Heat Stroke and Summer Retriever Training


Summer is here! It’s time for beach bumming, suns out guns out, coronas with lime, backyard barbecues, and bad tan lines. It can also be one of the most dangerous times to be out training our dogs and running hunt test and field trials! 

Just because it is hot out, it doesn’t mean we have to stop working our dogs. It just means we need to be careful! 

Hyperthermia or Heat Stroke is no laughing matter and it can turn a fun training session into a nightmare quickly. Dogs naturally cool themselves down through panting but this process can’t keep them cool when they are working hard in the heat. Normal body temperature for a dog is approximately 101 to 102 degrees Fahrenheit. As their core body temperature increases, so does your risk for heat exhaustion and heat stroke. If a dog’s body temperature reaches 106 degrees Fahrenheit, you’re in the danger zone! 

Here are a few signs of Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke:

  • Heavy/ Rapid panting
  • Bright red tongue
  • Red or pale gums
  • Thick saliva
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Weakness and the appearance of dizziness

If your dog shows these signs, here is what you should do:

  • Wet the dog down and get them in the shade or a cooler location
  • If available place a fan on the dog
  • Offer water but never “force feed” them water
  • Keep a close eye on them and call your vet

*** An important side note: Do not offer your dog ice water or cool them down with ice water. Cooling them down too quickly can have extremely negative effects and cause other life-threatening medical conditions. ***

Here are some things to keep in mind this summer during your retriever training sessions:

  • Keep your training sessions short
  • Train during the coolest parts of the day- morning and evening
  • Watch your dog’s behavior and body language. Are they acting differently? Watch for excessive panting, walking awkwardly, lacking interest in the activities, etc.
  • Obese dogs are more prone to heat exhaustion, keep your dog physically fit
  • Avoid places like the beach with hot sand and no shade, avoid long walks on pavement. Place your hand on the asphalt and keep there for 10 seconds. If you can’t stand it, why should your dog?

Our dogs are our family members, hunting companions, and training partners. Keep their health and well-being in mind this summer!

If you found this article helpful, please share it with your close family and friends. You never know, it may save a dog’s life this summer!

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