Your pets are just as vulnerable to heat exhaustion and heat stroke as their humans. You sweat to keep yourself from overheating. But how do your four-legged friends keep their cool?
How Your Pets Sweat
Dogs and other pets don’t sweat through their skin and fur. Their sweat glands are located in their foot pads. They cool themselves through their paws and by panting through their noses and mouths. (Be sure you don’t muzzle your dog! They need to freely pant.)
It’s especially important to protect their paws, so avoid walking your dog on dangerously hot surfaces like sand (at the beach), concrete, or asphalt as they can severely burn their foot pads. Before taking your dog for a walk, place your hand or bare foot on the walking surface for 10 seconds. If it’s too hot for you, then it’s too hot for your pet! Opt for cool grass or shady areas.
Urine comes in a variety of colors (and smells) which can say a lot about you. Check out this infographic from the Cleveland Clinic. Your pee color is a good barometer for your level of hydration. Be sure to drink enough water — especially if you exercise, the weather is warm or you’re sweating a lot from dreadful hot flashes!
Dehydration is a risk factor for painful kidney stones and low blood pressure (your blood loses volume) whereby your brain and muscles can’t get enough oxygen. A good rule of thumb is to drink half your weight in ounces. For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, try to drink 75 ounces of water per day which is a little more than 9 cups. Add exercise and you’ll need to drink even more.
Fit Tip: If you’re not a water drinker, “eat” your fluids by consuming a lot of ‘water-rich’ foods like fruits and vegetables. Lettuce is 95% water, watermelon 92%, oranges 88%, and apples are 84% water. Also, soups made with lots of broth and veggies are an excellent way to get hydrated.
When you’re working out, sweaty and thirsty, you’re likely to think about drinking some water. But it’s just as important to think about it BEFORE you work out and here’s why.
Exercise and Water Basics
When exercising, your muscles contract and generate internal heat. To prevent overheating, the heat must be promptly dissipated via your body’s cooling mechanism (sweating). Sweat cools the surface of the skin and decreases your body temperature.
Maintaining good hydration levels during exercise is critical to regulating body temperature (thermoregulation) and regulating blood pressure. When you’re dehydrated, your body’s mechanism to get rid of heat shuts down which can result in heat exhaustion or worse yet, heat stroke.
By keeping your body adequately hydrated, you can perform at your optimal level. Without adequate water, your neuromuscular activity slows down which affects how fast and how hard your muscles can contract. As a result, you can experience a loss of strength, reduced endurance and/or slower reaction and response times. Continue reading “Pre-Exercise Hydration”→
Water not only quenches the thirst, it’s vital for organs to function. It’s needed for digestion, to carry nutrients and oxygen, control blood pressure, and to even lubricate joints. Without enough water, skin, the largest organ in the body, can become dry and wrinkled. Do you drink enough water every day?
UPDATE: About 55 to 80% of a person’s body weight is water. Water is lost during breathing when humidified air leaves the body as well as through daily urination, sweat, and stool.
Percentage of Total Body Water Lost
In a day’s work, the body loses about 8 to 12 cups of water and all of that fluid needs to go back in. When you become dehydrated, your blood loses volume and your heart can’t circulate blood effectively. The eventual result… heart failure.
A loss of just 2% of total body water will result in stronger thirst, vague discomfort, and a loss of appetite. This percentage of can impair your exercise performance:
Decreases your sweat rate
Increases your core temperature (causing exhaustion from heat strain)
Decreases maximal cardiac output (i.e., the highest pumping capacity of the heart that can be achieved during exercise)
NOTE: A loss of only 20% of total body water could result in death.