We’ve all experienced those lovely summer days here in the Midwest when it’s so hot outside that you could fry an egg on the pavement. Those days can take the outdoor exuberance out of even the hardiest human adventurers. A matter of minutes outside and we’re dripping sweat looking for the nearest body of water to cool off in.
Let’s take a moment to compare humans and our four-legged canine friends…
The average body temperature of a human is 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. Our dogs generally stay in the 100.5 to 102.5 degree area depending on their level of activity, breed, and body composition. This might not seem like a big deal until you consider the following.
Humans happen to have an elaborate system where we perspire through glands all over our bodies that evaporates causing a cooling effect in our bodies. Dogs are not as lucky as we are. Their main form of cooling exists in their mouths. Canine physiology allows our furry friends to increase blood flow to their tongues and then to breathe in an accelerated fashion causing the same kind of evaporation and cooling effect humans experience. They also perspire a small amount through the pads of their feet. As you can imagine this leads dogs to have pretty inefficient cooling systems.
Now imagine for a minute; you’re out with your friends on a hunt. Sure, maybe you walk three to four miles in long afternoon of hunting. Recent research shows that even the modest of our canine companions are traveling upwards of 15 to 25 miles in this time often at high speeds and levels of effort to produce you a bird.
What does this boil down to you ask? How hot is too hot for our canine athletes? Well, in most cases any time the temperature breaches 50 degrees while hunting or running your dogs in other activities you need to begin monitoring them for signs of heat exhaustion. You also need to spend more time hydrating them and ensuring they aren’t under dangerous levels of stress. I am not by any means advocating that you do not work your dogs above this temperature. We as the caretakers of these animals just need to be more vigilant and more prepared in these conditions. You bring water/pop/coffee for yourself to drink. You bring layers of clothes. Why not spend a few minutes making sure you have what you need to keep your dog safe and healthy as well? When summer rolls around and that 90 degree heat hits again please keep this in mind. On hot summer days it can be as few as three to five minutes before the effects of heat exhaustion start to set in. In the coming weeks we’ll be developing information related to canine hydration, care, and stress management to give you some information about what to look for and what you can do to make sure you aren’t “that guy” who loses his dog because he was unprepared to care for his four-legged family member in the heat.