There are some essential steps to take, other than using the right gear, to ensure that your active, sporty dog stays healthy. Not all dogs are able to regulate their energy expenditure and will run until they collapse. As well as embarking on any new activity in a gradual way, it’s important that you know how to recognize signs that your dog is tired or stressed so that you can intervene when necessary and take the right course of action: for example, alternating walking with running, taking rest breaks and always making sure you always have fresh, clean water available for your dog to drink and rehydrate.
Bear in mind that running is not a sport which is suitable for all dogs, particularly as the weather gets warmer. Certain crossbreeds, brachycephalic dogs, a lot of Molosser type breeds, dogs with short legs, double-coated breeds as well as elderly dogs, puppies under a year old and dogs who are overweight or have a particular medical condition are more at risk of heatstroke and must not be made to do strenuous activity. Running is not recommended for any dog when temperatures reach 25°C or higher, it is much better to go for a walk and stick to areas where there is lots of shade as well as choosing times of day when the air is cooler – early morning or late evening.
Even if you use cooling aids, remember that dogs should never be left outside in direct sun without having access to shade and they should never be left in cars, as the interior temperature can rise to dangerous levels in a very short time.
Your vet is generally a great source of advice about what activities are suitable and safe for your dog and can make recommendations during check-ups and after careful evaluation of your dog’s general health and fitness level.