• This is an articled I cut and pasted from BRAT Chat

    I have received some requests to repost my cooling article. So here it
    is with a few edits from the last copy. Enjoy, feel free to repost and copy.

    Avoiding Heat Related Injuries in Dogs
    Nate Baxter DVM

    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 intravenous fluids and electrolytes and lots of it.


    Evaporative cooling is the most efficient means 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 with the skin. 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 is 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.


    I do carry it for emergiencies. 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 that you soak in cold water, 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 you 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 105.5, 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, mixed with 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 itself
    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 demonstrated this
    lesson this spring with my 10 monthold pup. After doing a 15 minute
    session in yard drill on a warm 70+ degree day, she was panting pretty
    hard and was pretty hot. She was OK but it was time to stop. Just for
    the heck of it I took her temp. She was 103.6, above normal but too bad
    for a dog that had just finished working. In my back yard I have a 300
    gallon Rubbermaid tub filled with water. I took her to it and she jumped
    in and out 3-4 times. She appeared totally improved, tongue was much
    smaller, and eyes brighter and her full spring was back into her step.
    So I re-took her temp and it was 104.2, so even though she looked better
    she was hotter. This is a perfect lesson to show not get a hot dog wet
    and then put them in a box. The water on her skin caused the blood
    vessels to constrict, decreasing blood flow to the skin. Therefore the
    hot blood was shunted back to the dog's core and retained the heat. You
    may have felt the same thing, after exercising but still being very
    warm, take a shower and get cooled off but as soon as you turn the
    shower off you start sweating again.

    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.

    Nate Baxter, DVM
    Lebanon, OH

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