By Tommy Hough
Everyone knows Danielle and I are dog fans, and no matter where we might be, if there’s a dog in the vicinity its going to get some attention from us. We encourage dog owners to spend as much time with their dogs as possible, and offer a quick reminder that your dog will remain loyal to you to the end. Like humans, dogs are social animals, and they want nothing more than to receive your attention and be with you — and be there for you.
But in some cases, that can put the dog in danger. We’d never walk 100 miles and expect our dogs to follow us every step of the way without giving them water or food, but your dog would follow you for as long as he or she could. And while a short hike up Cowles Mountain might be a fun, characteristically San Diego morning or afternoon outing for you and your dog, it can be deadly for the pooch in hot weather like the kind we’re having now.
Case in point, an overheated golden retriever had to be rescued from Cowles Mountain on Saturday. Thankfully, the dog is recovering, but that kind of exposure can permanently harm an animal. And while wild animals know to moderate their exposure in hot weather, pets don’t. Their first and only allegiance is to you, and they’ll follow you anywhere, even up a mountain a hot day. Don’t put them in that position.
People often don’t realize that dogs don’t sweat — they pant. All of their cooling takes place through their mouth, and when they’re trying to cool off in sweltering weather from under a bed of fur surrounding their bodies, they rapidly dehydrate and undergo terrible stress. You’d never leave your dog in a car with the sun blazing on it, so please don’t take your dog hiking with you if it’s getting into the 90s.
In addition, people don’t often realize how hard dogs have to work to keep up with you. While we humans can take nice, broad steps that are comfortable to us, dogs have to keep pace by exerting much more energy. While some dogs love to go jogging or skateboarding with their owners — and remember, they’ll follow you anywhere — make sure your dog isn’t getting too wiped out keeping up with you and your broad legs in hot weather.
Even hearty dogs used to hiking trails and warm weather can get into a jam in heat waves, so be considerate and consider if your dog wouldn’t be better off in some air conditioning while you’re scaling peaks in hot weather.