We're having a heat wave, A tropical heat wave, The temperature's rising, It isn't surprising... "Heat Wave," Irving Berlin
IT'S MID-JUNE as I write this and for the past month or more, much of the country has been experiencing record-breaking temperatures. I live in Iowa, where we know the summer is going to be hot, but we started hitting the mid-to upper 90s with corresponding high humidity--what Iowans call "state fair weather"--back in May...and the state fair takes place in August.
In other words, we're undergoing one heckuva hot summer here in the Hawkeye State, and many of you probably are, as well. I'm not a meteorologist but if I had to make a prediction, I'd bet the opening days of many of our bird seasons are going to be hot.
Which means that, eagerness notwithstanding, we need to take extra precautions, both for ourselves and for our dogs. We've occasionally run articles on heat stress in dogs, but the warning signs bear repeating. If your dog starts acting disoriented or wobbly, with lolling tongue, glassy eyes and pale gums, you need to get him or her cooled down right now.
Probably the best way to do this is to submerge your dog in shallow, cool water. (Obviously, keep your dog's head above the water.) Unfortunately, this kind of water is not always readily available when you're afield--for example, many stock ponds or "tanks" will be stagnant and bathwater-warm by late summer and early fall. Running water--a creek, stream or small river--may be a better choice, but only if you and your dog can enter it safely.
Another option is to wet down your dog's belly with cool water--say, the drinking water you've been carrying in your vest. And mat's a reminder of those all-important three words: hydration, hydration, hydration. Both you and your dog must keep hydrated on hot days; most dogs can be trained without too much trouble to drink from a water bottle and it's an essential practice if you're going to be hunting in hot weather in areas where potable water is scarce.
If you can get your dog back to your vehicle and into some air conditioning, so much the better. While some folks advise against applying ice to cool a dog, Dr. John Holcomb, our "Veterinary Clinic" columnist, says, "I'm not afraid of using ice, especially when the dog is in very bad shape. Check the dog's temperature to know how bad it is, and if it's over 107 you better get real serious because they aren't helping themselves anymore. Evaporation matters so keep air moving over them, as their temperature can keep rising because they can't circulate their blood well enough to cool themselves."
Of course, the old saying about an ounce of prevention being worth a pound of cure holds true here also--it's far better to quit hunting before your dog (or you) begin experiencing any of the symptoms of heat stress.
All of us at GUN DOG wish you and your dogs a safe and enjoyable hunting season...and as Sgt. Phil Esterhaus used to say on Hill Street Blues, "Let's be careful out there."
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|Title Annotation:||Passing Shots / From the Editor|
|Author:||Van Etten, Rick|
|Date:||Sep 1, 2018|
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