How to avoid the dangers of overheating your waterfowling dog

How to avoid the dangers of overheating your waterfowling dog
Dogs can overheat quickly regardless of the temperature in the blind, keep your eyes open for critical first signs like diarrhea. Pale gums and a bright red tongue are additional signs.

Dogs can overheat relatively quickly regardless of the temperature in the duck blind. Factors such as age, fitness level, coat length and activity all play a part. And overheating in dogs can cause two similar and equally dangerous disorders: heat stroke and heat exhaustion.

With warm-weather training sessions and early waterfowl seasons just around the corner, dog owners need to be overly vigilant in order to avoid the dangers of overheating their dogs and exposing them to heat stroke and heat exhaustion. Several studies, including some by Iowa State University, have compared the two.

Dogs can overheat quickly regardless of the temperature in the blind, keep your eyes open for critical first signs like diarrhea. Pale gums and a bright red tongue are additional signs.

Heat stroke occurs when a dog's internal temperature rises above 103 degrees Fahrenheit. However, if a dog has been exercising in warmer temperatures — because it's been working hard chasing down cripples, for instance — heat exhaustion can occur. During heat exhaustion, a dog can't cool itself as quickly as it is heating up. It may begin panting harder and harder. This can lead to weakness, disorientation and vomiting. Past this point, heat exhaustion can turn into heat stroke.


Diarrhea may be one of the first indicators your dog is suffering from heat stroke, and pale gums and a bright red tongue are additional signs. Seizures or coma will follow. At this stage, pets often don't survive.


The best medicine is to not let your retriever get that far along. If you're hunting early season or heading out for a warm-weather shoot, keep a close eye on your dog. Here are critical signs to watch out for and what you need to do to keep your dog from succumbing to heat-related problems.


Be sure clean, cool water is nearby, and bring a dog blind for shade if it's a field hunt. However, if you miss the early warning signs and your dog begins to stumble or vomit, take action immediately.

  1. End any exercise and find a cool, shady spot.

  1. Offer cool (not cold) water to drink, and wait until the panting subsides. This can take a while, so don't rush it.

  1. If there is a pond or stream nearby, let the dog go in to cool itself. Don't submerge it in too-cold water, however, as that can impede the cooling process.

  1. Finally, call your vet. They'll ask exactly what happened and instruct you to either come in for a checkup or watch for any signs that additional care may be needed.

If you're planning to take advantage of early-season hunts, just remember your dog may not know when to quit. As a responsible owner, know when to throw in the towel to assure your dog doesn't overheat.

Recommended for You

Here's how to cash in on the spreading numbers of white-fronts. Hunting Tactics

Take Advantage of the Specklebelly Surge

John Gordon

Here's how to cash in on the spreading numbers of white-fronts.

Nourish your pup's noggin for elite performance. Retriever

Gun Dog Nutrition & Intelligence

Tony J. Peterson

Nourish your pup's noggin for elite performance.

The sweet, tangy flavor of orange juice combined with spicy jalapeños in this duck recipe will have your taste buds screaming for more. Recipes

Sweet Jalapeño Grilled Duck Recipe

Scott Leysath, "The Sporting Chef"

The sweet, tangy flavor of orange juice combined with spicy jalapeños in this duck recipe will...

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Browning A5 Shotgun -

Browning A5 Shotgun - 'Gun Stories'

Gun Stories host Joe Mantegna talks about the origin and history of the Browning A5 shotgun.

Wentz Bros Outdoors - Throwback Waterfowl

Wentz Bros Outdoors - Throwback Waterfowl

This video is a classic! Take a front row seat with Carson as he hunted back in college. The clips are all either filmed with a GoPro or cell phone!

Cowboy Fernandez Commemorative Yentzen Classic Duck Call

Cowboy Fernandez Commemorative Yentzen Classic Duck Call

As Groves, Texas duck call maker Sure-Shot Game Calls celebrates their 60th anniversary during 2019, company CEO Charlie Holder shows off the limited edition Yentzen Classic aimed at commemorating the life and times of company founder Jim 'Cowboy' Fernandez. With a special autographed box and a laser engraved call body, the Cowboy Classic is a perfect way to honor the legacy of the 1959 world duck calling champ and inventor of the double-reed duck call.

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories

Check out our picks for the best new waterfowl guns from the 2019 SHOT Show! Shotguns

Best New Waterfowl Shotguns for 2019

Lynn Burkhead - January 23, 2019

Check out our picks for the best new waterfowl guns from the 2019 SHOT Show!

Let's face it, that old mud motor from two years ago isn't cuttin' it any longer.

Of course, it Boats

8 Best Mud Motors for 2016

David Hart - May 26, 2016

Let's face it, that old mud motor from two years ago isn't cuttin' it any longer. Of course,...

Jim Orth needed'a simple blind for hunting Lake St. Clair. A staffing recruiter and outfitter from How-To

Building a Duck Boat Blind on a Budget

Mike Marsh - May 10, 2016

Jim Orth needed'a simple blind for hunting Lake St. Clair. A staffing recruiter and outfitter...

See More Stories

More Retriever

With genetics, if you don't hedge your bets with a well-bred puppy, you're asking for trouble. Retriever

Focus on Pedigree When Researching Puppies

Tony J. Peterson

With genetics, if you don't hedge your bets with a well-bred puppy, you're asking for trouble....

Having a difficult time with your four-legged hunting partner? Author Tony J. Peterson offers some top-notch training tips for your duck dogs.f Retriever

Training Tips for Your Distracted Duck Dogs

Tony Peterson - May 04, 2018

Having a difficult time with your four-legged hunting partner? Author Tony J. Peterson offers...

Gun dogs are going to find trouble, and you need to be prepared. Make sure you have these supplies at the ready! Retriever

Gun Dog First Aid in the Field

Tyler Shoberg

Gun dogs are going to find trouble, and you need to be prepared. Make sure you have these...

See More Retriever

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.