5 Tips to Protect your Trail Dog from Heat Stroke

5 Tips to Avoid Heat Stroke in Your Trail Dog

Heat Stroke is No Joke! Every year countless pets die as a result of overheating. Join Craig and Timber as they do their part to help promote awareness of this preventable tragedy.

Heat stroke is no joke. If you exercise with your dog, you owe it to them to understand how heat stroke works and what to do to avoid a crisis in the backcountry.  Here are our 5 tips to protect your dog from heat stroke.

  1. Know your Trail
    • Pick a trail that provides appropriate shade and elevation gains for the day. Wide open, exposed and steep trails will demand more effort and push up body temperatures;
    • Try to stick with the trails you know. Limiting the unknown variables will help you avoid unexpected and dangerous trail conditions;
    • Carry plenty of water; I always have an extra bottle in case I need to soak my dog;
    • Never leave your dog in your vehicle while you go for a ride;
  2. Know your Dog
    • Dogs with long hair coats, chubby waistlines and flat faces are all at higher risk for heat related problems;
    • Heart disease, arthritis, and lack of training also play a role is your dog’s ability to exercise. As effort increases, so does body temperature;
    • It’s always a good idea to start the season with short, easy runs and rides to build your dog’s stamina;
    • Remember the main way a dog cools off is by panting…they don’t sweat like we do, so it takes longer for them to cool down. Take lots of breaks;
    • Provide small amounts of water while exercising. If you are near a stream, don’t let your dog drink unlimited water. When dogs fill their stomach with food or water it becomes heavy and they are at a higher risk for a condition known as bloat, which is a true medical emergency and not something you want to be managing out on trail;
  3. Know your Weather
    • Depending on where you live weather conditions can change rapidly. Even the loss of a little cloud cover can heat things up to dangerous levels;
    • As a general rule we try to ride and run in the early morning or late afternoon. This helps us avoid the higher afternoon temperatures; Plus sunrise and sunset pictures are way cooler on Insta!
  4. Know the Signs
    • Heavy, continuous panting.
    • Glazed eyes.
    • Weakness, stumbling and/or collapse.
    • Increased pulse.
    • Vomiting.
    • Dark red tongue or gums.
    • Excessive drooling.
    • Seizures.
  5. Know what to Do
    • On our bike rides, we can easily end up several miles from the car, which makes it difficult to get help if needed;
    • The best thing to do is to remember that you’re riding with your dog! Slow down and take breaks. Dogs will push themselves until they collapse. You need to be the one making good choices.
    • If you think your dog has gotten overheated:
      • Stop all activity and seek shade
      • Remove any backpacks or boots
      • Offer water, but don’t try to force water
      • If there is a stream nearby, let them soak
      • Otherwise soak their coat to enable evaporative cooling
      • Monitor their temperature:
        • We carry a digital thermometer in our pack at all times
        • Normal is 100-102.5.
        • Anything over 103 should have your attention.
        • Anything over 104-107 is very serious.
      • Don’t put the dog in an ice bath or you may drive the temp too low and cause other problems
      • If you have a way to fan the dog, do so
      • Phone a friend and try to get a ride out if possible
      • Phone your veterinarian or local pet ER for follow-up as soon as possible

That’s it! Just remember that your dog is counting on you to make the smart choices. With a little common sense, you and your dog should be able to enjoy endless miles of smiles in the great outdoors together!

For more tips and tricks check out our other videos on you tube or our in-depth podcasts on iTunes. Until next time, may your trails be filled with tails!

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