Avoiding Heat Related Injuries in Dogs
thing that needs to be understood is that dogs and people
are different enough that most of the info cannot cross lines.
I do not profess to know what the appropriate procedures for
people other than what I learned in first aid.
not lose enough electrolytes thru exercise to make a difference,
but if the dog gets truly into heat stroke the physiology
changes will make them necessary. BUT oral replacement at
that point is futile, they need intravenous fluids and electrolytes
and lots of it.
Evaporative cooling is the most efficient mean of cooling.
in a muggy environment, the moisture will not evaporate so
cooling does not happen well. I cool with the coldest water
I can find and will use ice depending on the situation. The
best way is to run water over the dog, so there is always
fresh water in contact with the skin. When you immerse a dog
in a tub, the water trapped in the hair coat will get warm
next to the dog, and act as an insulator against the cool
water and cooling stops. If you can run water over the dog
and place it in front of a fan that is the best. Misting the
dog with water will only help if you are in a dry environment
or in front of a fan. Just getting the dog wet is not the
point, you want the water to be cool itself, or to evaporate.
situations all you will need to do is get the dog in a cooler
environment, ie shade, or in the cab of the truck with the
air conditioning on (driving around so the truck does not
overheat and the AC is more efficient). Up to a couple of
years ago, I was very concerned about my dogs getting too
hot in the back of my black pickup with a black cap. New white
truck fixed a lot of that problem. When I had one dog I just
pulled the wire crate out of the car and put it in some shade
and hopefully a breeze. But having 2 dogs and running from
one stake to another, that was not feasible. So I built a
platform to put the wire crates on, this raises the dog up
in the truck box where the air flow is better. Then I placed
a 3 speed box fan in front blowing on the dogs with a foot
of space to allow better airflow. I purchased a power inverter
that connects to the battery and allows the
fan to run from the truck power. It has an automatic feature
that prevents it from draining the battery. When I turned
that fan on medium I would find that the dogs where asleep,
breathing slowly and appeared very relaxed and comfortable
in a matter of 20 minutes or less, even on very hot muggy
I do carry it for emergiencies. It is very effective at cooling
due to the rapid evaporation. It should be used when other
methods are not working. You should be on your way to the
veterinarian before you get to this point. We recommend using
rubbing alcohol, which is propylene alcohol, not ethyl, for
those of you not aware. So do not try to drink it. Alcohol
should be used on the pads and lower feet area where there
is little more than skin and blood vessels over the bones.
Use a little bit and let it evaporate, you can use too much
as some is absorbed through the skin. There are concerns about
toxicity, but you have to get the temperature down.
those cooling pads that you soak in cold water, but found
that the dogs would not lay on them. I would hold them on
the back of a dog that just worked to get a quick cool, but
have not used them for years. I also bought a pair of battery
operated fans but found them pretty useless. Spend your money
on the power inverter and get a real fan.
temperature: If you feel your dog is in danger of heat injury,
check its temp and write it down. Keep checking the temp every
3 minutes. I recommend to get a "rectal glass thermometer.
The digital ones for the drug store I have found to be very
unreliable, Don't forget to shake it down completely each
time, sounds silly, but when are worried about your companion,
things tend to get mixed up. This is VERY IMPORTANT**once
the temp STARTS to drop, STOP ALL COOLING EFFORTS. The cooling
process will continue even though you have stopped. If the
temp starts at 106.5, and then next time it drops to 105.5,
stop cooling the dog, dry it off, and continue monitoring.
You will be amazed how it continues to go down. If you do
not stop until the temp is 102, the temp will drop way too
low. I cannot emphasis this point enough.
dog is so heated that it is panting severely, only let it
have a few laps of water. Water in the stomach does not cool
the dog, you just need to keep the mouth wet so the panting
is more effective.
worry about hydration until the temp has started down. A dog
panting heavily taking in large amounts of water is a risk
the heavy panting they will swallow air, mixed with a large
amount of water they can bloat. Once the temp is going down
and panting has slowed to more normal panting then allow water.
The dog will rehydrate it self after temp is normal. If the
dog has a serious problem and even though you have gotten
the temp normal, get the dog to a vet, as it can still need
IV fluids and some medication. Also, a case of heat stroke
can induce a case of hemorrhagic gastroenteritis (not parvo),
with a ton of very bloody diarrhea and a lot of fluid and
electrolyte loss. These cases need aggressive treatment.
method of treatment is prevention. Learn to watch your dog,
and see the changes in the size of the tongue, and how quickly
it goes down. Learn your dogs response to the different environments,
and be careful when you head south for an early season hunt
test or trial. I have been to Nashville at the end of May,
only 5 hours away, but the difference in temp and humidity
did effect the dogs as they were used to more spring weather
in Ohio. Try different things in training to help the dog
cool and learn what works better. Another very important point=>
Do not swim your hot dog to cool it then put in put in a box/
tight crate. Remember, evaporation can not take place in a
tight space, and the box will turn into a sauna and you will
cook your dog.
a stake out chain, and let the dog cool and dry before putting
it up. I demonstrated this lesson this spring with my 10 month
doing a 15 minute session in yard drill on a warm 70+ degree
day, she was panting pretty hard and was pretty hot. She was
OK but it was time to stop. Just for the heck of it I took
her temp. She was 103.6, above normal but too bad for a dog
that had just finished working. In my back yard I have a 300
gallon Rubbermaid tub filled with water. I took her to it
and she jumped in and out 3-4 times. She appeared totally
improved, tongue was much smaller, and eyes brighter and her
full spring was back into her step. So I re-took her temp
and it was 104.2, so even though she looked better she was
hotter. This is a perfect lesson to show not get a hot dog
wet and then put them in a box. The water on her skin caused
the blood vessels to constrict, decreasing blood flow to the
skin. Therefore the hot blood was shunted back to the dog's
core and retianed the heat. You may have felt the same thing,
after exercising but still being very warm, take a shower
and get cooled off but as soon as you turn the shower off
you start sweating again.
this is s bit long, but hopefully this is easy to understand
and helps provide some useful information.
Prevention, learn your dog. It is worth the time and effort.