Working dogs in the heat
This was written by a friend of mine who spent years working as an emergency vet tech and treated many dogs for heat stroke. very good information
Heat stroke and heat exhaustion is something all K9 handlers must be knowledgeable about. Its not simply seeing that your dog is panting and/or lethargic, but knowing the resting, as well as working temperature of Your dog and what to do in the case of heat stroke/exhaustion. Heat stroke can kill any dog if not treated immediately an aggressively.
"Once the heat stroke occurs, damage to the dog’s muscles, organs, and metabolic processes can occur. Heat stroke in dogs is a potentially life threatening condition that requires immediate medical treatment."
Normal temperature for dogs is 100 to 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit.
Mucus membranes (gum color) should be pink and moist, not red or dark pink (injected) or pale/white. Pressing your finger against the guns and timing how long it takes for the color to return is called capillary refill time.. Normal CRT is 1.5 to 2 seconds. Anything longer or shorter, take note.
Also knowing your dogs resting and working heart rate (HR) is important when working in hot temperatures. a fast, thready pulse or a slow, weak pulse are also signs something is not right.
Know your dogs resting temperature and working temperature. Not all dogs will run at the same temp, your dog may run higher or lower than anyone else, but if you don't know whats normal, you won't know when something is wrong.
If your dog has a rectal temperature higher than 1 degree over its normal working temp, the dog should be rested and cooled until a normal temp has been reached, the dog is properly hydrated, rested and ready for work.
If you think your dog is having a heat related issue, take a rectal temp. This takes moments and can help you avoid the condition worsening.
Cooling your dog: NEVER use ice water or even cold water (even to drink) to cool down your dog. Instead, use tepid or room temperature water. Depending on how hot your dog is, you can pour the water over the dog and use a fan (if available) focusing on the pads of the feet, the inguinal (inner thigh for male and female... testicle area for males) and neck (jugular area). Dogs do not have sweat glands remember and those areas have the largest blood vessels that when cooled will help the dogs internal temperature decrease. Take the temp every 5 minutes while cooling is going on and get your K9 to a vet ASAP.
Stop all cooling measure when the dogs rectal temp reaches 103.5, dry the dog off and continue to monitor the dogs temperature every 10 minutes to make sure that the dog does not become hypo-thermic (too cool). The dogs body will continue to cool on its own, you do not want the dogs temperature to drop below 100 degree F. If this happens, wrap the dog in blankets and get the dog to the vet ASAP.
Dogs can take on various symptoms of hyperthermia, from excessive panting, drooling and foaming at the mouth, to aggitation, barking, muscle tremors (ataxia) breathing difficulties, collapse, seizures, diarrhea, lethargy and ultimatley death. Heat stroke is not something to play around with, take measures to cool your dog down while en route to the vet.