K-9: Into The Fire – How Not to BBQ Your Dog This Summer

burning-dog
burning-dog

regular or Extra Crispy?

As we enter the spring and summer months here in Iraq, temperatures are already topping out in triple digits during the hottest parts of the day. This is a good time to revisit the special care that’s required for our four-legged friends. For those casual pet owners out there, it’s important to know that our dogs are built a little differently when it comes to reducing body heat... Unlike humans, dogs do not have sweat glands that enable them to cool their bodies. Dogs are only able to reduce their temps by panting and by some sweat released through their footpads. That is it!

If you are in a job that requires you to transport your dog inside a vehicle, it is important to know how hot the interior can get even on a mild day. The American Academy of Pediatrics conducted a study of vehicle temperatures and found that when outside temps were as low as 86°, interior temps could reach as high as 154° within 30 minutes. The study also found that lowering a window did not significantly reduce the temperature.

Another scenario that can be potentially fatal to our dogs is a sudden decrease in temperature. When a dog goes into heat distress, it would sound logical to immediately reduce a dog’s temp by dunking him in a tub of cold water or taking them into an extremely cold environment. Unfortunately, this can cause such a shock to a dog’s system that it can bring on a cardiac emergency and possibly death.

Here are some tricks for reducing a dog’s temp that have been learned and passed down by K-9 handlers for many years and can be applied to all companions:

1. Most importantly, keep your pet hydrated. You can tell a lot about your dog’s hydration level by its piss and how dark it comes out. If your dog is so dehydrated that it’s not pissing at all, get them some fluids.

2. You can simulate sweating by putting rubbing alcohol on your dog’s belly. The alcohol will evaporate and reduce the overall temp. If you think your dog is going into heat distress, an IV bag of saline solution placed directly between your dog’s shoulder blades can be the turning point for your dog’s survival.

3. Keep the AC running in your vehicle for your pet and remember to crack open the hood to keep cool air flowing through the engine. Also, find some sort of shade to keep the hot sun off the vehicle, even if it means tying up your poncho to some tent poles or T-walls.

Be informed, talk to your vet or experienced dog handlers for suggestion. Always seek professional medical attention if you think your dog is in heat distress. Most importantly, know that here in the Middle East, at some point it will be too hot to work your dog, no matter what steps you take to keep them cooled.

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~Frazier D Civilian Contractor EOD K-9 Correspondent KGKC Member #28

Frazier D
Frazier D

Frazier D was a police officer for 14 years, 8 as a K-9 handler. He is currently a Civilian Contractor bomb dog handler in Iraq.