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Preparing for mantrailing in the heat

Updated: Jun 7, 2023

With temperatures rising and the summer heat fast approaching, we have focused this months blog on educating and preparing our Mantrailing teams for the heat.



WHAT IS HEAT STROKE? Heatstroke occurs when heat generated by metabolism, exercise and environmental conditions overwhelms the body’s cooling mechanisms, meaning it can no longer dissipate heat.


Heat stroke is a potentially fatal

condition that can be classified into

classical heatstroke, caused by exposure to high temperatures and humidity, or exertional heatstroke caused by strenuous physical exercise.



HOW DOGS REGULATE THEIR TEMPERATURE

Dogs are particularly at risk of heat stroke due to their physiological cooling mechanisms. Dogs only sweat from their pads, and use panting to dissipate heat through evaporation. When ambient temperature is less than body temperature, 70% of canine body heat is lost from radiation and convection. As environmental temperature increases beyond body temperature, dogs must rely on panting alone to maintain normothermia, and this becomes ineffective in high humidity. Sudden hot spells are most dangerous as your dog can take about 6 weeks to acclimatise to heat. (Hemmelgarn and Gannon, 2013a).



SIGNS OF HEATSTROKE & WHAT TO DO


  • SPOT THEM – spotting the early signs will give you time to take action.



  • STOP THEM – from getting any hotter, e.g. stop the exercise, get them out of the hot car/building/garden.



  • SAVE THEM – seek veterinary treatment and cool them (using water)











(Credits: Canineheatstroke.dog & VetCompass)



ADVICE FOR MANTRAILING IN THE HEAT

Due to our dogs working one-at-a-time during our Mantrailing sessions, our vehicles are a huge consideration when it comes to the safety of our dogs. The environmental conditions within a car on a hot day will rapidly prevent any effective heat loss by a dog’s normal cooling mechanisms. Take a read of the findings below from an experiment carried out by PDSA in 2016:


A dark coloured car, parked in full sun on a day with an ambient temperature of 22oC, can reach an internal temperature exceeding 47oC within an hour (McLaren, Null and Quinn, 2005). The same car’s internal temperature reached 40oC after 10 minutes and approached 60oC when parked in full sun at 31oC for an hour. Opening the windows slightly was shown to have very little effect on the rate of temperature increase, and no effect on the overall total temperature increase (McLaren et al., 2005). This highlights the importance of why we need to ensure the following adjustments are made when Mantrailing during the summer months.



ADJUSTMENTS YOU CAN MAKE:

- Park in the shade during the session, be prepared to move your vehicle and follow the shade as the sun moves throughout the day.

- Invest in a reflective sheet, we highly recommend the Aluminet which reflects the heat but also allows for a breeze to pass through.

- Ensuring your dog can be secured safely to enable you to have the vehicle windows/doors open to allow airflow.

-Invest in a Tailgate Vent Lock to safely keep you boot popped open to assisting in allowing a through breeze.

- Providing readily available access to water at all times. We highly recommend non-spill bowls such as the Road Refresher.

- Although our instructors will always have these details to hand too, it is wise for you to also research where the local vet is to where your session will be held in the case of emergency.

- Take a break from observing other trails and prioritise supervising your dog throughout the session. Check in regularly with your dog to ensure they are not showing any signs of overheating. If you are not available to stay with your dog, please ensure another member of the group will be doing welfare checks on them on your behalf.


ADJUSTMENTS YOUR INSTRUCTORS MAY MAKE:

- Session times changed to a cooler timer of day.

- Locations moved to a cooler location with more shade.

- Shorter 'component' trails to avoid dogs working for long periods of time.

- Cutting a session short due to temperatures rising more/quicker than expected if necessary on welfare grounds.

- Cancelling the session and re-booking for when it's cooler.

Please remember to ALWAYS advocate for yourself and your dog. If you feel it is too hot for yourself or your dog to work when a session is still planned to go ahead, please speak to your instructor directly to discuss with them.

If you'd like to do more research on Canine Heat Stroke, please visit https://heatstroke.dog/


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