As a Pro Trainer in Texas with an always hot dove season I receive numerous stories from friends and clients about the heat stroke in working dogs. A few years ago I developed a sermon I preach to any of our CCR dogs going home and this is what it entails.
First I'd like to cover conditioning: Consider that in Texas dove season opens Septemter 1st with temps ranging in the 90's by 10 a.m. If your dog has been siting in the a/c all summer he is not accustomed to the heat. (Think of the feeling you get when you step out of the cool into the heat) even if your dog is kept outside he still needs exercise. Now, I'm not saying throw your dog outside all day in the heat or train at the hottest time of the day. Proper conditioning includes running marks and maybe a few blinds in the am or late evening (prime hunting times) you can even take him for walks or runs early and late during the week. Make no mistake gun dogs are athletes and must be kept in condition to preform properly. If your not sure what to do in a training aspect of throwing marks contact your local pro (most will allow you to come train for a morning) or join a local retriever club with like minded people that like to help. If you are busy and short on time most pros offer pre season tune ups.
Next, lets discuss the signs of heat exhaustion. Early signs can be but not limited to, heavy panting, deep red gums, swelling or curling of tongue, as symptoms worsen you might see swelling of gums, excessive drooling, panting with more of a rasping gasping sound. When you see any of these its time to take action immediately. If you see the dog start to stumble, lay down, or collapse the situation went from dangerous to critical! Ok, so what do you do??? If you see signs first response should be shade and water, let them drink, and rest most early cases this is plenty, if dog can't cool down start wetting them down with ice chest water, head , behind ears, pits, and paws, alcohol is always colder than water (keep that in mind, rubbing or drinkable) put them in the front seat and blow the a/c. If you see severe symptoms do the above and rush to the vet! Keep in mind this is deadly and deadly fast, most people don't realize however that even a mild heat stroke causes side affects. Major organ damage can occur a few days later, and dogs with a significant heat stroke become more prone to them in the future. Another thing to keep in mind a stock tank in Texas in September is likely 80 degrees, not much of a cool off! I hope this helps you and your hunting buddy stay safe and better enjoy your hunting adventures.
Written By: Professional Dog Trainer JC Strange
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