Working Ranch Blog
Jul. 4 2012, 12:00 PM
When dogs get hot and tired they are at greater risk for injury. Water can boost a dog’s endurance by 75 percent, so plan ahead. Set up water stations when you are going to be working in areas long distances from water. This can be as simple as placing jugs of water in strategic spots so your dog can rest and cool down. Also, get in the habit of carrying a canteen of water for your dog (and some sort of collapsible container you can fold up and keep in your saddle bag) to keep him adequately hydrated.
When a dog is dehydrated he’s more likely to have low levels of minerals such as potassium (and calcium) which may lead to muscle cramping. A high calorie vitamin/mineral supplement like Nutri-Cal in a tube is an excellent way to give your dog a quick boost of energy and extra nutrients which is easily carried in your saddle bags. Place a small amount of the gel in the roof of your dog’s mouth (or give him some Nutri-Cal soft chews).
Hardworking cowdogs cover way more territory than a horse does. Good dogs have a lot of heart and don’t quit easily. They can easily get overheated in hot or humid weather. It can also happen on a moderately warm day working rough stock or bringing cattle out of the brush or rounding up a herd-quitter. You need to pay attention. If you wait until your dog is in real trouble, it may be too late.
Signs of heat exhaustion include:
- muscle tremors
- loss of balance
- excessive panting
- drooling and foaming at the mouth
- confusion or not paying attention
- red or pale/white gums
- collapse and death
Any time you see these signs, your dog needs to be rested and cooled down without delay. Use cool water, but not ice cold. Extremely cold water can constrict the blood vessels and prevent the body from cooling (by causing the internal temperature to rise even further). Get your dog to shade (if nearby). Immerse your dog in a pool of water (if available). Otherwise pour cool water, underbelly (inside the dog’s thighs), the footpads, the neck (where the juglar vein is) and head. If your dog is too hot to drink water he may be in a life-threatening situation and needs immediate vet attention.
Jeanne Joy Hartnagle-Taylor trains and handles stockdogs. Her experience has taken her on assignment with the Department of Interior to work wild bison bulls as well as with the Department of Agriculture. She has written several books including, Stockdog Savvy to help people train their dogs for practical farm and ranch work. For more information - check out her website http://lasrocosa.com/education.html and her blog http://stockdogsavvy.wordpress.com/