High temperatures & humidity can be a real killer...

When the temperature soars and it feels like 85 degrees in the shade, don't forget your dog. You may be able to stay cool in a t-shirts and shorts, but your dog can't change into something cool. Common sense and a few simple steps can save their lives and make hot weather competing worth the trip.

Hot Tips

Now that the good weather has arrived, we thought we would like to share some good advice from the nice people at Little Revel End© to keep your dog as happy in the sun as their humans.

  • Sunday aftgernoon - Jenny HoltWalk early or late in the day, keeping to the shade where possible.

  • Avoid walking on pavements. They absorb heat and can burn your dogís feet. Walk on the grass instead.

  • Donít forget to carry water with you or walk near a natural water source.

  • Cool coats and cooling mats are useful for dogs that over heat easily or are outside in the warmest part of the day.

  • Paddling pools and fans are a great way of keeping your dog cool at home, and providing them with amusement when it is too hot for a walk!

  • Keep your dog fit! Dogs that are overweight or unfit will find the heat much more difficult.

  • Long and wire-haired dogs may benefit from grooming to keep them cool.

  • Make an ice lolly for your dog! Freeze a tub of water and add your dogs favourite treats, chews and toys in it! You can also freeze toys such as Kongs for your dog - and it keeps them busy, too!

Golden rules - What to Avoid

  1. Never, never never leave your dog in the car in the hot sun with the windows rolled up or even just open a crack. A vehicle can quickly heat up to well over 100 degrees in less than five minutes.

  2. Be careful on hot pavements. A pavement that can fry an egg can be detrimental to your dog's paws.
  3. If you like to take your dogs for walks or go biking, avoid the high heat of the day. Take an early morning or very late evening walk.
  4. If your dogs is outside, provide plenty of accessible fresh cool water. When the temperature reaches the 90s, bring the dog indoors. A cool, well-ventilated garage or basement is a viable option.

Hot Hot Hot Dogs

In Pitfalls of Summer Heat (AKC Home Page), veterinarian Joel Fisher suggests these symptoms to look for in a dog that may be suffering from heat distress.

Early Stages

  • Heavy panting
  • Rapid breathing
  • Excessive drooling
  • Bright red gums and tongue
  • May be standing four square, posting or spreading out, trying to maintain balance

Advanced Stages

  • Gums may be white or blue
  • Lies down, unwilling to move
  • May defecate or urinate uncontrollably
  • Difficult and noisy breathing
  • Shock

Anyone with a dog displaying early signs of heat distress or heat stroke should contact a veterinarian. Then immediately begin cooling down the dog by doing the following things:-

  • Give the dog small doses of water to drink and, if available, ice chips to lick
  • Cool the dog by hosing and sponging with cold water
  • Apply ice packs all over the body, with special attention to the head and chest
  • Mix four tablespoons glucose with one pint (500ml.) of water. Give 4 oz. (100ml) of the solution for small dogs and up to one pint (500ml) for large dogs.
  • Apply rubbing alcohol onto dog's paw pads

For a cool treat, give your dog homemade pupsicles. They're healthy and easy to make. All you need is a healthy salt and sugar-free flavouring, an ice cube container, water, a freezer and The Canine Cook.

Prevention is the best cure...  

  • Any time you travel with your dog, take your own shade
  • Invest in a reflective blanket for your windscreen as well as breathable sunblock tarps
  • Always have plenty of fresh water and a water bowl on hand
  • Consider carrying a battery operated fan
  • Take towels or wet blankets for your dog
  • Have an ice chest packed with ice and/or ice packs
  • Keep a spray bottle with cold water on hand to spray on your dog to keep it cooled down
  • Freeze water in two litre soft drink bottles which can be placed in a dogs kennel
  • Keep two sets of car keys with you at all times. Then if you lose one set you will always have another
  • Never leave a caravan, can or truck completely shut up. Keep a window or door partially open
  • Use sunblock on the noses and tips of ears of dogs with lighter coats and skin colours
  • Be especially vigilant with breeds with heavy coats (Beardies, Poodles, Chows, Alaskan Malamutes etc) and brachycephalic dogs (King Charles Spaniels, boxers, etc). Make sure the latter have clear airways, not obstructed by phlegm or saliva

Heat stroke is not just a summer problem. It can happen anytime. For more information about what to look out for and what to do if ever you are unfortunate enough to come across it, see Dr. Henry de Boer's article on Heat Stroke.

Tips on Keeping Cool

Here are some suggestions for those of us working dogs in the heat as overheard on the Internet. Thanks to everyone for permission to use their comments and to those who sent photos of their dogs, just so we know who they are.

Those pump and spray garden bottles are an excellent way to wet your dog. They can hold like two gallons. You can mist or soak them down.

Some dogs are stress drinkers and some dogs drink less when under stress. If your dog drinks less or doesn't eat well when stressed (dogs with decreased appetites often do not drink well), try some of these things:

  • Take Gatorade, not so much for the electrolytes as for the taste, and/or beef or chicken broth with you to encourage your dog to drink. Some dogs like the broth even if it's watered down.
  • You can also try adding baby food to water to encourage drinking.
  • Pack a turkey baster or sport bottle with you in case you need to force a little water in.
  • You can place cold packs under the armpits and in the groin regions of overheated dogs to help cool them down. (Don't ice the paws -- the dog will just shut down the blood supply to them!)
  • Keep rubbing alcohol in your emergency kit. In a pinch, you can soak a dog's paws in it for the evaporative cooling effect!
  • Add ice cubes or hard sided ice packs to water dishes. Some dogs will eat ice cubes even when they don't want to drink!
  • Keep your dog in the shade as much as possible. If you are keeping him in a cage, make sure it is entirely shaded.

Brenda Mills, DVM (USA)


PembreyI have one dog that does not handle heat at all well, so when I can't climate control her environment entirely. I always carry baby food (chicken or beef with no added salt or sugar) and Pedialyte.

The baby food is great because you can buy it at any grocery store when you are travelling, and until you open it you don't need to refrigerate it. Generally, if I just mix some of it into her water, she will drink enough. (One of her biggest problems is that she stops drinking when it is hot). I generally use the Pedialyte only if she has had diarrhoea and I still have to use the baby food in order to tempt her into drinking it. It's pretty blah - I tried it!.
Lynell Dewey

Pembrey (Hot Dawg!) & Tahmo (I don't know what HER problem is, I'm the one with all the hair!) (USA) You can purchase a two gallon lawn sprayer, fill it with ice water and when you get to the destination you will be able to spray dog down completely ,and of course you can take this right to the ring entrance.

Small fans can be purchased at an auto parts store. Just get one that runs off of 12 volt power and has a plug for a cigarette lighter. You'll find these fans have more power than the one's that run off of traditional 'D' or 'C' batteries.
Joy Elliott

On those hot days I take a two gallon garden sprayer with me to all the agility trials and to training. It last the day and it is a great stress reliever for my dogs as they like to chase the spray. This is in addition to the drinking water I take for them. I don't like to chill the dogs drinking water since I saw a dog get sick from drinking chilled drinking water too quickly. I never try to soak my dogs through. I feel that the sun will just warm up the water in the dogs coat and make them hotter. I use the garden sprayer to soak their groin area and their foot pads. Also most all of the trials around here provide kids swimming pools full of water to cool the dogs off.
Joy Brunton

Pembrey Keeping my dog cool this year has been a challenge because it has been so hot and dry here in Central New York. The other part of the challenge is that I have a standard poodle in full coat. When I use a mister, I can only mist the bare skin at the rear of the dog and the groin area. Of course, one the best places to mist to cool the dog off is the bottom of the feet. In addition, to ice packs between the legs, I have used a frozen wet wash cloth, which can also be applied to the back of a human neck or wherever.

For myself, I freeze a bottle of water or whatever and take it out the morning of a show and I have cool fresh water all day.
Holly & Dave Staelens

I bought a small hand held sprayer with a pump which you can buy in a garden centre. It's probably a quart to half gallon in size. I always keep it filled and in the refrigerator. It's ready whenever I need it. I take it with me when we go walk, to agility class, trials, etc. I think it works better than the usual sprayer and seems to last two large dogs all day.

Granted I do have greyhounds who aren't too difficult, but I run my fingers through the hair backwards, so that I'm getting some of the mist to the skin. I also go for the areas with least amount of hair like on the belly and inside of the thighs. Large veins run through the neck (jugular) and the inside of thighs, so I really try to concentrate on those areas. But it is important to get down to the skin.
Jen Lawson

One other interesting piece of information came out of the studies that were done to keep the horses safe during the Olympics in Atlanta was the necessity to scrape the water off the horses after hosing them down. Even with short hair, if the water was applied liberally and left to drip dry, it quickly heated up from the body temperature and then became an insulating blanket. Probably not as much a worry for our doggie friends who are so good at shaking, but it might be a consideration for some of the longer haired dogs.
Mary Ann Eustis

Actually you make a very good point. This is the exact reason I do not wet down my Samoyeds. The air trapped in the coat insulates them from the heat better than it would if they were wet. The wet coat causes a humidity problem, and they can mildew if they remain wet too long. I do provide coolpads and have wet their pads and bellies and actually their ears.

There is a new product out made by APRL called Workout and it is just for those occasions when it is hot and your dog is working. You give them some about an hour before your competition and then a small drink about ten minutes before and then a small amount about 15 minutes after. The stuff tastes great so almost all dogs will drink it, and it seems to keep them hydrated and they seem to recover much quicker and have more energy during and after their runs.
Jody Potter

I have a Beardie who is 9 1/2 years old and primarily black and in full coat. She is slow-ish at agility but she loves it. I keep her in the shade until really close to time to run. I put a white (doesn't absorb heat) T-shirt on her, thoroughly wet it down so that the heat from the sun goes into evaporating the water rather than in heating her up. I use a frozen bottle of water to cool her undersides, 'armpits', ears and such before going in the ring and before that I soak her in the kiddie pool. (I did learn the hard way to make sure she has time to shake some of the water off!)
Helix Fairweather

Both my dogs really like that new gel-like cool pad I noticed for the first time last year. You fill it with water, and the special material inside holds the water. You never have to drain it. And it doesn't feel wet (my dogs won't lay on those wet cool mats), and it's nice and soft like a cushion. The Canine Cooler bed is available from http://www.dogbedworks.com/
Mary Ellen LeGates

I understand that some dogs and people handle the heat much better than me and my dogs, and to be honest one of my dogs handles it better than the rest of my family, but I feel that running a dog in this high heat and humidity who is clearly uncomfortable and suffering, is the same as, say, running that dog when they have an injury in their leg or something.

We have already lost money on trials we arrived at and it was too hot, and lost going to trials, because the heat and humidity is so crazy this year. I hope everyone will consider whether it is not downright cruel to run a dog on days like that. Before you jump down my throat, let me again say that I have seen some dogs that evidently do not mind as much, very short coats, whatever. I am talking about those that are clearly not having a good time, certainly not having fun, and obviously suffering.
Barbara Rogers

Pitfalls of Summer Heat, American Kennel Club Home page (http://www.akc.org/heat.htm)
A-Z of Dog Care by Stephen Schneck with Nigel Norris BVSc MRCVS (Coronet Books)
Pictures: 365 Day Calendar (Workman Publishing)


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