot 2019-07-16 at 11.12.53 AMIf you have easy access to a doggy swimming pool or dog-friendly lake/pond or beach, consider whether they will be safe and enjoy swimming. It’s a great way to meet exercise needs and keep much cool. Stay safe, invest in a life jacket, and only take your dog swimming if he/she is competent and confident.


Be mindful, if your dog is experiencing reduced activity they may start to gain weight. If necessary, reduce calories (always check with your veterinarian first).

It’s always better to air of the side of caution during these hotter months. There are plenty of ways to keep your pooch occupied and stimulated without running around excessively in intense heat. Watch their behavior and if you are concerned at any point that he/she is overheating or having a heat stroke, seek immediate veterinary attention.

John-Woods-SmallJohn Woods is the founder of All Things Dogs, a digital dog publication teaching 40M people about how to care for their dogs. As well as being the senior editor for multiple dog magazines, he is a dog trainer and pet author.

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