Hard Core hunters don’t take days off, and neither do their companions. Just because the temperature is on the rise doesn’t mean dog training has to stop. However, you’ve got to make sure you’re taking the necessary precautions to keep your best hunting buddy safe and healthy.
Get started by taking your dog to the veterinarian for a check-up. Make sure your dog gets tested for heartworm and ensure that all of his or her shots are up to date. It doesn’t hurt to ask your vet about flea and tick medications too. My dog has a serious allergy to fleas so I am constantly looking for the best medicine to keep her from having a problem.
Dogs get dehydrated quickly, so give them plenty of fresh, clean water during all activities and make sure they can get to water at all times when home too. Having access to shade is very important too.
Symptoms of overheating in dogs include excessive panting or difficulty breathing, increased heart and respiratory rate, drooling, mild weakness, stupor, or even collapse. Overheating issues can show up as seizures, bloody diarrhea, and vomit along with an elevated body temperature of over 104 degrees. Just like us humans, older dogs and/or overweight dogs should be kept cool in air-conditioned rooms as much as possible.
Watch the water
Taking the dog to the lake for training sounds like fun and it is for both of you, but remember, even though there’s plenty of water for the dog to drink, the dog can get worn out pretty quick in the heat. Plus, the water will still let the sun beat down on your dog’s body.
Keep training schedules brief and make retrieves shorter if possible. Your dog will retrieve until the cows come home, but it’s not worth it to jeopardize its health just for the sake of another run. Instead, train several times throughout the day, or maybe go out an extra day.
Stay home or stay with the dog
I know this goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway. Never, ever leave your dog alone in a parked vehicle. On a hot day, a parked car can reach lethal temperatures in no time even with the windows open, which can lead to fatal heat stroke. In some states, it is illegal to leave your dog in a car. If I’m around, you might just find a busted window when you come back out. Seriously people, don’t be a jerk!
You can trim longer hair on your dog, but never shave your dog. The layers of dogs’ coats protect them from overheating and sunburn. If you use sunscreen on your dog or insect repellent, make sure it is safe for animals. I stick to a ThermaCELL when I can and I keep Kenai out of the sun as much as possible.
When the temperature is high, be careful when walking the dog on the road or sidewalk. Being so close the ground, the dog’s body can heat up quickly. Just like how you don’t want to walk barefoot on hot sand, paw pads can get burnt. Keep walks during these times to a minimum.
As I write this, we just celebrated the Fourth of July. I love that holiday and celebrating our nation’s independence. But with that comes fireworks. You want to spoil a good hunting dog fast? Let it get the crap scared out of it by exposure to loud, repeated explosions and lots of people. There is so much confusion going on at a typical Fourth of July celebration, that it is better to leave your trusted hunting buddy at home, resting in the comforts of its crate or whatever, with the air conditioning going. The same goes for a lot of summer festivities. I see lots of high temperatures across the country on the news each day. Keep your dog’s health in mind when you plan summer trips too. After all, they’re part of the family as well as your best hunting buddy!
It’s Not Easy!
Images by Derrek Sigler