Health & Safety

Working Dog Health: The Importance of CPR and Heatstroke Prevention

You never know when an emergency might strike while out working with your search and rescue dog. Make sure you're prepared by following these dog safety tips.
Almog Koren
8.5 min read
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Your working dog might be the picture of health and safety, but that doesn't mean accidents can't happen. As any animal lover knows, even the most well-behaved animal can get into mischief—which is why it's crucial to be prepared for anything.

Working dogs, in particular, are prone to injury due to their high-stress occupation. Search and rescue dogs face hazardous conditions while out on the job, with many working long hours in extreme weather conditions. That's why it's essential to know how to prevent accidents and what to do in the event of an emergency, like heatstroke or heart failure.

Heatstroke is a highly fatal syndrome that occurs when an animal's body temperature rises to dangerous levels. It is a medical emergency that requires immediate treatment, as does cardiac arrest.

working dog

CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) is a life-saving technique that can be used on humans and animals alike. It is a simple, yet effective, way to keep oxygen and blood flowing to the brain and organs in the event of cardiac arrest.

While it is always best to prevent an accident from happening in the first place, knowing how to administer CPR and how to recognize the signs of heatstroke could mean the difference between life and death for your working dog.

What Can Affect a Dog's Heat? 

There are several factors that can affect a dog's heat, including weather, size, and type of dog.

  • Weather: Hot, humid weather is one of the biggest risk factors for heatstroke in dogs. 
  • Size: Because giant breed dogs have large bodies, they lose heat more slowly and can therefore regulate their body temperature better in cold weather. However, this means that they are more prone to heatstroke in hot weather than smaller dogs.
  • Breed of Dog: While heatstroke can occur in any dog, certain breeds are more susceptible. Longhaired dogs are at a higher risk because they have trouble cooling themselves down, while Brachycephalic (short-nosed) breeds, like pugs and bulldogs, are at a higher risk due to their shortened airways.
  • Weight:  Dogs that are overweight or obese are more likely to experience heatstroke because they have trouble regulating their body temperature.
  • Age of dog: Senior dogs are more at risk for heatstroke because they often have health conditions that make it challenging to regulate their body temperature. Additionally, puppies and very young dogs are also at a higher risk as they are not yet fully acclimated to high temperatures.
German Shepard bitting bit sleeve

Look Out for Signs of Heatstroke

Working dogs are at increased risk for heat-related injuries, as they often have to work in hot weather conditions. When the temperature starts to rise, make sure to offer your working dog plenty of water and take breaks in the shade as needed.

If your dog is working in a particularly hot environment, such as search and rescue operations, be sure to take extra precautions. In these cases, it's often best to have multiple handlers so that one person can focus on watching the dog for signs of distress.

Heatstroke is a serious condition that can be fatal if not treated immediately. The most telling symptom of heatstroke is usually exaggerated panting. However, other symptoms can include:

  • Increased body temperature - A dog's normal body temperature is between 101 and 102 degrees Fahrenheit. If their temperature starts to rise above 106 degrees, they might be suffering from heatstroke.
  • Glazed eyes -  If your dog's eyes look glassy or glazed over, it could signify heat exhaustion.
  • Rapid heartbeat - Your dog's heart rate will increase as its body temperature rises. If you think your dog's heartbeat is abnormally fast, get it checked out. 
  • Collapsing or staggering legs - A dog that's suffering from heatstroke may act dizzy or disoriented. Look at their gait to see if they're staggering or walking oddly. If your dog's legs start to give out from under them, it's a sign that you need to quick take medical action.
  • Difficulty breathing - This may seem like an obvious sign, but it's worth mentioning. If your dog is having trouble breathing, get them to the vet immediately.
  • Red or purple gums and tongue -  If your dog's gums and tongue start to turn red or purple, it's a sign that they're not getting enough oxygen.
  • Excessive drooling -  If your dog is drooling more than normal, it could signify heat exhaustion.
  • Vomiting - Vomiting in dogs can happen for a number of reasons, but it's always best to err on the side of caution. If your dog starts vomiting during or after exercise, take them to see a veterinarian right away.
dog in own position

How to Treat Heatstroke

If you think your dog is suffering from heatstroke, the first thing you should do is move them to a cool, shady area. Then, apply cool (not cold) water to their body, paying special attention to their head, neck, and chest. You can also soak their feet in cool water.

In addition, a fan can help speed up the cooling process. However, make sure not to put the fan too close to your dog, as you don't want to cause them any further discomfort.

Take them to the vet immediately, even if they seem to be recovering. Heatstroke can cause lasting damage to your dog's organs, so it's always best to err on the side of caution.

Check our quick guide PDF, just sign up to DogBase using this form and we will email you the PDF -

CPR for Dogs

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation, or CPR, is a life-saving technique that can be used on humans and animals alike. In the unfortunate event that your dog isn't breathing due to heatstroke or another emergency, CPR can help keep them alive until they can get medical treatment.

If you're unsure how to perform CPR on your dog, don't worry. Check out our guide below to stay prepared in case of an emergency.

How to Perform CPR on Your Dog

Check our quick guide PDF, just sign up to DogBase using this form and we will email you the PDF -

Final Thoughts

Dog health and safety are always top priorities at DogBase. By following these simple dog safety tips, you can help keep your pup safe and healthy on the job.

If you're looking for a comprehensive dog management platform that can help you with everything from tracking progress to logging data, look no further than DogBase. Our platform is designed to make your life as a working dog handler easier—and to help your dog perform at their best.

DogBase is currently in private beta with a few selected military units, SAR units, and enterprise organizations. If you are interested in being part of our pilot program, fill out our early access form, and you'll be the first to know when we launch!

DogBase is centered on a shared belief in technology to systematically drive high-performance working dogs. Our platform is centered on frictionless logging, tracking, and making AI-driven improvements.

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