It is far too often that we hear about K9 Officers succumbing to heat exhaustion. The results are heartbreaking and completely preventable! Right now, with unusually high temperatures across the U.S., it is doubly important to stay vigilant and protect our four legged, furry partners.
Heat exhaustion is defined as when the heat gained exceeds the body’s ability to dissipate heat.
Risk factors include:
- dark or long hair
- a history of heat stroke
- overextended dogs
- muzzled dogs
- dogs who are tracking
The temperature inside of vehicles can rise very quickly so it is important to monitor K9 Officers consistently when they are in vehicles unattended, even if electronic safeguards are in place.
Signs of K9 heat stroke:
- rapid, frantic panting
- dark red gums and mucous membranes
- anxious, panicked expression
- salivation early on then dry gums as the heat prostration sets in high fever
- staring/dizziness or disorientation/staggering
- refusal to obey commands
- lying down and unwilling (or unable) to get up
- rapid heart beat
- diarrhea that may have bright red blood in it
- collapse and/or loss of consciousness
Precautionary solutions include:
- bullet resistant and cooling vests
- heat monitoring devices
- K9 first aid kits whose contents that handlers have been trained well how to use
Equipment for K9 First Aid Kit:
- bandage scissors
- thermometer (rectal thermometer for accuracy)
- needles and syringes
- disposable latex gloves
It is important to keep cool water available and to monitor K9 Officers closely, halt work immediately if a dog shows signs of heat exhaustion, and provide treatment until the dog reaches a temperature of 103 degrees F and transport them to the vet for professional care.