With temperatures continuing to soar in the UK the focus is on keeping our animals cool, safe and avoiding potential complications of overheating such as heatstroke.
Agility and obedience shows continue to run as long as handlers are sensible with their dogs, prevention of overheating is better than cure!
Given the extremely high temperatures the usual working dog warm ups are not possible, so we as handlers need to think outside the box to make sure that the dogs are sufficiently warmed up without getting too hot!
It’s worth investing in a cool coat, they are so effective in high temperatures! They can be purchased online on amazon or eBay and are relatively inexpensive! Make sure there is access to cool water at all times and when not working your dog is in a shaded area.
Firstly I am going to just point out the signs of heatstroke in your dog:
- Excessive drooling
- Increased body temperature – above 103° F (39° C)
- Reddened gums and moist tissues of the body
- Production of only small amounts of urine or no urine
- Rapid heart rate
- Irregular heart beats
- Stoppage of the heart and breathing (cardiopulmonary arrest)
- Fluid build-up in the lungs; sudden breathing distress
- Vomiting blood
- Passage of blood in the bowel movement or stool
- Black, tarry stools
- Changes in mental status
- Muscle tremors
- Wobbly, uncoordinated or drunken gaitor movement
- Unconsciousness in which the dog cannot be stimulated to be awakened
It is imperative that if you notice ANY of these symptoms that you get your dog into the shade and offer cool (Not cold) water and seek veterinary advice as soon as possible.
So how do you warm up an agility or working dog in these temperatures?
It is widely accepted that warming up reduces the risk of injury to muscles, tendons, ligaments and joints. A warm up plan including exercise, massage and stretching is a great way to help your dog. It is also important to cool your dog down after exercise, rather than putting them straight back into the crate.
Some benefits of an effective warm-up are:-
- Raises heart rate in preparation for exercise
- Warmed muscles utilise oxygen and nutrients more effectively and can contract and relax more quickly
- Reduces risk of injury and stiffness
- Mentally prepares dog and handler for exercise. (Warm up is for you, too!)
Warming up with a 5-10 minute controlled walk can help warm the muscles and connective tissue to help prevent strains and ruptures of muscles and connective tissue.
These are easily achievable in a confined space…
SIT TO STAND
Help your dog use both legs evenly and to increase blood flow and hind end strength; both important for running and agility
SIT TO DOWN
Also known as Doggie Push Ups, Sit to Down helps strengthen and warm up the front limbs
Stand to Down – Great flexibility exercise to increase circulation
SIDE STRETCH (NOSE TO HIP)
Stretch and loosen lateral shoulder and neck muscles for side to side movements
Left and Right – Improves balance and flexibility
Try to keep the warm up calm but effective, we are aiming to warm up not heat up!
And don’t forget the cool down in this temperature is just as important as the warm up…..
Some benefits of cool-down are:-
- Helps the body to eliminate toxins such as lactic acid, consequently reducing the risk of stiffness after exercise.
- Gives an opportunity to identify signs of injury quickly after an event.
- Allows the heart rate to return to a resting level.
Cool-down after agility can include:-
- 5-10 minutes loose lead walking or gentle off-lead exercise Remember, you are trying to wind the dog down, so no balls or tuggy games!
- Massage and gentle passive stretching of major muscle groups – hold stretches for 5-15 seconds.
Just make sure you keep a close eye on your dog, and if you are in doubt about the heat and your dogs ability to cope don’t take the risk!
Thanks to the supermodels Beau and Seanie for their participation in the photographs, both modelling their cool coats!!