Canine Heat Stroke- BE CAREFUL - Utah Wildlife Network

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Old 11-11-2020, 12:48 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Canine Heat Stroke- BE CAREFUL

I dang near lost my dog this weekend. My dad, his buddy, and two nephews came out to hunt pheasants this past weekend. The weather was forecast to be warm, not optimal, but the timing was what it was.

Temps were forecast to be in the low 70's for a high, with cooler mornings, no wind, and bluebird skies. Not the best conditions to get roosters to hold. We started a property I have permission to hunt that usually holds great numbers of birds. It is a half section that has 4 main tree rows along it. It is divided in half from a divorce, but usually is very good.

First tree row pushed birds out long. Dog ran a lot and didn't hunt much- kind of typical for an almost 3 year old dog. He started to get hot and thirsty so we gave the dogs a drink of water and rested them a bit before the second tree row. WE came down that tree row and he was panting good, but started to hunt. Jumped a rooster and hit it, but it went down in the previous tree row. Went after it as it was wounded. Dog just ran around. It was not hot by any stretch.

At that point, his breathing started to change to a wheeze/snore. He was laboring more to breath and heavy panting. I decided I would let him rest in the shade of the third tree row. He kept panting. I decided I'd have my son drive down the field to put him in the dog box to rest him more and get him water. He didn't drink and jumped in the box. We came down to the last tree row and I let them out to block. I figured i"d just rest with George. I let him out, but he was wobbly and his back end wouldn't work. He couldn't stand up. At that point, I let the rest block and threw George in the truck and headed towards a vet fast. 1st Vet wasn't available working cattle. 2nd Vet, same. Brought him home and wet him down, put ice packs around him, and a wet towel. He continued to decline to the point of just laying there panting with no control of his body. He laid there eyes glazed in the kitchen. He'd thrown up a couple of times.

I called the last vet in town (he is more of a large animal vet) and he happened to be in the office. I ran him right down. He was continuing to deteriorate and I was nervous I'd lose him.

Vet got him on the table and took a temp 105.9. Yikes! 104 is dangerously high. We began to work on him and the vet said put 70/30 alchol on gauze pads and rub his foot pads and any exposed skin. We started to do that and in 40 minutes his temperature had come down 2 degrees. He had to go work critters and I asked the vet if there was anything more he could do. He said not really so I took him home. He barfed all over the kitchen and so we brought him outside to rest. He started coming back a bit on Friday and he perked up. I gave him water and tried a piece of jerky which he quickly ate.

He threw up before I went to bed on Friday night and i cleaned it up. He puked again that night sometime but I didn't hear it. I woke up and could certainly smell it though, YUCK.

Saturday we left him at home and just let him rest. He gained more energy as I fed him chicken broth to keep him hydrated and some nutrition. Saturday night he was pretty good. He even would go grab a pheasant we had shot and brought it back to me in the yard. He had thrown up some blood Saturdy while we were gone but his energy levels seemed good. I gave him a handful of food Saturday afternoon and watched how he'd done. He didn't throw it up, but had thrown up more blood and had a bloody poop. I was nervous about this as that isn't a good sign- and heat stroke can cause dogs to not coagulate blood and hemorrage internally.

I left him out Saturday night so he didn't barf all over the kitchen. I went out to check on him before I had to go to church meetings at 7:00. I opened the run and he was walking hunched up and wouldn't hold weight on his right hind leg, but he didn't have much strength in either. He looked like a gut shot deer. He didn't have the energy he did the day before. He'd had more bloody poop, but not puke. I gave him some pumpkin Saturday evening because that can calm a dog's stomach down quite well.

He did walk on it a bit, and peed. But he was clearly uncomfortable. I had to go to church, so my 15 year son stayed home with him and he just didn't look good. Sad and hurt eyes. I had run out of chicken broth so I went to the store to get some pedialyte, gatororate (clear), and beef broth. He didn't care for pedialyte. He loved PowerAde, and drank a lot of beef broth. He was slow to get up and slow to move most of the day. He fell out of the doorway to get down the stairs about 7:00 in the evening as I took him out to pee (or poop). He started walking a bit better and walked up the stairs and laid down on his own. At 9:30 or so, I let him out and he got himself up and went down the stairs. He had more energy as we walked around the yard. I went out to the front yard and he bounced up the front porch looking for food. He actually ran around in the front yard a bit, and pooped, another bloody one (dark blood, not fresh blood).

Monday morning I let him out and he ran around like nothing had happened. I fed him a little bit more kibble and watched. No issues. It snowed Monday night a couple of inches and when I let him out, he pooped again. Getting normal. Who knew I would be so interested in his poop? I normally am just mad it's there and my son hasn't scooped it.

Tuesday he was bounding around. I gave him half his normal food ration and watched. No issues. Took him on a 2 mile walk. Nothing and blood free poop. Seems like he's back. I don't know what the long term effects could be other than susceptibility in the future.

Bottom line, heat stroke can catch up quick. He went from fine to not fine in about 15 minutes. Have some alchohol wipes handy in your kit in case something happens when it's hot. It can happen even when it's not "hot."
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Last edited by caddis8; 11-11-2020 at 02:31 PM.
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Old 11-11-2020, 01:07 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Thanks for sharing the details of what to look for. What breed of dog is it?
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Old 11-11-2020, 01:13 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Animals need to be conditioned for the hunts just like humans. If all they do is sit around the house or roam in a small yard they don't get enough exercise to build up their lungs and muscles.

Packing water for your dog is a big item that most don't think about. Along with giving the dog a break every now and then and letting them rest.
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Old 11-11-2020, 01:26 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Thanks for sharing the details of what to look for. What breed of dog is it?
He's an almost 3 year old chocolate lab.
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Old 11-11-2020, 01:27 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Animals need to be conditioned for the hunts just like humans. If all they do is sit around the house or roam in a small yard they don't get enough exercise to build up their lungs and muscles.
He gets walked at least 3 miles a day. I felt like I was prepared with water. Spooky stuff.
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Old 11-11-2020, 03:14 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Glad it looks like you were able to catch it and get your dog recovered. That is rough stuff.

Airborne, it is mostly just watching your dog and their breathing. I like to err on the side of caution and force frequent breaks when hunting in temps over 60F (every 5-10 minutes, depending on how much ground the dog covers). On those breaks/checkins if the dog is panting hard, I take additional steps vs just giving them a bit of water to drink (see below). I like to see the dog's breathing go back to normal before sending them out again.

Having beef bouillon cubes and plenty of water on hand is always a great idea when running dogs. The loss of electrolytes can really exacerbate the heat exhaustion to heat stroke quickly, and the bouillon helps a bit. Temps in the 70s and dark colored dogs in the sun tends to be a formula for a rough time (even ones that are well conditioned to heat), and you really have to watch your dog and force it to take breaks. Learning how to water your dog by pouring into its cheek will help, as often the dog doesn't want to stop hunting for trivial things like drinking water. I also like to flop their ears up on top of their head and pour cold water on the undersides of the ears (flopping them up top helps avoid getting water inside their ear), and pouring water on their bellies helps a lot too. I don't like to wet a dogs back down as that can actually seal in heat that is trying to dissipate.
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Old 11-11-2020, 04:01 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Glad it looks like you were able to catch it and get your dog recovered. That is rough stuff.
I was only hunting 10 minutes from my house. I thought I was prepared. I need to be more prepared, and more aware.
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Old 11-11-2020, 04:15 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Scary stuff, and good reminder!

Glad it worked out the way it did, caddis!
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Old 11-11-2020, 06:57 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Man that's a spooky story!! When my Lab was a 14 months old, he got overheated playing in the yard with the Grand-kids. We got him in the house and began the Gatorade treatment and laid him on his bed next to the AC vent. It took a couple hours for him to get back to normal.


I built him a insulated house using 1-1/2" rigid foam. I then cut a hole through the basement wall next to the drier vent and have that piped into his house. Heat in the winter and AC in the summer. Wife thinks I'm nuts, but I don't care.
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Old 11-11-2020, 08:11 PM   #10 (permalink)
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As a houndsman with more years than I care to remember, I've had to pack more than one hound out of a steep canyon on my shoulders after they've experienced heat stroke, particularly during the summer bear pursuit season, I've even seen some dogs die from it (though not my own). As Critter mentioned, keeping the dog in shape is the biggest preventative measure. A casual 3 mile walk likely isn't enough to get a dog in shape for hunting like conditions where a dog is off leash and full of adrenaline. I personally road my dogs for at least 10-12 miles behind my wheeler 2 to 3 times a week prior to the season at a good run before I consider them in shape, though sometimes even that isn't enough on a hard running bear.

An in shape dog is going to have less than 10% body fat, so if you can't see the ribs and a sucked up gut, cut down the feed and up the exercise routine until you do. Turn your dog into a little canine athlete, and you'll greatly reduce any incidents of heat stroke.
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