Keeping Your Dog Cool
- It helps when clubs provide a few wading pools at hot trials for people to submerge their dogs before or after runs.
- Wet down the dog's belly, and/or keep the top cool with a cool coat (a terry cloth towel material with straps, etc., to keep in on the dog).
- Use a wire crate, in full shade, and turn the wire pan in the crate upside down and put ice packs under the pan. This keeps the dog lying on a cool surface.
It is all right to pour water directly on the dog as long as you don't pour cold water on the head of a dog who might be heading for heat stroke -- can cause brain damage! If a dog should get to the heat stroke stage, plain rubbing alcohol works better than water to cool the body. Again -- not on the head, but pouring it on the body. You need a lot of it, so this might not be practical.
Here are ways to help your dog stay cool during hot weather at trials.
A "cooling arsenal" consisting of:
- 14 lbs. (2 bags) of ice in an ice chest
- a garden sprayer
- a small spray bottle
- a white t-shirt (dog size)
- a gel-filled cooling coat for the dog
- a towel
and of course, shade. Even if you use a tent or canopy try whenever possible to put it up under natural shade (i.e. trees), even if this means being a long way from the ring, because it is quite clear that natural shade stays cooler than artificial shade.
Overheating can certainly can affect the dog's performance; remember that dogs, because they can only cool by panting, not by sweating, are more sensitive to heat than you are. Also, if the temperature is higher than the dog's body temperature (around 100) OR the dog is in the sun, a SMALL dog will generally suffer more than a LARGE dog (this has to do with the volume to surface area ratio effect). Keeping the dog cool has two parts: keeping him generally cool throughout the day, and cooling him just prior to a run. To achieve the former, keep him in the shade, lying on grass (which is cooler than the mats we like to haul around) or on a wet towel and wearing his cooling coat. Yes, it sort of works. Alternatively he wears his white t-shirt which you can keep wet by spraying it with the garden sprayer (filled with ice water) whenever it dries out. If he goes out in the sun he wears the wet white t-shirt rather than the cooling coat. If he really seems to be getting too hot (excessive, unrelieved panting) rub him down with ice cubes or soak the towel in ice water and cover him with that. If there is a hose or wading pool available take him to it frequently to be wetted completely. If you are not set up under natural shade and it is getting too hot under artificial shade, take the dog and find some natural shade and sit there with him, if at all possible.
When it is time to prepare for a run, remove the coat or t-shirt and wet him as thoroughly as possible (with sprayer or hose) and then put ice water (out of the cooler) into the small spray bottle. Carry that with you up to the starting area, where you wet him down again, mostly on the chest and belly, shortly before entering the ring. This will occasionally backfire on you. If you get him too wet he might stop to shake or roll on the course. You have to know how much wet your dog will take!
A battery operated fan in the crate or pen would be good as well.
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