13th July 2022
When I called up a dog trainer to book dog training for my then 3 month old collie pup called Mac she said to me ‘do you know what you are getting yourself into getting a collie? They need a lot of exercise and will develop behavioural issues if their needs are not met’. And when I told one of my friends she laughed and responded with ‘does the collie pup know what he is getting himself into having you as his owner?’ referring to my very active lifestyle.
Now, I take my collie Mac everywhere with me! During the winter months he comes ski touring with me and during the summer he comes running and mountain biking. Sometimes we will be out on adventures 4-5 hours long. So how do I keep him healthy, injury free and, most importantly, well hydrated?
Making sure they’re fit and ready
Just like us humans, if I would take Mac on a big run, ride or ski with me without having him fit for it he would easily be broken. Before talking about hydration, I think it is important your dog is fit and ready for long walks during the summer, so they can cope with it even on the warmer days.
Remember: It’s important not to exercise your puppy too much too young.
Gradually increase their exercise
You can get them ready by increasing their daily walks gradually over a 4-week period and making sure they get daily exercise so that their joints and muscles are ready for action on the days you want to go on a long walk.
Keeping your dog hydrated
Hydration is a very important part of keeping your dog healthy. Dogs are, give or take, 75% water and it’s the main component of healthy, living cells of the body. This means it’s vital to make sure that they stay hydrated throughout the day to avoid becoming unwell.
What is dehydration?
Dehydration is a condition where the water level in the body is insufficient and water will be drawn out of cells to compensate. This leads in loss of important electrolytes such as potassium, sodium and chloride which affects many different body systems and functions. Severe dehydration can lead to illness and is something which needs to be taken seriously.
What if your beloved dog is not a big drinker?
You can do some simple things like adding water to their food or encourage them to drink by adding flavour like a small amount of chicken stock (beware of the salt quantity!), a bit of syrup or a lick of honey to their water bowls. Dogs love flowing water so you can also try playful ways to encourage drinking like playing with a hose, incorporating water toys into playtime or use a pet fountain. Some animals are picky with what kind of water bowl is being used so if your pet is not drinking try a different material, like ceramic, plastic or steel and make sure the water is clean and fresh.
Remember: Avoid any stock that contains any toxic ingredients like garlic or onions.
How do I know if my dog is dehydrated?
There are some key clinical signs of dehydration such as excessive panting, a dry nose or gums, loss of elasticity of skin/coat, tired/sluggish behaviour, and in worse cases your dog can become uncoordinated as if they are drunk.
Remember: If you can’t get your pet to drink, a visit to your vet might be needed where they will be able to rehydrate them with intravenous fluids.
How is dehydration treated?
Dogs suffering from mild dehydration can be treated with small amounts of water every few minutes, making sure they don’t drink too much too quickly as it could cause them to vomit. In more severe cases, they’re likely to need intravenous treatment by a vet to rehydrate them.
It’s critical that your dog receives immediate care if they’re dehydrated so be sure to contact the nearest vet for medical advice as soon as you recognise the symptoms.
How to keep your pet safe on summer days?
I live in the Alps and spend some big days in the mountains with Mac. I am lucky that there a lot of water troughs dotted around so on hot days I will plan a route where I know there will be a water source every 20-30min. Mac will be able to cool down and have a drink and I generally let him do that for 5-10 minutes or let him decide when he is ready to keep going
I will also always pack extra water for Mac in my backpack, especially when I don’t know the route very well. On hot days I will stay in the forests for more shade to keep Mac cool. On return I will make sure he has plenty of fresh water, a cool place to lay down, constantly monitor how much he is drinking, and if I have any doubts, I will add water to his food.
So, he will be ready the next day to do it all over again!
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