Summer is here! The hot weather is just starting to roll in and we're gearing up for our water training but more importantly we need to keep an eye out for heatstroke, especially with our heavier coated breeds. The NCA has a great article on heatstroke which applies to any dog large or small; it covers how to detect it, the critical steps once it is discovered, and what your vet can and should do to attempt to bring the dog's temperature down. There's another good article on heatstroke symptoms at Dr.'s Foster and Smith. Heat stroke occurs when the dog's temperature reaches 106 degrees, and since dogs can only perspire through their mouth (through panting), their noses, and through their feet they are very susceptible to the raising temperatures outside. Even more critical in the Bay Area where we have several microclimates within miles of each other- it could be cool in Richmond, but in Berkeley which is about 5 miles away it could be 5-10 degrees hotter.
But, let's go over what you would think would be the obvious preventative measures for any dog:
- DO NOT leave your dog in the car for any amount of time even with the windows rolled down. It takes less than 5 minutes for a dog to get overheated and potentially die in a car.
- ALWAYS provide fresh, clean water for your dog. Pet Top Combo Pack are adapters that you can put on a regular water bottle that dogs can lick off of. Just don't accidentally recycle it like we did the first set! DO NOT let them drink a large amount of cold water due to risk of bloating, keep a spray bottle full of water to mist the inside of your dog's mouth and feet. Let them cool down in a cool room or car to the point where they are not panting before you give them a large quantity of water, and always be aware that even then your dog can bloat.
- Keep a fan on your dog if possible, Ryobi has a cordless fan that I've seen a few people use at the shows, just make sure to buy an extra battery to charge.
- Use chill vests like the Swamp Cooler from Ruffwear to keep cool for prolonged periods out in the sun or heat.
- Use chill pads in crates and in your house like the K&H Chill Pad III. We bought Foyle two of them and now we find him laying on them all the time! We put one in his crate and we take one with us in the car.
- Outward Hound has a bandana packed with non-toxic polymer crystals that stay cool for hours once soaked in water.
- I've seen handlers lay wet towels down on the ground for dogs to stand in during Group or during a large class. They have great fabrics now that retain a large amount of water for the size of the towel.
- Don't show in your class if it is extremely hot outside! It's not worth losing your dog to something that can be avoided. Think before you show. I've seen handlers outside in 104 degree weather showing Akitas, Huskies, Newfoundlands, etc.... is it really worth it???
- Always be prepared for hot weather during the summer. Keep your car packed with extra towels, water, portable fans, anything you need to protect your dogs from the heat.