Eukanuba Champions Exertional Heat Awareness In Gun Dog Training

This summer, Eukanuba is focusing its attention on keeping dogs safe while running in hot, humid conditions. There are two types of Heat Related Illness (HRI), non-exertional and exertional.

Non-exertional HRI comes when dogs are confined in hot areas and can’t cool down. Exertional HRI comes when a dog’s activities generate excessive internal heat and the hot summer heat won’t let them cool down fast enough. To get gun dogs ready for Opening Day, owners need to work in the heat. Proper hydration combined with identifying the three progressive phases of exertional HRI is important.

Says Russ Kelley, the Science Lead Nutritionist at Eukanuba’s Pet Health and Nutrition Center “high temperatures and humidity makes it difficult for dogs to cool down. Their normal core body temperature is a range that accounts for different sizes and breeds. Normal core body temps vary between 99.5-105.5 degrees, and as those temps climb above 104 degrees then dogs may be impacted. Heat stress is the first stage where their tongue tips are wide, and they have white pasty foam on their gums. Heat exhaustion is when they lose focus and start wobbling while running. Heat stroke comes with vomiting, diarrhea, and possibly a coma. Being aware of the signs is important to keep dogs safe while preparing for Opening Day.”

Eukanuba Pro Trainer Chris Akin from Webb Footed Kennels in Jonesboro, Arkansas, says, “It’s tough to train dogs in the summer, especially if you’ve got a lot of personal and professional commitments. It’s best to wake up early and train. Everything in the morning is the coolest it’ll be that day. Dogs adapt more easily to rising temperatures, so get your butt out of bed in the morning and get after it.”

Here are five of his quick tips:

  • Wide open spaces. “Work dogs in more open areas. Cover traps heat while open space circulates air. Even the lightest breeze helps dogs cool down.”
  • Made in the Shade. “Keep all dogs staked out in the shade when they’re not running, especially black or chocolate dogs which absorb more heat than lighter colored ones.”
  • Cut feeding as workloads decrease. “Reduce your feeding and feed only in the afternoon. Digestion causes an increase in internal temperatures, so they’ll run cooler on an empty stomach. Also, float their food in water to help prevent dehydration.”
  • Watch their tongue. “Rounded ends, long tongues, and tongues coming out of the sides of their mouths means back off. Lack of focus, wobbly legs, and excessive panting means cool ‘em down. It’s a long way until duck season so take your time, work slowly, and build up progressively. Keep a close eye on your dog and keep him safe.”
  • Keep Labs dry. “You’ll want to run them in the water to keep them cool, but make sure they’re dry before you put them in their box. If a Lab’s under coat stays wet the heat will cause them to develop a fungus.”

There is a lot more information on HRI on Eukanuba’s Sporting Dog website, Be safe, train smart, and help your gun dogs prepare for the upcoming season so you’ll have a great time in the woods and waters.