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Overheated Dog


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Not sure that this has been posted here before, so I thought I would post it for those that have not read it. Very informative about overheating a dog and cooling options.

This is from a retriever owning veterinarian:


The first 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.

Dogs do 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 IV and lots of it.

Cooling: Evaporative cooling is the most efficient mean of cooling. However, 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. 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 in not the point, you want the water to be cool itself, or to evaporate.

For MOST 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 3 speed 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 days.

Alcohol: I do carry it for emergencies. 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.

I purchased those cooling pads, 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 use 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.

Watching 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 105.8, 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.

When the 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. Do not worry about hydration until the temp has started down. A dog panting heavily taking in large amounts of water is a risk of bloat. Due to the heavy panting they will swallow air mix in 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.

The best 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. Carry a stake out chain, and let the dog cool and dry before putting it up.

I know this is s bit long, but hopefully this is easy to understand and helps provide some useful information.

Remember: Prevention, learn your dog. It is worth the time and effort.

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Great info Hemi. Everyone should read. My two brittanys that are now 13 years old have had heat exhaustion. Cody had it about 2 years ago over labor day weekend, and Britt had it over labor day weekend this year. Luckily I never had to deal with it until they were later in their life, and the recovered okay, mainly because I was able to provide plenty of water, etc. It can be scarry. Thanks for posting the info!

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  • 10 months later...

Back to the top. Dove opener has come and passed and hunting season is underway.....good reminder for hunting in these warmer temps.

Added from another site:

Heat Prostration:

Early warning signs are 1. Heavy panting and bright red (brick red) mucous membranes. Look at the gums and the conjunctival tissue around the eyes. These areas should be pink but not red. 2. Anxiety and agitation. 3. Tachycardia (elevated heart rate). 4. Hyperthermia - normal body temp for dog should be somewhere between 100 and 102 deg. Fahrenheit. Heat stroke or heat prostration usually develops with acute elevations of body temps over 106 deg. Fahrenheit. Because our mean body temperature is lower than a dog's, a dog will almost always feel warm or hot to the human touch. Use a thermometer to determine what the dog's temperature actually is. By doing this it will also give you a good idea of how severe the problem is. 5. Stumbling and staggering.

If the condition persists and progresses the following signs will appear. 6. Severe respiratory distress and cyanosis (mucous membranes will become blue). 7. Stupor. The dog will appear very lifeless and like it is drunk. 8. Hemorrhagic diarrhea and vomiting. 9. Seizures and coma. 10. Respiratory arrest. The goal of therapy should be to attempt an immediate reversal of the hyperthermia and correction of shock and cerebral edema (buildup of fluid around the brain) and prevention or treatment of delayed complications such as renal failure.

Field treatment of hyperthermia (heat prostration) is basically limited to the immediate cooling down of the dog. The primary goal should be to lower the dog's temp. rapidly to 103 deg. Fahrenheit with 10 minutes. Several techniques can be used. First, move the dog to a cool area (in the shade or air-conditioned environment). Immerse the dog in COOL water not COLD. Another is to give the dog an alcohol bath (isopropyl alcohol - this means NO SMOKING). Alcohol will evaporate quickly and this evaporative effect will help to cool the dog down. Apply the alcohol to the dog's groin and axillary (armpit) areas. Another good area to apply the alcohol to is the footpads. Use of a fan will enhance the evaporative cooling process. Wrapping the dog in a towel and then packing around him with ice packs can also be used. Concentrate the ice packs in the abdominal area. Once the body temperature reaches 103 deg. Fahrenheit, moderate the treatment accordingly and try to lower the temperature farther at a rate of approximately 1degree per hour. Do not attempt to lower the temperature too rapidly or Hypothermia could occur.

If you are unable to lower the temperature to 103 deg. Fahrenheit within the first 10 minutes, you should be seeking veterinary care immediately. Use of ice water baths and cold water enemas should be employed only if the hyperthermia is unresponsive to previous therapy. A cold water enema can be given with the type of water/enema bottle combinations that can be purchased at many local pharmacies and stores like Wal Mart or K Mart. Be sure when giving an enema that you let the water flow by gravity only. Don't attempt to force the water in the dog's rectum too rapidly.

If ice water baths or cold water enemas are required to lower the temperature, one should be seeking additional veterinary care as soon as possible. Appropriate IV therapy with multiple electrolyte solutions and short-acting corticosteroid therapy will probably then be administered for shock and to combat potential renal (kidney) and cerebral edema complications.

A field emergency kit for the treatment of heat prostration should consist of but may not be limited to the following:

1. A digital rectal thermometer. 2. Isopropyl Alcohol 3. Sponges or cotton balls to administer the alcohol with. Saturate the sponges or cotton balls with the alcohol and then squeeze it over the footpads, groin and axillary areas. 4. A combination enema/water bottle kit. The water bottle can also be filled with cold water and packed against the dog's abdomen or can be filled with cool water and used to give the dog an enema. 5. Cold packs that can be activated by squeezing. These can be used to pack around the dog or even put in water if the hyperthermia is not responsive to more moderate treatments and an ice water bath is needed.

Prevention of heat prostration is not always easy to achieve when working your dog in extreme temperatures especially when dealing with dogs like retrievers who possess so much drive and desire. Watch your dog closely for changes in attitude such as restlessness and anxiety, or lack of drive. Excessive panting or salivating. Cool it down often when working in extreme temperatures. I recommend using electrolyte solutions for drinking water when working the dogs in extreme temperatures. Several electrolyte mixtures (Electramine, K-9 Bluelite, and Pedia-Sorb) are available for canines and usually come in small pouches that can be mixed with water. Mix the solution appropriately and freeze in ice cube trays and then periodically offer the dog water with the electrolyte ice cubes added to its drinking water or just give them the electrolyte ice cubes to lick on. Another good idea is to put ice packs of some kind in the dog's crates for them to lie on and cool off during brief but regular breaks when training. Make sure the dog has access to cool water to drink. Keep the dogs, when crated, in the shade and don't forget to check on them periodically. I helped treat a dog at a hunt test once for heat prostration. The dog had finished its test almost an hour earlier and had been crated. The owner left the test area and came to the central meeting place and when he checked on the dog it was in severe trouble. Fortunately, we were able to effectively treat the dog after giving it a cold water enema and corticosteroid therapy when more moderate cooling treatments were ineffective. The dog received his HRCH title that day also. Talk about a grateful owner.

Hope this helps.


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I am sorry to say that someone I know had a dog pass away this weekend after a day of dove hunting.

PLEASE, keep a careful eye on your friend in the early parts of this hunting season.

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DB...sorry to hear that. Hopefully this info will help a few prevent that from happening.

I have heard of one that went down while dove hunting also, but it sounds like it will pull through. The vets believe they cooled the dog quick enough to make a difference in the dogs outcome.

Carry a thermometer and don't be afraid to use it. I also carry a bottle of isopropyl alcohol just in case....along with the normal supply of water.

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Heat stroke and exhaustion should be addressed.

Thank you 311Hemi for sharing your knowledge.

I would like to add, I'm sure most all owners of bird dogs know this, before taking your dog out on his/her first hunt take them out on field excursions, let them get acclimated to the pressures of the field. This goes along way to preventing heat stroke or exhaustion though it does not prevent it.

I ounce had a very close call with a chocolate lab while trap shooting. Luckily I had a cold building with a cold concrete floor and cold water to retreat to.

Our best friend suffering from heat exhaustion is got to be one of the most helpless feelings an owner can go through.

Let us all be vigilant in recognising signs of stress of our palls running in front of us.

Duckbuster my condolances go to your friend.

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THANKS guys.

Also, one thing to mention, make sure you DO NOT cool them down to much. Meaning don't go well past normal. You can cool them to a point where you will start to shut down the internal organs.


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  • 9 months later...

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