WATER BREAKS

Hydration for both you and your dog while on a run is vital. You will need to either carry water yourself, or via your dog - or you can do both. The other alternative is to plan your route so you know where appropriate (e.g. doggy friendly) accessible drink stations are along the way. Carrying water on you is preferential so that you have a guaranteed water supply. The weather can directly affect your dog’s water needs and in warmer weather their thirst may double or even triple the normal amount generally consumed, so it's best not to get caught short.

There are several different ways you can choose to carry water for the both of you and this ranges from hydration vests to running belts, hydration belts and even dog hydration packs. Many of these will also have extra pockets to help you hold a few extra necessities such as your phone, dog clean up bags, treats, bandaids or even wet wipes if you like to go out super prepared.

We lose a lot of fluid during exercise and your dog is likely to be working harder than you due to their fur coat. Hydration helps the muscles to work effectively, supports swift reflexes and enables the body to flush out toxins, and so water provision should be an integral part of exercise for your dog, before, during and after. Collapsible containers or a bowl with a special spout can also be useful to assist your dog in drinking.

 

You are the best judge of when you think it may be time to stop for a water break and the frequency will also depend on the weather and intensity of your run. If you are still learning your dog’s behaviour, then try to stop every ten minutes until you can get a better gauge of your dogs thirst.  Don't let your dog gulp too much water during or after exercise. When they're hot and thirsty it is possible for dogs to drink too much and suffer from potentially fatal water intoxication or from bloat - a dangerous condition in which they swallow a lot of air (or food). So it is wise to offer them water after your run, but to wait until they are cool and relaxed before giving them free rein to drink as much as they want.

 

During and after your run watch your dog for signs of heatstroke or overexertion - like lethargy, weakness, drooling and dark red gums, vomiting, bloody diarrhoea, or panting to the point that he/she can't catch their breath. The easiest way to check for dehydration is to lift a pinch of skin from the back of your dog’s neck. If, when you let it go, it immediately falls back into place, your dog’s hydration is fine. However, if the skin doesn’t fall back into place or does so slowly, call your veterinarian right away. If your dog stops and refuses to continue during a run, don't force them. Any time your dog seems overheated you should find shade and give them cool or air-temperature water. If your dog is physically hot when you get home, soak a towel in some cool (not cold) water and wrap it around them until they become cooler and more relaxed.​ You can also wet their head or body or find some water to cool off in. Always seek immediate veterinary attention to give them the all clear. Heatstroke in dogs can be prevented by taking caution not to expose a dog to hot and humid conditions. ​Dogs are people-pleasers and most will continue to run until collapse - so its up to us to do our best to keep them safe!

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