Waterfowl hunters know that maintaining their canine partner's skills is a year-round process, from the day after the season ends right up to opening day. Understanding how to avoid heat stroke and what to do in case of emergency can make all the difference when training your dog through the hot summer months.

Heat stroke among dogs comes on very quickly and usually begins with loud, frantic, labored breathing. Vomiting commonly occurs. The dog's tongue may become bright red and saliva may thicken. Upon taking the dog's rectal temperature, it is not uncommon for the reading to exceed 106 degrees Fahrenheit.

Once a dog's physical symptoms point to heat stroke, immediate action is required. If left untreated, the dog will become lethargic and weak, begin staggering and typically have bloody diarrhea.

Heat stroke treatment methods must be administered quickly. Moving the dog to a cooler area will sometimes alleviate mild cases. In more severe cases, where the dog's temperature is around the 106-degree mark, immersing the dog in a tub of cold water or spraying the dog with a garden hose are the best methods of lowering body temperature.

According to Dr. Jimmy Murphy of Collierville Pet Hospital, 'Reducing the body temperature before transporting to your local veterinarian is of the utmost importance in cases where the temperature of the dog exceeds 105 degrees Fahrenheit.'

Lowering a dog's body temperature is critical, as an animal experiencing the symptoms of heat stroke is seen as an emergency. Dr. Murphy also warns that covering or wrapping the animal with cool towels is not effective in lowering body temperature. Although this may seem like a good idea, the towel actually works as insulation, trapping the warm air inside and not allowing it to flow away from the dog's body.

7 Keep-Cool Tips for Dogs

  • Avoid intense activity between the hours of 9 a.m. and 6 p.m.
  • Darker-colored dogs have a tendency to get hotter quicker and take longer to cool down than lighter-colored dogs.
  • Allow access to shade throughout the entire day. A particular area may be shady in the morning hours and sunny in the afternoon.
  • Dog houses are insulators for heat. In most cases the temperature inside the dog house is higher than outside.
  • Cool, fresh water should always be accessible to your dog. Ice water is not recommended because the cold causes constriction of small blood vessels.
  • If dogs are left inside during the day, make sure air conditioning is always available to them. If your home has a basement, allow your dogs access to this area.
  • Keep an extra thermometer handy during training. The normal range for a dog is between 99 and 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit. The only accurate way to take a dog's temperature is through the rectum.