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Working Dogs During Hot Weather

Doing what we do we have bred and trained our dogs to go when we say go and not to quit until we tell them to.  Therefore it is our responsibility to ALWAYS look after our dogs and hold their health and safety as our highest priority.

 

When training our dogs in the summer, we must be vigilant in monitoring them for signs of over-heating. Dogs dissipate increasing body temperature through panting and will move into a cooler environment if given an opportunity. A dog’s normal temperature is around 102 F, and problems can occur when their body temperature goes above 103. A small amount of sweating only occurs on the pads of their feet and is not effective in helping to lower their body temperature. When a dog is exercised, they are producing heat within their body when the muscle is working.

 

To prepare our dogs for working during the summer heat:

  • Maintain fitness so that the cardiovascular system as well as muscle coordination is efficient.

  • Avoid obesity. Overweight dogs have a much harder time cooling themselves and this increases whole body workload.

  • Keep well hydrated, avoid feeding a meal within one hour of exercise.

  • Keep water available, provide shade, and allow frequent breaks.

  • Remember that high humidity makes cooling themselves through panting harder.

  • Be aware of any medical conditions or medications that may alter temperature regulation.

 

Signs of over-heating:

  • Excessive panting with the tongue appearing to get longer and longer. Gums may become red.

  • Become less responsive to commands, acting “odd” or “out of it”.

  • Often the dog won’t drink when offered water.

  • Rectal temperature over 103 F. Temperature 105 or greater will require aggressive measures to cool.

 

What to do if overheating occurs:

  • Change the temperature of the dog’s immediate environment as quickly as possible (move from the sun to shade, apply cooler water to body, move to air conditioning or in front of a fan)

  • If the dog won’t drink, use a spray bottle with water to wet gums and tongue.

  • Use a fan to move cooler air over the body to help dissipate heat.

  • Repeated applications of cool or cold water. Applying ice for short periods of time especially when you cannot cool the environment is okay but “packing the body” in ice is not recommended as it will decrease blood circulation.

 

What to pack during hot weather training:

  • Plenty of water, 2 – 3X what you know that you will need.

  • Cooler with ice so that you can keep his drinking water from becoming too hot and can cool more aggressively if needed.

  • Fan (many battery-powered portable models available)

  • Cooling vests or chamois cloths, cool pads*

  • Small spray bottle

  • Shade cloth to drape over vehicle or pop-up canopy to provide shade​

*Hugs Pet Products Chillz Pad Comfort Cooling Gel Pet Pad from Amazon