Taking the “paths least traveled” and exploring the wilderness with Xena is my favorite outdoor activity. This time of year with the scorching heat, planning for a hike is not quite as easy.
Overheating and heat exhaustion are very dangerous and can happen very quickly with dogs. When you have a dog that has low tolerance to heat and her dark fur absorbs and retains heat for a long time as I do, the heat can be our enemy! So here are 5 tips on how to keep your pup cool and safe during the summer months and still enjoy the great outdoors together.
1. Shade Is Your Friend!
Look for shaded or at least partly shaded trails. Pick an overcast day to hike if you can. Avoid 10 AM – 4 PM when the sun is the strongest. Even if it’s shaded, if the temperature is high, it can still be too hot to hike with your dog. Partly shaded trails can look different depending on the time of the day. Research when the best time is to go. Remember dogs don’t sweat like we do so they can’t cool down as fast we can.
Finding shaded trails can be challenging if you live in a desert climate. In that case, go up higher in elevation if you can. Roughly, you lose an average 3.5 degrees Fahrenheit for every 1,000 feet of elevation you gain. For example, if you go up to 6,000 feet higher than where you are, the temperature will be roughly 21 (6 x 3.5) degrees Fahrenheit lower than your weather forecast. I say roughly because there are other factors that can affect the temperature difference as well such as clouds vs. no clouds etc.
3. Go Where the Water Is
Waterfalls, water holes, rivers, lakes and creeks are all great for cooling off! Look for hikes with a water source. It’s still too hot to hike you say? If you have a water dog, try water activities such as standup paddle boarding (aka SUP), kayaking, cruising on a boat or simply head over to the beach! Don’t forget a life vest for your dog!
I can’t emphasize this enough. Whatever activity you do, staying hydrated is extremely important for both you and your dog. Always pack more water than you think you need. Try mixing coconut water with water for a natural source of electrolytes including sodium and potassium. I take cold coconut/water mixture on our adventures in a vacuum insulated stainless steel thermos and share it with Xena. When I don’t mix water with coconut water, ice cold water is also good for wetting a bandana and keeping the back of her neck cool.
5. Summer Safety Gear
In recent years, the market for K9 adventure gear has exploded. Due to healthy competition, many companies are now making high quality products. The leading companies are making the gear with human quality materials you can trust. They are so good that you want one for yourself! As for the safety gear, there are cooling vests, booties, pet-safe sunscreen and bug repellents, sun/bug protection clothing, life vests and doggles to protect your pups from the summer heat and the harsh sun’s UV rays. Just google “Dog Adventure Gear” and you will be amazed at the available options on the market these days.
With these precautions in mind, you may be able to beat the heat! No matter what tips you take away, I recommend hiking very early in the morning and finish by mid-morning or start very late in the day when the sun is not the strongest. Have you tried a sunset hike? If you need to, shorten the length of the hike so you are not out in the sun too long. No view is worth seeing if it puts your furkid in danger.
Jamie, blogger/photographer of Hiking Girl With Dog, is always looking for a new trail to explore with her furkid Xena. The blog started casually as a place to store trail information but soon it became a place for her passion. Hiking Girl With Dog provides comprehensive dog-friendly hiking guides and dog gear reviews. Their gear reviews can be also found at hurtta247.com and dogsthathike.com. The blog was featured in DogSync.com and received Feedspot’s Top 100 Hiking Blogs award last October and it continues to make the list. Jamie hopes her and Xena’s adventures inspire more people to get out and explore with their pups and experience the joy of the great outdoors. Follow their adventures on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.