Prevent and Identify Heat Stress, Exhaustion, and Stroke in Your Dog

When late spring turns into summer, we all want to shake off the winter lull and enjoy the increasing warmth, sun, and fresh air of the longer days. Hiking, cycling, kayaking, running or, for athletes, conditioning and training your hunting dog or taking part in hunting tests and field trials. Regardless of the activity, rising temperatures pose a risk for dogs – both well-trained and especially for those who have been living comfortably on the couch since the end of the season.

We all see the headlines every summer; leaving their dog in a locked car will result in dog overheating, bystanders interference, quotes, and more. This type of overheating is known as a non-exercise-related heat-related illness. It occurs when the dog cannot cool itself properly because environmental factors not only hinder cooling but also worsen and intensify overheating. Tight spaces with insufficient ventilation, such as in a car with the windows open, or even a lack of water and shade outside, such as in a backyard, can result in a non-strenuous HRI.

Airflow in thick grass and hiding spots is low and can cause dogs to overheat. Eukanuba

What we don’t hear, however, are the myriad dogs suffering from HRI (heat seizures, heat stress, heat exhaustion, or heat stroke) problems while participating in activities with their owners. In fact, one study suggests that a greater percentage of dogs suffer from HRI problems caused by exercise than from being locked in hot cars. I saw dogs suffer from heat problems during summer hunting tests in the north and while hunting in Texas in February. A variety of factors, including not just outside temperature and humidity, but also hydration, diet, acclimatization, physical condition and age, help a dog fight off heat-related illnesses.

How dogs deal with heat

Descended from wolves, today’s dogs are uniquely adapted to retain heat. Almost every physiological function allows the dog to internalize warmth, from the respiratory tract to the cardiovascular system to the amount and type of hair, keeping dogs warm with little effort – which was great for wolves in the wild, but great for work – and sports dogs Problems are a problem for modern society.

A dog’s body temperature depends on a balance between heat input from the internal and external environment and the dog’s ability to give off that heat.

When a panting dog inhales cold air, it easily gives off heat through breathing while removing internalized body heat. However, the closer the ambient temperature of the outside environment is to the dog’s body temperature, the less effective the dog will be at self-cooling. If the temperature exceeds the dog’s body temperature, the dog actually begins to absorb more heat from its surroundings. In addition to breathing, a dog produces heat through exercise and muscle or metabolic activity. Even the metabolism of food creates heat, which fuels an internal fire that is isolated from the dog’s body.

Hunting dog is resting in the shade.There is always shade for the breaks. Sometimes it is in the shadow of your truck. Eukanuba

An evolutionary need to increase a dog’s ability to retain heat is actually quite remarkable, especially given the limited ways a dog can give off heat. Under normal circumstances, more than 70% of a dog’s total body heat is removed by radiation and convection; that is, released from the skin into the environment. At this point, cool water is so important to prevent the dog from overheating – it acts as a heat sink, absorbing body heat from the dog’s skin. However, as the temperature of the air or water increases, this becomes less effective again.

Since dogs only sweat minimally through their paws and nose, this is not an effective cooling mechanism when large amounts of heat need to be dissipated (even less effective with hard and calloused pads, as is the case with many sports dogs). This means that panting remains the main engine of internal warmth in the environment. But as with radiation and convection, the effectiveness of panting decreases as ambient temperatures rise. When the humidity reaches 35 percent, panting will be impaired, and when the humidity is 80 percent, it will be almost completely ineffective.

Dogs most at risk

I hate comparing dogs to humans, but it’s often the easiest way to get a point across, especially when it comes to movement issues. As with humans, weight, physical condition, and acclimatization play a crucial role in determining whether a dog is experiencing heat stress, exhaustion, or stroke.

Overweight, misshapen dogs with thick hair or double coats, such as retrievers who have sat on the couch in a balmy 68 degree living room with forced ventilation, are at greater risk of heat problems if they are suddenly expected to walk hard and spend a long time hot humid weather. Chances are, you would too. Unlike you, who can dissipate heat more efficiently and are likely to stop before a problem occurs, a dog will continue to work, run, or play long after overheating – and once that process begins, it mixes up quickly. It becomes harder to stop as the dangers increase and treatment options decrease.

Dog trainer with three hunting dogs in the field.Exercising in the cool part of the day is best and usually means getting up before dawn. Eukanuba

You can literally lead your dog to death.

Even active, well-conditioned dogs are at risk if they live indoors. This is where getting used to the working conditions becomes so important. Dogs need time to slowly and consistently adapt to the outside temperatures. With time and proper acclimatization, they can handle the heat (or cold) better and with less risk. Again, a dog will work in hot or cold weather until it dies – it is up to you, the owner, to be mindful of the working conditions in the area and to ensure adequate acclimatization, plenty of water, rest and shade.

Aside from misshapen dogs, young, active dogs and those 12 and over are more prone to HRI problems, as are neutered bitches compared to intact bitches. Flat-faced dogs, such as boxers or bulldogs, struggle with the heat, and dogs with health problems are at greater risk. Interestingly, males develop higher body temperatures than females during intensive training.

Pension strategies

As always, common sense and caution are the best rules of thumb when working your dog in adverse conditions. Always play it safe and give your dog the benefit of the doubt. To protect them from heat-related illnesses, understand the signs of HRI and take these steps before, during, or after work.

Know and prepare your dog

Understand your dog’s natural abilities and what they are physically capable of – don’t push a disordered dog to work beyond their capabilities. Know your dog’s body value and strive for an ideal weight; Adjust his diet in accordance with training to achieve ideal body weight over time. Use a consistent, progressive conditioning program that slowly increases the intensity and duration of the activity. Dogs regularly conditioned in April, May, and June (earlier in the south) do better with hot weather as they gradually work as temperatures rise and their body systems have time to acclimate.

Take environmental factors into account

Environmental factors are twofold: You need to be mindful of your dog’s normal environment, especially if he spends long periods of time indoors as opposed to the environment in which you make him work hard. Acclimatization also plays a role here. Second, pay attention to the environment in which you work; Temperature, humidity, solar radiation, water access and terrain. Exercising early in the morning, when the air and ground temperatures are at their lowest, helps, as does working on and in the water. Frequent breaks in bathing in cool water help a lot – but the warmer the water, the longer the break.

Hound takes a sip of water.If you run dogs in the summer, make sure you always have plenty of cool, fresh water on hand. Eukanuba

Active dogs that exercise in the heat should be rested in a cool, shady area with plenty of water every 30 minutes to an hour. To determine if it’s too hot to exercise, add up the actual outside temperature and the humidity percentage. If the total is over 140, avoid outside activities. Example: 75 degrees with 80 percent humidity is 155, which is above the 140 threshold. Alternatively, monitor the heat index and use extreme caution if it exceeds 75.

Hydrate your dog

Water keeps your dog alive and performing at a high level. Heavy panting will quickly dehydrate a dog. Make sure your dog has frequent access to water before, during, and after work. In hot climates, start increasing the water volume between 3 and 5 days before the outdoor activity.

Monitor your dog’s water intake to make sure he is getting enough. A good rule of thumb by them is to calculate the minimum water intake from food intake. Simply multiply the number of cups of dry food offered daily by three cups. So two cups of food means the dog should drink six cups of water, and so on. Remember that this goal is the minimum amount of water your dog should drink each day when working in adverse conditions. To increase water intake, add dry food to your dog in a 1: 1 ratio and feed them immediately so that the dry food does not soak up the water. You can also use water as bait by adding a few tablespoons of canned high fat dog food to their water bowl.

Feed your dog

Take into account your dog’s diet and caloric intake and balance them with his or her activity level and environmental conditions. If you train hard or start preparing for the season in August, consider feeding a performance diet that is tailored to your activity level. It can take 8 to 12 weeks for a dog’s body to adjust and train the body systems to take advantage of the increases in dietary fat found in performance diets.

Eukanuba researched how diet can affect a dog’s body temperature during intense activity. Recently, field tests have shown promising results. Internal studies show that dogs fed the Eukanuba Premium Performance 30/20 SPORT diet for at least 50 days and then trained in field conditions actually ran cooler. Further studies are currently ongoing.

Summer training is a necessity for hunting dogs. There is no way around. To safely train and condition your hunting partner, you need to consider your dog’s lifestyle, physical condition and abilities, and use your common sense with plenty of breaks to allow your dog to cool down and drink water. Knowing the signs of heat-related illness can quickly identify and treat the symptoms so your dog can safely prepare for the rigors of the coming hunting season.

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