For this episode of K9 Conservationists, Kayla speaks with Dr. Janice Baker from the Veterinary Tactical Group about heat events and working dogs.
Science Highlight: Rethinking Heat Injury in the SOF Multipurpose Canine: A Critical Review
Links Mentioned in the Episode:
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Kayla Fratt 00:09
Hello, and welcome to the K9Conservationists podcast where we’re positively obsessed with conservation detection dogs. Join us every week to discuss detection, turning welfare, conservation, biology and everything in between. I’m Kayla Fratt, one of the cofounders of K9Conservationists, where we train dogs to detect data for land managers, researchers, agencies and NGOs.
Kayla Fratt 00:28
We don’t have any reviews to highlight. So if you haven’t reviewed us yet on Apple podcasts, please go ahead and drop us one there. They really make my day and I’m always a little bit sad when I go to check and we don’t have any new ones to read on the podcast. But today I have the joy of talking to Janice Baker from the Veterinary Tactical Group about heat safety for our working dogs. So this is one of the episodes that’s going to be included in our Working Dogs Safety mini-series. Janice, welcome to the podcast. I’m so excited to have you here.
Janice Baker 00:55
Thank you for having me. I’m excited to be here too.
Kayla Fratt 00:58
Yeah, this is such an important topic. So, Janice for everyone who is not aware of her, she is a doctor of veterinary medicine with over 20 years of experience in the US Army, where she served 10 years in special ops as the command veterinarian for Naval Special Warfare Development Group, the Joint Special Operations Command and the Joint Special Operations Medical Training Center respectively, with multiple deployments to combat zones in support of the canine operations. As a civilian, she deployed as directed veterinary support with the federal government canine unit on multiple federal law enforcement operations. While actively working in emergency veterinary practice in North Carolina. That sounds very busy.
Kayla Fratt 01:35
She graduated from University of California Davis School of Veterinary Medicine in 1999, and became a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary preventative medicine in 2014, and earned a Master of Veterinary Forensics degree from the University of Florida in 2016. So you can see why I’m excited to talk to Janice, because she has so much experience and so much useful stuff to share with us.
Kayla Fratt 01:57
But before we get into it, we’re going to dive into our science highlight, which is one that Janice suggested. It is titled Rethinking Heat Injury in the SOF Multipurpose Canine: A Critical Review. It was published in the Journal of Special Operations Medicine, by our very own Janice Baker, Paul Hollier, Laura Miller and Ward Lacy in the summer of 2012. And in it, I’m going to quote rather generously. They write, “A majority of the management guidelines for heat injury in the veterinary reference books and evidence are based on review articles or professional opinion of the author’s versus evidence from original research.” Later, they continue: “The phenomenon of ‘circular referencing’ is also prevalent in the heat injury literature. Current guidelines supported by review articles and textbooks often provide no citation, or survive cite other review articles for clinical standards such as normal temperature ranges, treatment methods, and the recurrence of heat injury. This ‘circular referencing’ phenomenon misrepresents anecdotal evidence and professional opinion as scientifically validated, reinforcing concepts and recommendations that are not truly supported by the evidence. Further study is needed to fully understand heat injury and SOF MPCs.” Janice, what does that stand for again?
Janice Baker 03:08
Special Operations Forces Multipurpose Canine, it’s a type of military working dog.
Kayla Fratt 03:14
Excellent, thank you. And that it in how this applies to prevention, diagnosis and treatment guidelines. In order to provide SOF canine pronoun programs with the best clinical care and advice SOF veterinarians must take make clinical judgments based on the evaluation of the most accurate and valid information possible. And now we’re going to try to get into some of the best information that is available for us.
Kayla Fratt 03:38
So Janice, why don’t we start out with I think there’s so many different places we could start, we could start with like, what are the risk factors for heat stress? Or what does it look like? I think we can start with either one of those. So I don’t know if you have a flow that you prefer to start with?
Janice Baker 03:52
Sure. I think, from the context of what of what we’re talking about, rethinking, we should start with what we thought, if that makes sense about both those topics. So for years, decades, we, when we described heat injury, we would say it looks like seizures, collapse, plenty, diarrhea, a bunch of gross things. Staggering, stumbling collapse, seizures, coma. And that’s accurate, right? It’s accurate, but the only person or people that helps is the veterinarian doing the forensic exam to figure out why the dog already died, that it’s too late.
Kayla Fratt 04:31
Yeah, that makes sense.
Janice Baker 04:32
So what we have sort of evolved to teaching or evolved of stressing when we talk about heat injury, or just heat stress in general, and the terminology has changed quite a bit as well. But it’s normal for dogs to have thermal stress or get hotter when they exercise or they’re in hot environment. So now what we say is, let’s look for these behavioral signs that show that the dog is having trouble tolerating that increase in heat because what we found, we used to say anything over 104 104 Fahrenheit, which is 40 centigrade, you have to stop your dog and cool it down because it’s the risk of heat injury, and anything over 106, it’s heat stroke, and your dog’s probably going to die.
Kayla Fratt 05:15
And is that’s ambient temperature, or rectal temperature?
Janice Baker 05:19
I’m sorry, rectal temperature. Right, right. Yeah, that’s very, very important to clarify, and we’ll get into that later. But the, what we found is the working dogs we found it originally with personally, I found it originally with those special operations dogs. But looking back at the at the evidence, what was actually out there, as early as 1980, there had been studies with dogs exercising on treadmills, or in the field hunting dogs that were getting up to 108! 107, 108. And they were perfectly fine. And so why we never saw that, like why we never recognize that in the veterinary community is there’s a lot of reasons but we didn’t we, we stuck with that 104, 106. And we based heat injury on the body temperature.
Janice Baker 06:13
But what we found over the last decade, since we wrote that that article that you were reading, or that study, is that the temperature, it’s different for every dog, like my dog was 105, when I took him out of his crate, because he was thinking he was gonna get to go work, he was all excited. He was a search and rescue dog. And he would spin in his crate and act like a crazy lab and he’d be 105. By the guidelines that we had put out as the veterinary community, I would have to just stop him right then and not working.
Janice Baker 06:43
So that’s one thing, we figured out that looking at their behavioral and some physical signs of what their body looks like and how they’re acting, that’s more predictive of how they’re doing with the heat than the body temperature alone. The other thing was, with I think you said the risk factors, right. The risk factors are I think we kind of knew the risk factors, but we didn’t really pay them as much attention.
Janice Baker 07:11
And that’s, the main risk factor for heat injury is a rapid change in the ambient temperature, humidity of the dogs environment. So when we see the most heat injuries, you know, it’s March, I live in North Carolina, where it’s pretty cool. It doesn’t ever get in the flatlands it never gets too hot, you know, horribly cold, but it’ll be 45 degrees, the average height will be 45 degrees for several weeks. And then suddenly, we’ll have a 70 degree day. And that doesn’t, you know, we’re running around in T shirts thinking this is beautiful. But that’s a huge, you know, 25 degrees, 30 degree change for the dog. And those are the days beautiful, 70 degree day when we think it’s fine. Those are the days that the dogs get heat injury, because they weren’t prepared for that they can’t take off clothes and put on clothes like we can. And they thermoregulate different to wear a tie we do.
Janice Baker 08:03
So the primary risk factor is, is your dog prepared to be in the temperature that it’s going to be today. And a really simple way of sort of estimating that is, look at the high, the average high temperature for the last two weeks, then the average high humidity. And if there’s going to be a 15 degree change, or a 15% humidity change, then we know your dog’s more at risk. And that’s a simple thing that anybody can calculate. Yeah, that’s super helpful. It doesn’t mean don’t work, your dog just means you have to be extra cautious and cool him down a lot during the day and things like that.
Kayla Fratt 08:43
Yeah, no, that makes perfect sense. And I can imagine, and I’m sure this is something you ran into with the Special Forces dogs, but you know, we just did some fieldwork in Guatemala in February, and we had been living in Central America for a while. So my dogs were acclimated. But I can imagine how do we flown from, you know, February in the Pacific Northwest down to Guatemala to do that work, we would have needed to take a week or two to get the dogs used to particularly the humidity down there absolutely. Would have been very, very challenging for our dogs.
Janice Baker 09:15
And you you hit on that a little bit earlier you asked me to clarify. I was talking about ambient temperature or rectal temperature. And an interesting thing about that is you know, I always I get a lot of inquiries through email or just questions when people say, you know, we want to make some kind of chart, like when what temperature should we stop and rest? The thing is, it depends on your dog’s acclamation and it depends on the individual dog within that environment. I worked on a lot of sled dog races up in Alaska. And I remember this one particular day, it was five degrees above zero fahrenheit, and it was with the windchill it was 25 below. I couldn’t feel my face. My feet were frozen and that was all done up in an Arctic sea. I shouldn’t, you know, should have been fine. I was just miserable. And it was right after the sun came up, which was about 930, 10 o’clock in the morning. And this team came in off the trail and and we always go up to the mushrooms and ask how their dogs doing. And he said, I’m going to rest my dogs are getting really hot. I can’t feel my face and your dogs are hot. Well, they were dogs that lived up above the Arctic Circle. And they’re used to subzero temperatures. So they’re used to living at 10 below or 20 below over the winter. And it’s five above. That’s too hot for those dogs. Yeah. And that, and that just blew my mind. It’s not the ambient temperature. It’s what the dogs used to. And if you can have a dog heat stroke at five, five degrees, well, I’m dying of hypothermia. It’s all about what you’re acclimated to.
Kayla Fratt 10:52
Yeah, so we had two different patrons asked this question. So Jess and Robin both asked if there are any tips for acclamation, or is it kind of just time in the environment?
Janice Baker 11:03
Yeah, that’s a great, great question. And I’ve seen this be misinterpreted or interpreted in the not so great way, we used to say in the army, you know, you take your dog, dog handler, you’re gonna deploy to Iraq, or Afghanistan or Africa or somewhere. When you get there, you have to acclimate the dog for two weeks. So what they were doing is going from these training programs, like these six week pre deployment training programs, where these dogs were the most fit and acclimated to heat that they’d ever be. And then they take them there and put them in their air conditioned little trailer hooch and let them sit for two weeks now. That’s not what we meant.
Janice Baker 11:40
What we meant was for about two weeks, your dog isn’t going to be able to work quite as much as it did before. So we say just incrementally, every day, challenge the dog a little bit more. So if you’re going to exercise the dog, if you’re going to base it on time, we’re going to go for a 15 minute walk the first day, and we’re going to add a nice leisurely pace, and it’s going to be 100 degrees outside as it was often there. The next the next day, we’re gonna go for a 20 minute walk in 100 degrees. Assuming it’s all flat ground, the next day, we’re gonna go for a 20 minute walk and 105 degrees. If that makes sense every day Yeah, increase one thing just like we do training dogs, we don’t train, we don’t change the entire environment and problem for the dog change one thing at a time. So that’s what we mean by acclamation.
Janice Baker 12:34
And what we know, this is some incredible work by Mike Davis, Dr. Mike Davis from Oklahoma State University. He looked at dogs in acclimating these working dogs that they put them into an environmentally controlled chamber. Chamber, meaning it’s a kennel, it sounds horribly scientific, but it’s where they could control the humidity and the temperature and they took them up to, they’d been at a lower temperature, and they took them up to mid to high 80s. And the first few days, the dogs had a higher panting rate and a higher heart rate. And after a couple of days, they didn’t anymore, but then their body temperature increased slightly as well in response to that hotter environment. So when their heart rate and their body to I mean, I’m sorry, their heart rate and their panting rate went back down to normal that told them the dogs were acclimating to that heat, the body temperature was higher, their temperature was a little bit higher, but the body didn’t care anymore. And that took just a couple of days.
Janice Baker 13:35
It’s incredible. Don’t waste still say two weeks arbitrarily, we say two weeks, because that sounds safe. And you know, that kind of coincides with like altitude and things like that, or other kinds of acclamation. But that’s basically it is when you get there, just be hyper aware that your dog probably won’t be able to perform like it used to. So test it out a little bit and every day, work a little bit harder and work a little bit harder. That’s that’s exactly what we mean.
Kayla Fratt 14:04
Yeah, that makes perfect sense. So what are some of the signs that we are looking for then kind of behaviorally or physiologically, you know, we’ve talked about, we’re not waiting until our dogs are seizing. Exactly. You know, maybe rectal temperature doesn’t necessarily tell us much as much as we would like if you’re not doing it really regularly and kind of know what your dog’s normal variation, right. So what are some of the things we should be looking at? And maybe, do you do you still do a lot of rectal body temperature and just have a chart per dog?
Janice Baker 14:35
Yeah, absolutely. So we, you know, when we’re doing research or we’re doing field observations and things we have the dogs swallow the little core temp sensors and have a little radio RFID pack on their back so we don’t have to insult them every couple of minutes with a rectal temperature. Well, we know the microchip things don’t really work. They’re not as accurate depending on if the sun is shining on that part of the skin. That or that ear temperatures as well. Because the ears are up, they’re getting hot. So in adverse or in extreme conditions like really hot, really cold, those other gadgets aren’t as accurate. So we’ve got to do the rectal temperature.
Janice Baker 15:11
So what we recommend is that dog handlers do a working temperature assessment, you know, sorry, now you’re just gonna have to put up with us for this one day, and then we’ll stop and take their temperature beforehand, take their temperature, sort of in that anticipation phase, when the dog starts getting the cues that he’s going to go to work. Like my dog, if I picked up his leash, he lost his mind. Other dogs like police dogs, sometimes it’s lights and sirens are going really fast, the dog starts getting amped up, and dogs all will have their own cue.
Janice Baker 15:39
So take it again, then take it every couple of minutes during work. And then when you stop work, take it every couple of minutes again, until it goes back to baseline. Because what we found one study we did with Dr. Aaron Perry up at Southern Illinois University with a bunch of search dogs, human remains detection dogs, we found that for an average of six minutes after you stopped work, and as much as 18 minutes, their temperature continued to increase.
Janice Baker 16:07
And other studies have shown that as well, with different kinds of dogs, but this, this happened to be ours. So when you get done searching and you just throw the dog in the vehicle or the kennel or wherever you’re not out of the woods, then, right? It’s yeah, you have to wait until you see that temperature go back down. And that’s, that’s why dog handlers should get go out there and suck it up once with your dog and get that working temperature.
Janice Baker 16:33
But after that the behavioral signs typically are, we put it in the context of if you’re throwing a ball to your dog, you’re doing repeated task, it could be any training task. And if you throw the ball to the dog, you see the dog run out there like crazy, you know, ears back tail out, gets my dog used to put his head down and like do a cheetah flip over himself when he hit the ball. Yeah, and everybody cringe because without he, he’d break himself. And then and then they come running back. And after a couple of those, you see that intensity that that drive stays the same. They might be slower, because they’re tired, but their ears are still back their tail straight out. They’re going like crazy. But when the we call it the recovery phase, when they come back to you. It’s not as fast as if you can picture it from overhead, they start doing this, this arc out. And they might circle around you a couple of times before they give you back the ball.
Kayla Fratt 17:30
My dog had that a couple of times.
Janice Baker 17:31
Yeah, exactly, yeah. And then when they really start to get tired, so that’s just normal. That’s normal thermal stress and normal muscle fatigue. But then you start seeing him do things like we had, we used to have this two acre, fenced field that we would work dogs, and we’d see them go over on the perimeter. And it’s like, I’ll be there in a second. I just got to sniff at this thing and pee over here. And I’ll be back in a second. You know, they start trying to find dog things to do. And then you’d call them and they’d come back and they’re like, wait, wait, wait, I gotta pee one more time. And what I’m doing is they’re like, look human. I’m a dog. I’m a lab, a Malinois, and whatever, retriever breed. If I have to chase this ball, I have no choice. So stop throwing the stupid ball because you’re gonna kill me.
Janice Baker 18:20
And so what what they’re doing is, is taking that time to cool down or to rest a little bit. And so now you’re in the more moderate thermal stress, you’re pushing their limits. When we see the absolute stop. This is their limit, you have to stop. The final signs that I’d say this is their last warning to you is one is uncontrolled panting so they dropped their ball or their toy or whatever their reward is. They have no interest in that reward anymore. Because they just need to pant. And they’re like, you know, I’m done with this game. I’m not. I’m not doing this. And the other is the uncontrolled panting where there’s nothing you can do to get them to stop panting normally, dogs panting you show them your toy or a piece of food or something cool. And they they close their mouth. Yeah, you know exactly. And they get all happy. When they don’t. Not only are they averting their eyes, and they don’t care, but they’re not taking the toy.
Janice Baker 19:18
And we see some hybrids of that, where they’ll take the toy and drop it. Because that that toy drive is so high, they’ll take it or they’ll take it and run over into shade and play away. And that was you know, we think that oh, they’re being disobedient. They’re playing keep away. We’ve got to work them out of that well right now, the reason they’re doing that is because they don’t want to die. And and so we say the uncontrolled panning and the no interest in the toy or physically trying to take the toy away from you and put it somewhere else. And they don’t necessarily want it they’ll take it over there and drop it. Those are those are sort of our last warning signs that injury is imminent.
Kayla Fratt 19:59
Yeah. If that makes sense, I know what I’ve noticed with my younger dog in particular who’s a, he’s a smooth coated coated Border Collie. And everyone always thinks that he’s – he’s smooth coated. And he’s a bloomer. Also, he’s mostly gray, and then my other is a rough coated black border collie. So everyone always asks how Barley does in the heat, the black one, it’s actually Niffler, the gray one who seems to struggle more, which is something I want to get into in a moment. But with Niffler, what he’ll do a lot on the wind farms is he would go and he would go and lie in the shade of the turbine, the wind turbine, the the only shade in the environment. And the first couple times, you know, I thought he was alerting to something because he was alert. It’s also a down, they started being able to kind of see the difference in like how he’s sprawled. And being like, yep.
Janice Baker 20:43
Yeah, increasing the surface area. Yeah. I’m just trying to, yeah, be as large and flat as possible.
Kayla Fratt 20:51
Yeah. And like, you know, that wasn’t actually upwind of where we were going. I don’t think you could have caught odor and come back over there. Like, okay, we’ll still take the break. Like obviously, you need this even though Yeah, you know, those wind farm searches usually took us 15 To 20 minutes. So it felt to me like he “should” be able to do that without taking breaks. Right. But he wasn’t and yeah, kind of listening to that was was challenging, but like, very important, because yeah, I don’t want to kill my dog. Right.
Janice Baker 21:19
And you brought up a really important point with, if there’s any veterinarians that listen to this, or veterinary personnel is listen to the handler that handlers know their dogs. And you know, people will come into our clinic we everyone in the world in the Fayetteville North Carolina, southern pines area, has a trophy Malinois because they’re cool dogs. And, you know, a lot of people are military, ex military. And so we’d have a lot of Malinois come in, that weren’t working dogs and, or even if they were the handler, or the owner would say, my dog is just, he’s really tired, or something’s wrong with him today. And meanwhile, the dog is like trying to eat the bench or the couch or just nuts. And I’m thinking like, there’s nothing wrong with this dog. But it’s, if a dog is just sitting there calmly, and you think, “Wow, what a well behaved dog,” or I do as a veterinarian. And they’re saying, “This isn’t him,” we have to believe that. Because they, you know, you know, your dog. And if, again, if your dog normally takes 15 minutes to search an area, but now they they’re going slower, and they want to take a lot of breaks. They’re telling you something.
Kayla Fratt 22:26
Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I, the two times I’ve taken Barley to the emergency that have both been because he’s refused food, which is just like, it’s such, it’s like with Niffler, I again, I would I wouldn’t take him to the emergency vet at all for that. He’s kind of a picky guy, who is, he’s very concerned about his figure and often doesn’t finish food when I’m trying to fatten him up. He’s always he’s chronically underweight. Intact boys. And then yeah, my neutered older boy. Yeah, if he refuses food, it’s like, something’s wrong. We’re off to the ER. Right. So okay, so this is a little bit of a myth busting tangent, but is there anything behind coat color or coat type? Or is it really much more kind of individual and acclimation?
Janice Baker 23:09
So we know, we know in other species, sheep, cattle, horses, we know that, especially in animals that produce meat or milk or, or produce something as, as their job as an animal, they, milk production will go down, and cows that have more dark spots and light spots or dark areas. We know in other lots of other species, that dark coat negatively affects thermoregulation. And, and we see that we can measure that in animals that, especially that produce milk, that that goes down. So we know that is a thing. And we know the physics of light and dark surfaces and what we know that already. So but I’ve you know, looking back in emergency over 20 years, I don’t think I’ve seen any pattern of color in heatstroke.
Janice Baker 24:03
And so we did a study with Southern Illinois University a couple of years ago, several graduate students and a big team of undergrad students and then Dr. Aaron Perry. We will we had about 10 Min 10 Labradors, black Labradors, 10, yellow Labradors. And they were all from the same kennel. They’re being trained as service dogs. So they all ate the same thing for 60 days prior. They lived in the same kennel, they got the same amount of exercise, everything was controlled. And we just simply had the undergrad students walk them around a horse arena on a leash for 30 minutes in the sun. And it wasn’t really a hot day was 82 something like that. And cloud cover we’d have to stop while the clouds rolled over and wait till they left because we were specifically testing solar radiation. And we tested we It wasn’t very invasive as we don’t like to do you know, lots of probes and blinds and tubes and things and dogs. It was we did thermal Thermal scanning of their eyes and their skin folds in other places, we did the core temperature readings and the rectal temperature, we did panting rate and water consumption. And as all because those are things that a handler can do in the field. Yeah, not so much with the thermo thing, thermal thing. But that was just kind of a fun thing to add, of course, but we didn’t, you know, if you have sensors going into their carotid artery, you can’t do that in the field. So it’s not practical.
Janice Baker 25:28
So anyway, what we found, we found no difference in the body temperature between the black and yellow dots. And what we expected, you know, our hypothesis was, we won’t find a difference, because we’ll find something that black dogs are doing, working a little bit harder to keep cool, like their panting rate will be higher, their their water consumption will be higher, their heart rate will be higher, something will be, they’ll be working a little harder to stay at the same temperature. And we didn’t find that. And so the only thing we found was that the black dogs cooled down faster afterwards, which told us there’s still something that the black dogs are doing to work a little bit harder, they were in overdrive to cool down faster. But we didn’t know what it was because we weren’t doing the right kind of test, you know, the cardiac invasive stuff.
Janice Baker 26:20
But from a practical standpoint, what we said is, yes, black dogs probably, in theory, get more solar radiation, and therefore, in theory are more susceptible. But from a practical standpoint, we didn’t see a difference. The dogs, I wonder if are adapting to it.
Kayla Fratt 26:37
Yeah, I mean, that kind of makes sense to me in a way, and I am not pretty far from an expert on this. But um, you know, when you think of the cattle, it seems like most of their heat would be coming from the sun and like just solar radiation. And that’s what’s cooking lamb versus the dogs are exercising, so so much more of it is coming from the heat radiation kind of internally, and that wouldn’t change quite as much, when based on the color does that? Is that something you’ve thought?
Janice Baker 27:03
Yeah, we did. And we had to, we had to really stand sort of defended defend our methods to the reviewers, the peer reviewers, because the dogs were walking, and they said that was a form of exercise, and what what, how did that contribute to the, to the very mild increase in body temperature that we saw, and we wanted to just have them stand there, but with just for a variety of ethical reasons, with having poor undergrads stand in the sun for 30 minutes, and, and the dog standing there bored and not getting anything out of it? We chose to walk them. But the way we defended that was that they were all walking at the same pace, right?
Kayla Fratt 27:47
Well, I would imagine, you know, when we’re working, the dogs are moving anyway. Like, I don’t necessarily care how different my dogs are, when they’re sitting in the sun versus running into each other. I want to know how they are when they’re when they’re working. Right? That, to me seems great.
Janice Baker 28:03
We just walked them. And they were they were actually spaced out. There’d be a black lab, a yellow lab, a black lab, yellow lab, and every five minutes another one would leave finished their 30 minutes and another one would take their place and start. And so we wanted to make sure that it wasn’t like we tested all the yellow dogs first, and then the black dogs and, you know, controlling that.
Janice Baker 28:24
So yeah, we did get some pushback on that in the in the peer review. But what we said in the end was that they were they were working minimally, the exercise wasn’t really none of them were really panting. They I mean, they were a little bit because they’re happy to be there. But none of them were excessively panting. So we think that they the fact that they were working at the same degree, so to speak, the same exertion, probably, if we’d had them actually running or working, then you can’t control who runs faster, or slower or whatever. Right. Yeah. So it makes perfect sense. So the consensus on that is, it’s still nobody else has studied that in dogs. There’s been some other sort of dermatologic studies on medical uncooked color, but nobody’s really studied that. And it’s a small number of dogs and 20 dogs total. So certainly, it needs to be repeated to see if there’s any difference. But our consensus was Don’t Don’t worry about don’t selectively get light colored dogs because you’re worried about heat stroke. You can get just get the dog that works the best.
Kayla Fratt 29:34
That’s great to hear. Yeah, because it’s hard enough to find the right working dog anyway. Exactly. Without worrying about color I do. I’m a little crazy on coat type right now, but we just had a big tick disease scare with one. So now I’m, I’m very, nope, I want dogs that are easier to tick check.
Janice Baker 29:52
That’s a great practical, right.
Kayla Fratt 29:54
Yeah, but it’s not it’s not so much the heat. As as the ticks,
Janice Baker 29:58
The practical, absolutely.
Kayla Fratt 30:00
Uh, yeah. So okay, aside from it sounds like our risk factors and our you know, it’s the actual ambient temperature, it’s the humidity, it’s what the dog is used to, I would imagine some amount of the dog’s fitness level, is there anything else that we should be thinking about as we’re kind of assessing our dog’s risk.
Janice Baker 30:18
So if we look at every, there aren’t a lot of studies. But if we look at every study available, and at some point, we’ve looked at every study available, and especially the most, the most telling, as far as fitness goes, again, Dr. Mike Davis did a great study with, with detection dogs, where they looked at all sorts of strategies to improve their tolerance to heat. And over several years, they looked at electrolyte solutions, and conditioning, and all of this, all these other things, the only thing that consistently made them more tolerant to, to heat and longer terms of exercise was exercise. So it was conditioning.
Janice Baker 31:00
And so just like human athletes, just like, just I mean, even though we don’t thermoregulate the same, the if you want your dog to be able to work for an eight hour day and 100 degree temperatures, or whatever temperature is normal for your environment, then you have to be able to train that much. Yeah, you have to, you have to practice, right, you can’t, you can’t just you know, I briefly when I was younger and more physically fit for enthusiastic. I delved into the marathon world for a little while, the adventure, adventure, race world, and there was a big thing about don’t train 26 miles to train 12 miles. And that didn’t make any sense to me, if I only train 12 miles, what’s going to happen when I actually go out? And do mentally, I’m going to be like, Why isn’t this over? You know, and so I don’t really know the science behind training for a marathon.
Janice Baker 31:54
But with dogs, we know that if you want your dog to be able to perform at a certain level, you have to train at that level. And, and not not like go out tomorrow and do it. But work up to that work up to that level. And yep, consistently. You know, cooling vests aren’t really practical there, they can be helpful in some situations, electrolyte solutions, and formulations never been shown to be actually advantageous to dogs, because dogs don’t sweat so they don’t lose electrolytes from the exercise like we do work, when we give them electrolyte solutions, thinking that’s helping them tolerate the heat or exercise better that we’re extrapolating that from us, they their kidneys, and their body knows that, you know, if if the electrolytes, say potassium, for example, gets off by a tiny, tiny amount in the blood, the heart stops. So the minute the or something bad happens the heart. So the minute the second, the body realizes that, wait a minute, I’ve got more electrolytes than I needed. And I gave them to me, but I didn’t need them because I never lost them in the first place. They’re just gonna be sent out in the urine, immediate right?
Janice Baker 33:04
And so yeah, electrolyte solution, some people really promote that. But there’s been multiple studies that show not only when you give a commercial electrolyte solution, they’re not it’s the change isn’t detectable in the blood or the urine, meaning either there’s not really what they say there’s in there, or the body’s just very, very quick. Fixing it might it might be right. And the other is that that there’s no change in performance. There was a great study that the Penn vet working dog center Cindy otter did a couple of years ago, looking at hydration strategies. And they gave a chicken flavored electrolyte solution to dogs and those dogs had more body water at the end of the day, meaning that they stayed more hydrated, which is great. We got all excited about that. But then we figured out they figured out and shared it with the rest of us that the dogs were drinking it. It wasn’t the electrolytes. They were drinking it because it tasted like chicken tasted good.
Kayla Fratt 34:01
Yeah, right. So that was my first guess. Because I put boullion cubes and water sometimes to encourage the dogs to drain. Exactly. Which is something I guess I remember taking in my wilderness first responder course you know, they were they really emphasized to us in one of my courses, you know, dehydration and heat stress are not the same thing. You can’t treat heat stress just by drinking. And I guess how, you know, again, because humans and dogs have pretty big differences. What is the link between dehydration and heat stress in dogs? You know, do they tend to come together or anything?
Janice Baker 34:40
Yeah, they do. I mean, they do as well in humans but like you said they’re two separate things that you need to you need to treat separately. Right? You need to you need to action should say address separately. With with dogs. We know that when they’re dehydrated, they’re they’re not moving to the blood. The heat has to go from the body into the blood to the we always just say the core meaning the lungs so they can breathe it out. And the bit, the ability to dissipate that heat relies a lot on cardiac output. And if they’re dehydrated, they don’t they’re, you know, their blood pressures, lower the cardiac, cardiac output slower, they’re not able to circulate and pick up that, that heat and get rid of it as easy.
Janice Baker 35:26
Also, the one of the main reasons is that the heat is dissipated, it’s picked up by water, water can hold a certain amount of kilocalories of heat. So it needs water to pick up that heat and get rid of it in evaporation. Right? Right. So if they that’s why humidity, if it’s really humid, there’s got to be that gradient for the water to you know, like a high humid area with a lot of heat, it has to have a colder, drier place to go. So if it’s really humid outside, and the humidity and the heat is hotter and wetter than what the dog is putting out, it doesn’t dissipate as easy.
Janice Baker 36:05
So, yeah, so yeah, anyway, there is a big tie into that there’s been not a lot of studies, but a few older studies that showed that when you dehydrate the dogs, they get hotter, quicker, and they don’t cool down as fast. So and that’s just because of the lower cardiac output and not not able, their body’s not able to pick up that heat and circulate it and get it out through the lungs. Okay, but in treating it. Those two different things cooling the body, you can’t just you will cool the body somewhat if they have water if they drink water if you give him IV fluids, but you really need physical cooling from water or something from the outside to get them cold.
Kayla Fratt 36:50
Yeah. Which I think that brings us to so Jess and Robin again, both asked, What about what are some of those most effective ways to manage our canines temperature in the field? Right,
Janice Baker 37:00
So let’s talk first about normal dogs and your goal. The goal of not letting them get heatstroke is always there. That’s a given. But say your your goal is to continue working even in this hot environment. So what we know from just a few studies, and we’d love to be able to repeat this in dogs is that intermittent cooling between bouts of exercise extends their endurance. Exponentially.
Janice Baker 37:27
A sort of one study, one study showed that if the dogs were cooled down intermittently to they would run for 15 minutes on treadmill. And then they’d stop dogs would either be put into a kennel and allowed to rest for 30 minutes and at which time their body would normally their temperature would decrease to baseline which was under 103. Normally, they’d all get down to normal temperature after 30 minutes, but half of the dogs would be actively cooled. And the first phase of that, well, what they found on one study found, then they’d go back to dogs would go back and run for another 15 minutes. And they repeat that four times.
Janice Baker 38:06
And what they found is that if the dogs were allowed to passively cool, they got hotter faster with each, and they got higher temperatures each subsequent bout of exercise, but if they cooled them rapidly with these ice packs and, and cold water. So they’d rapidly cooled them to baseline and once they reached baseline after like five minutes, they’d put them back in the kennel to rest for the remainder of that 30 minutes, those dogs would run, their temperatures would stay lower for longer in subsequent bouts of exercise. Well another study that sort of followed that they let the dogs run to fatigue, which fatigue just means it doesn’t mean collapse.
Janice Baker 38:45
What it means is a very specific set of criteria like slowing down or looking at the handler asking to be off to get off the treadmill, you know, they of course didn’t run them to any kind of stress. But but when they would rapidly cool the dogs between bouts of exercise or if they were more cooling or they had active cooling while they were running. They ran up to 160% longer. So this time, this time, instead of running for 15 minutes and stopping them, they let the dogs run to fatigue. And then they just measured when that was and that was up to 160% longer Wow. Then when they weren’t cooled so what we know is active cooling.
Janice Baker 39:27
While you’re in the field, don’t wait until you think your dogs too hot. If you do an object detection problem and your dog comes back to you cool them down, hose them with water like when we’re training. We have the little kiddie pools and we have buckets of ice water that you can sponge over them and stuff. So rapidly cool them when they’re committed. When they immediately get done. And they they’re that increases their endurance throughout the day, which is incredible. I mean, it happens in human athletes, but we really try to not compare humans to dogs just because we are cooling mechanisms are so different, right? Yeah. But so that’s in the field, call your dog down during as he’s going along during the day.
Kayla Fratt 40:08
Yeah, that makes sense. And that actually gels with, it’s interesting. So I think when we hear, okay, so you don’t want to act, you know, you want your dog to acclimate. So you don’t want them to be hanging on an AC all the time. But like, for example, when we work on the wind farms, we drive between wind turbines, so it’s like a 20 minute search, and then a, you know, 5, 10, 20 minute drive, and then another 20 minutes search. And, but we would be blasting the AC kind of in between those. And I would also I would have a cooling vest that would freeze. So it was like a frozen, contest sort of thing. And then when we’d get to like 2pm or so and we were getting out for our last or second to last turbine, that’s when I would like break that out and put it on the dog, maybe not even while they were searching, but just in between each search.
Janice Baker 40:51
So that’s that’s exactly what they used in that first study, they use ice packs, they use a cooling vest, with just a vest that had slots for big icicles. From a practical standpoint, if you don’t have some sort of really good refrigeration unit, you put it in your car by the time you get to where you need it. But, but if you have some way to keep it cold. While you’re out there, that’s exactly what they used.
Janice Baker 41:18
And there was another study with police dogs that they are law enforcement dogs where they ran and did a bite problem either wearing nothing called them naked, or they weren’t Kevlar vest or an ice pack. And what they found was they didn’t, they all got just as hot doing the problem. But the dogs that were wearing nothing cooled down faster than than anything else. And they did see a trend, it was only a small number of like five or six dogs. So they saw a trend with the cooling with the vest as well.
Janice Baker 41:54
But what in almost every cooling vest study I’ve seen that included this, the handlers reported that their dogs appeared more comfortable if they used a cooling vest. So interesting, just subjectively, they said my dog was less restless. He wasn’t, you know, splayed out as much seemed more comfortable. And I’ve seen that with the cooling mat one. One study that was done with a very expensive prototype of a cooling mat. The cooling mat didn’t really work, as well as putting them in a tub of water. But one reason is they didn’t want to sit, they didn’t want to lay down and they were just standing on it. They weren’t afraid. So but but those cooling mats if you can get them to lay down on them. Yeah, that’s a great, great idea.
Kayla Fratt 42:39
Yeah, yeah. And then when we were in, you know, when we were in Guatemala, we didn’t have refrigeration at camp, let alone being freezers with us anywhere. So that was you know, I was hosing barley down with you know, my Camelback and trying to get it in his armpits and his ears and kind of his any inguinal area. And then if we came across water that didn’t look, you know, totally potentially came in infested or anything really terrifying. We were letting him go in or encouraging him to go in and, you know, let them lie down and kind of take a break as long as we needed. Is there anything else that you know, we could be carrying with us or thinking about? It really seems like it’s kind of its kind of water ice fans?
Janice Baker 43:21
Yeah. So you know, the traditional wet, the traditional way of cooling down, we’ve always had wet and windy, spray them with fan, spray them with water and then then put a fan on them. And that was partially because that is very effective. But partially, we were afraid for years and years to use ice water or cold water because the myth was you cause peripheral vasoconstriction.
Janice Baker 43:44
But recent. I mean, actually, there was a study in like 1990 ad that showed that ice water was the fastest way to cool. But no, nobody’s really, that was that study was done for the purpose of the space program and buried in a obscure journal that no veterinarian is going to read. So nobody ever knew that was there. And we’ve been saying for decades. Don’t use ice water. And it sounded good. I said it. I learned it in school. The idea was it supposedly causes peripheral vasoconstriction which was to the blood vessels in the skin close down and they can’t get rid of heat as much. And other people say they’ll start shivering, it’ll warm them up. Like no, physics doesn’t work that way. You can’t put something cold on something hot and warm it up just can’t. The shivering isn’t that much. That’ll make them warm.
Janice Baker 44:32
But the thing is that dogs, after 103 ish degrees Fahrenheit, they don’t use radiation, just heat coming off the body as their primary means of cooling effect that’s negligible compared to panting so they weren’t using that method anyway. So if you cause peripheral vasoconstriction well, you’re going to just push that hot blood to the core. Well, people’s Okay, well, that’s bad. You don’t want the heat going to the heart and the lungs, we gotta get it there anyway to get it out of the body, right? So we don’t really know if it’s good, bad or otherwise, but we, we know that it’s not harmful.
Janice Baker 45:12
Another argument against it is, I see this on social media a lot. They say, Well, you put a heat stroke down, you’ll put them in shock if you put them in cold water or use ice water. Well, they’re already in shock. And, because, yeah, yeah, and, and one of the main treatments for shock is peripheral vascular constriction with medicine. That is oppressors. So isn’t that kind of a treatment for it? We don’t know. We don’t know if it works. I mean, in theory, it but you know, my theory is no, but better than their theory.
Janice Baker 45:43
So what we do know though, Dr. Emily Hall and her colleagues in the UK have been doing some great work on retrospective data about 800 dogs. And one of the things that they found is that they’re, they’re pretty sure that the ice water cold water thing is a myth. I mean, we kind of knew it, but we didn’t have any data. Yeah. And, of course, they’re looking back at dogs that have already, the records of dogs that have already heatstroke, you can’t do cause and effect, conclusions based on that.
Janice Baker 46:17
But what they’re things that they’re finding is that dogs that are cool, I mean, you should talk to them, have them on your podcast, dogs are great. Dogs that are cooled, prior to arrival at the veterinary care are far more likely to survive. And we kind of knew that already from other studies, but they really brought it home. The other studies were like 50 dogs, and they did 800, some dogs, oh my God. And so they’re busting a lot of those myths. Another one that they’re busting is that once a heat injury, always more at risk for you to injury, we’ve known that’s not really true. But we keep, we keep saying it. And they were able to show that pretty, pretty solidly with their data, which is, which is awesome. So the ice water, you’re probably not going to have ice water available wherever you are, especially where you work.
Janice Baker 47:06
But if you have if you have it, you know, here’s the here’s the prime example. You’re at some kind of dog event, a training event, a trial, a public event, and somebody has that big, cooler, full of ice cubes and water bottles. Don’t be afraid to use that, too. You know, because we say don’t use, if that’s all you have used it. Yeah, but it doesn’t mean don’t use anything else and just selectively dunk them in ice for what it means is all that stuff where we said that’s bad, don’t be, it’s not bad. If that’s what you have use it, basically use anything that’s colder than the dog and put on the dog and running.
Janice Baker 47:46
We believe that running water versus water that sort of sitting on the dog is probably going to be better based on horses and other things. Because if you ever put water on a dog that’s really hot, you know, hose him down, and you feel that water that warms up instantly. Yeah, and so if you can get it grabs all the heat it can out of the dog, and then it can’t really go. Right. So if you can continue to hose them down, or like you said, find a stream or find a body of water that’s not inherently dangerous to the dog, and you. That’s, you know, that’s what we recommend.
Janice Baker 48:22
So in, in a practical thing, if you’re training, or I’m sorry, if you’re not training, if you’re working or training, and you’re working out of a vehicle, or a stationary place that’s close enough to ice, what we suggest, we get these little tiny, these little tiny coolers, like the six pack, you can’t see my hands, six pack coolers. And, for example, when I worked with the Navy dogs and special operations dogs in the morning, my technician and I would fill those with ice, like crushed ice and water, and then a couple of sponges in there. And we put one of those in each truck. Because if you take that same amount of probably three gallons of water, and you dump it over the dog, it’s just gonna roll over the dog and go to ground. But if you take that sponge out and you sponge it over the dog everywhere, like you said, under the armpits and everything, then you put that sponge back in the in the cooler and you take out the other sponge, and then you repeatedly do that you sort of get more bang for your buck, so to speak out of that small amount of water. And then they would come back at noon usually for lunch, take a break and training and we’d swap we’d refill them.
Janice Baker 49:35
So one of those if you do nothing if you never open it up one of those coolers would stay really cold for about half a day in the back of a really hot truck. And then so if you’re if you’re somewhere where you are close enough to civilization, which most handlers in the US are like that you can go by a convenience store and get a bag of ice. And yeah, put put in there and do that twice a day. It’s a total of about $5. And now you have this really rapid cooling method with you.
Kayla Fratt 50:08
Yeah, and I would say, most of the time, we do have access to a freezer at least like at night, once a day, something like that, where we should be able to do that, you know. And in Guatemala, luckily, one of the things we saw in Guatemala was our daily highs weren’t that high. And we were always in the shade because we’re in dense jungle. Right, right. The highs were high, but it wasn’t it was like 85. You know, it didn’t really get much worse than that.
Janice Baker 50:38
I imagine it’s really humid, very humid.
Kayla Fratt 50:42
Yeah, it was really the humidity that that was killing the dogs. More than more than the heat I suspect and kind of lack of airflow, lack of wind.
Janice Baker 50:50
Right? Right. We really haven’t tackled the humidity thing yet. Not a lot of not a lot of effort has been gone into how to counteract the humidity around dogs where, you know, you can put cooling methods on the dog. And that makes his body colder and or cooler and, and helps combat the humans really a little bit. But we can make the environment around the dog cooler, but we can’t make it less humid. If that makes sense.
Kayla Fratt 51:22
Yeah, you can’t just like fill them with fill the environment with desiccating beads. Exactly. Yeah, no, that’s true. Yeah, I’ve always just Yeah, we just have to deal with it with here.
Kayla Fratt 51:34
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Kayla Fratt 52:07
So I think this is something I remember learning from your your really lovely webinar on heat stress. And basically, so this is kind of circling back to the ice thing. So it seems like the most important thing is to get them actively cooled as soon as possible. And to kind of reduced the amount of time that they’re in heat stress as much as possible. And that’s kind of where the theory with ice being more helpful than not comes from, right, because it’s really about getting them as cool as possible as fast as possible. Right.
Janice Baker 52:38
Okay, people are concerned, rightfully so that, you know, when a dog truly does have heat stress or heat stroke, they, which I should clarify, we’re not calling it that anymore. Because those are based heat stress, heat, exhaustion, heat stroke, those are based on body temperature, those descriptions, so now we’re calling mild, moderate and severe heat injury. And the severity increases with the more neurologic signs. So the less conscious the dog is, and the more.
Janice Baker 53:06
So that’s kind of what we’re mild heat injury, moderate and then severe. The rapid cooling now, what we used to think that if you call them down too fast, they would get too cold. And based on a couple of retrospective studies from 1996 and 2000 forms respectively, which were very good studies, but in small numbers of dogs. One of the things that they found in both of those studies, that was the dogs that presented to the veterinarian, lower than they said hypothermic, which clinically we consider like 98 and below, but normal dog temperature 99 and below, if they presented lower than normal temperature, they were more likely to die. And that was misinterpreted.
Janice Baker 53:49
Now, these are retrospective studies, so you can’t show a cause and effect relationship. You can only show show associations, right? So you we misinterpret that as a veterinary community as if you let the dog get too cold that will lead to death. And I’ve seen it multiple times with canine handlers. You know, there there are owners, the dog has a heat stroke, or severe heat injury, they cool it down with really cold water and then the dog dies and then the veterinary personnel I just saw this on Facebook yesterday by a veterinarian blaming the handler or the owner for killing the dog. Like know the heat stroke killed the dog.
Janice Baker 54:29
And so one of the things that that Dr. Hall and her colleagues in UK showed in some of their work was that this is something we we kind of knew we knew this but we needed somebody to scientifically study it was and they they did a great job was that they’re not getting caught they’re they’re not dying because they got too cold after you call them. They’re too cold because they’re dying. And they’re in shock. And, and they can’t they do lose their ability to thermoregulate for Several hours two days after they have a severe heat injury. So if you pull them down a lot really fast, they’re gonna continue to cool.
Janice Baker 55:08
So you have to stop that cooling when they get to about 104, we used to say 103. Now 104, because we know that’s a safe temperature for dogs, and then be prepared to warm them back up again. So, if you call them in the field, and they get down to 104, by the time you get to the veterinarian 1020 30 minutes away, they’re gonna be lower than that. And so now, it’s completely counterintuitive, but you might have cooled them down in the field, they have to have the heat on in your car. Right to keep them warm.
Kayla Fratt 55:38
Yeah, because their body is so I mean, it’s in shock. Yeah, right. This, I’m so glad you brought up that that paper because that, you know, as you were explaining it, I totally made the same logical fallacy that these veterinarians were making. But it’s almost like we’re about to do a snake a couple snake episodes. And it’s almost like saying that, Oh, antivenin is what’s causing these dogs to you know, get bitten by a snake. And then he had anti vet, and then they got the anti venom and like he still died, exactly. Like the anti venom was not the problem.
Janice Baker 56:07
And we see that a lot in retrospective studies of people that aren’t, you know, a veterinarian in school, we don’t really get a lot of, of training on how to interpret studies. Some, some places are better than the others we get you get that when in your specialty training. But if you’re a general practitioner, you don’t get that. And and so we do that a lot. We say, the dogs that got this medicine were more likely to die. Well, no, the dogs that this wasn’t a randomly controlled study.
Kayla Fratt 56:37
Right, the dogs got the medicine because they were in trouble.
Janice Baker 56:40
Because they were the worst dogs. Yeah, they were they were in the worst shape. And it’s what they say that that’s one of the other brilliant things that Dr. Hall and her colleagues did. And they have a great podcast out there as well, that people can listen to I have to track that I’ll get back with you afterwards, please do. But they talk all about their work, because I feel kind of silly talking about their work when they should be talking about it. But it’s great work. And we’re all excited about it.
Janice Baker 57:04
So one of the things that they did is they got their data from primary care, general practice veterinarians. Because most dogs go to general practice, they don’t go to universities, the sickest dogs go to universities, and the sickest dogs whose owners have exponentially more money, meaning that they’re less likely to get euthanized for financial reasons, all these selection bias.
Janice Baker 57:30
So they said, Look, we’re not we’ve got these studies from universities, but they don’t represent the the majority of dogs in the world, or in the UK that are getting heatstroke because those dogs are going to general practitioners, family practice that neurons. And their data was different. It was different than what we have from universities, the dogs are presenting hotter than the 106, which was the, you know, what, if they get to 106, they’re more likely to die.
Janice Baker 57:59
They sort of dispelled that, because the the general practitioners are usually right in your neighborhood, you’re getting you get to them quicker. Yeah, and they, they have different treatment methods. And the people don’t necessarily have $10,000 to spend on after treatment, so they have to treat differently. So that very thing you’re saying is the enemy dogs is going anywhere, and they’re not dying from the event and they’re dying from the snake bite. Right? When it comes to cooling, those dogs were dying. Yes, dogs that were dying are more likely to have a lower average body temperature because they’re dying.
Janice Baker 58:41
And that’s what happens when when living things die, they start to not not post death, cooling, we’re talking about being in shock and not being able to maintain your body temperature. So they say that rapid cooling or ice water cooling. If they get too cold, you’re it’s going to cause blood clotting disorders, it’s going to cause blood sludging that’s not really a thing. But they, they say it’ll cause blood sludging it’ll cause DIC or disseminated intravascular coagulation. That’s that’s caused because they got too hot. We know that it’s that’s a scientific fact. We know that the platelets and the clotting factors and everything breaks down when the body gets too hot. So we can’t blame it on getting too cold. We have to blame it on Yeah. So that the cook time, the cook time, as we call it, you have to decrease the cook time.
Kayla Fratt 59:33
Yeah, that makes sense. Yeah. So just do everything you can to get him cool. So I’ve got two questions from patrons. And then I think we’re just about done unless there’s anything we need to come back and re clarify. So Jess, this is a little bit of a longer question, and I’m hoping it’s going to make sense to you. That’s kind of two different questions. So what is the line at which it makes sense to stop and let the dog rest? And she’s kind of talking about where is the line between pushing them a little bit to help them and acclimate, versus pushing them into a dangerous zone. And then with that, she’s kind of wondering how do you figure out how hot is too hot for a given dog. And I think we’ve touched on both of these things. But maybe if we can get that, those two things in one soundbite.
Janice Baker 1:00:15
Sure. To reiterate that, it’s absolutely up to the individual dog. So you can’t go by body temperature, you can’t go by ambient temperature. too hot for the dog is when the dog starts showing those sort of final behavioral aspects, refusing to come back to you at all, not interested in whatever their reward is. And uncontrolled panting that’s when you know that too hot. And that is you see, that’s not based at all on body temperature. It’s nice to know what your dog’s temperature is. Because maybe today it’s hotter than normal, like you said, with your dog in the the amount of time. Wow, my dog usually runs. Pretty cool. 106 and 808. Today, that’s different from my dog and my dogs acting different. I should stop that. And that. So that was one question. What was the other question? Yeah.
Kayla Fratt 1:01:10
How do you figure out too hot? It’s too hot for a given dog?
Janice Baker 1:01:13
Oh, yeah. That’s right. The incremental thing when you’re working with your dog trying to get them to, to improve their acclamation. Touching back on that is that that incremental, let’s say, today, we walk for a mile in, in 90 degree weather and 85% humidity. Tomorrow, we find a time of day that those, those environmental conditions are going to be the same and we walk a little bit longer 25%, we generally say 25%, increase whatever it is, by that much, or by the duration by that much. And, and then you observe your dog, if they can handle it, if they can handle it just fine. And they didn’t appear behaviorally any different than they were before the day before. Then the next day, you can add another increment. Now if they don’t, if they really seem to struggle, they show that uncontrolled panting, or the refusal to work or avoiding coming back to you or avoiding doing the work, then the next day, you do the same thing again.
Kayla Fratt 1:02:18
Do you layer in any, like higher intensity things as well, as you’re acclimating? Or is it all kinds of walking?
Janice Baker 1:02:26
Yeah, so I’m just giving walking, because that’s the very baseline. If you’re already starting out with a dog that’s super fit, then you wouldn’t start with walking. Okay. Does that make sense? Yeah, I’m just saying like, if you’re starting from day one, you’re gonna you’re gonna do that walk, if you already know, you can do a walk, trot for for an hour or whatever, start started that, right. And yeah, and so there’s, you can increase the duration. At a Set Intensity, you can increase the intensity at a set duration, or you can increase the temperature. Or you can treat cruise temperature, right. And using the South Park reference from whatever their movie was called, the longer harder. We say longer, harder, faster.
Kayla Fratt 1:03:12
I love that. That’s the first South Park reference we’ve had on this show, I think, which is surprising.
Janice Baker 1:03:21
Oh, I love South Park. So yeah, so longer meaning duration, you go for a longer, harder, and meaning you do hills or an increased temperature, you know, you change the terrain or you change the temperature. And then faster I guess would just be the intensity it just a catchword for the intensity. Yeah. And you you only pick one of those things to change a day. And again, like I said, if if that day your dog appears to have shown more signs of thermal stress, then you keep repeating that you don’t change anything you keep repeating that until those signs of thermal stress go away. And or go back to sort of a baseline thermal stress. And then you go ahead and and you change it.
Kayla Fratt 1:04:05
Yeah, I know with with my dog Barley, when we were living in El Salvador, the biggest thing I noticed for him kind of day over day as we were acclimating because we would kind of go up into the mountains to cool off for a while and then come back down onto the beach to surf. And then you know, we would have back slid a little bit in our acclimation would nighttime panting that was the biggest thing that I noticed for him like if he was waking up in the middle of the night and like panting for a while before he could fall back asleep that was like a big sign for me that he was not not really used to being backed down.
Janice Baker 1:04:37
Yeah, that’s a good reference. I mean, because the night you know, with when it comes to thermal stress at night when there’s no solar radiation, wherever they are, whatever the temperature outside is it that’s what the temperature inside like a vehicle is going to be. Yeah, so when we’re talking about vehicle, so but we know And then as soon as the sun comes out that container or whatever, gets hotter, a lot hotter.
Janice Baker 1:05:04
So at night, we’re taking away any solar radiation. And if the dog is, is panting from that, that just means that the air around them is really hot. Or or they’re not used to it. Yeah. And then it’s, there’s a lot of discussion about our question. At night, if if your dog works in an open environment, or an outdoor environment at night, is it better to bring the dog into a nice air conditioned environment to sleep? Or is it better to acclimate them by keeping them in ambient air?
Janice Baker 1:05:38
We know in humans that, you know, they looked at it in service members and things that if you put them in air conditioning to sleep, they sleep better, and they’re more refreshed and rested. And all sorts of other parameters are better the next day. But we don’t know that with with dogs. We, we do know that if you keep them in that hot and humid, ambient environment, they acclimate faster, or they acclimate at all. We do know that when we haven’t sorted out yet, is, is it better? You know, and dogs don’t they’re not like us where they go down for eight hours, and they wake back up right, intermittently nap. But would it be beneficial to provide them with an hour or two of a day of just air conditioned? Yeah, like good. Rest? Exactly. And we don’t know, we don’t know that. That would be great.
Kayla Fratt 1:06:27
So we do know that like the intermittent cooling during exercise is really beneficial. Yeah, we don’t know necessarily about overnight or on rest days or anything like that. I mean, yeah, yeah, that’s I’m gonna be interested to hear if we ever figure that one out. Okay, so I’ve got a couple questions from Meghan. So Megan is kind of wondering how long after a heat event, I guess we could say, Should we not work? And is there any follow up that should be done after kind of a heat event? And I’m sure that depends a little bit on the intensity so we can give a yes scale? That is?
Janice Baker 1:07:05
That is a great question, though. Because we’ve had one of the myths that we’ve had for decades is that once a dog has a heat injury, like you calling it a heat event, which I like, because injury sounds like something is permanent, or bad or broken. And once a dog overheats, to any degree, we used to say that once that happens to them, something changes in their hypothalamus changes in their brain, and they’re never as tolerant to heat. Again, they’re broken. And the fact is, we’ve never even studied that in dogs. That was that was in the early 40s and 50s. The human medical world thought that because of some cases of humans that were heatstroke, well, then there’s some really good studies that showed that that wasn’t really the case, human if you even with humans, right?
Janice Baker 1:07:51
If you find the reason that a dog like when a dog has a heat event, I love that term. Look at all the risk factors did the temperature outside change was the humidity what changed for the dogs? The dog been off work for a long time? Was the dog working in a muzzle you know, as some dogs have to what? What of all the risk factors, find those risk factors and mitigate, you’ll be able to identify what changed in the dog because dogs don’t just spontaneously heatstroke for no reason. There’s a reason that suddenly they did this and fix that.
Janice Baker 1:08:28
And then once the dog gets over the initial if the dog has, it was dehydrated, now they’re hydrated if the dog had muscle damage, which can sometimes occur like Rhabdo, my allow my analysis, if the dog had kidney compromised your liver, once that’s fixed, the dog can go back to work. And and then we just say take it down a notch from where you were before. You know, if you’re used to running the dog for a mile or two miles, or for a certain amount of time, just take it down a notch. Take it easy and then okay, the dog handled that fine, a little bit more, a little bit more a little bit more.
Janice Baker 1:09:04
And there’s I know the military working dog Center, Dr. Andrew Henderson, their their sports medicine specialist. She’s been developing a rehab program for the dogs. But it’s generally what we described already. You start out slow, you take it down a notch from where they were and incrementally train them back up to where they where they were where you want them. And some dogs might tackle that in two weeks, some dogs might take six weeks. But once you fix any of the damage that was done from the heat event at all, if any was done like like organ problems or even something as simple as dehydration, then you can go back to work.
Kayla Fratt 1:09:47
Okay, that’s great to hear. Yeah, and I can imagine this is a little bit different, but because it’s humans and it’s cold, but I got frostbite a lot in high school, because I was a competitive cross country ski Hear, and you were very tiny spandex suits, and you ski very, very hard and you get very, very sweaty. And then if you can’t find your coach or your mom fast enough with your parka, you get a little bit of frost. And I know the mechanisms are entirely different, but it was like the environment and the sport that I was choosing to continually put myself in, was causing the problem as much if not more so than any like physiological components. So yeah, if you’re working your dog, and 104 degrees of the sun and a muzzle every year, you know, yeah, you might have repeated heat events with your dog. That’s not necessarily because the dog is permanently damaged from the first one.
Janice Baker 1:10:45
Right. If, if you’re we always say if your dog is fat, and overweight and out of shape, and you work and you try to work them at a certain degree, or, you know, certain, I don’t mean degree, I mean, level. Yeah. And they, and they can’t handle it, and they have a heat event or heat injury. And you don’t fix that they’re going to continue to have that. And one of the reasons that it was a self self fulfilling prophecy, when we’d say, Hey, your dog was a heatstroke.
Janice Baker 1:11:15
As a veterinarian, we say your dog was a heat stroke, you shouldn’t work very hard, you have to be really careful in the future. So now they’re afraid to work them very hard. Gotcha. deconditioning the dog Oh, no. And, and, you know, the army, the army, for example, when I came in the army said, you can’t work the dogs, if it’s over 95 degrees, and you know, over 90 degrees, you can work them at night, or inside. But if it’s 95 degrees or over, you can’t work them at all. Well, then we went that was 2000, then we went to war in the hottest place in the world are one of the hottest places in the world.
Janice Baker 1:11:50
And we had selectively deconditioned our dogs not to be able to tolerate anything over 95 degrees. Yeah. Yeah. So and then we’re telling them Oh, now your dogs eat stroke, you got to be really careful. And you shouldn’t work your dog in hot environments anymore, because he’s more likely to get heatstroke again. Which means that if he ever does have to work in a hot environment, he’s more at risk. Right?
Kayla Fratt 1:12:14
Yeah. So oh, gosh, oh, what a mess.
Janice Baker 1:12:17
We I think we we need to if our dog has a heat event, as you, as you call it. In the future, we shouldn’t we don’t need to fix the dog as much as we need to fix ourselves as being able to recognize, I mean, of course, we have to fix fix the problem that led to the dog being heatstroke. But going forward, it’s our it’s our responsibility. I mean, were the ones that were broken and didn’t recognize that the dog could couldn’t handle it. We have to concentrate on us being able to note whether the dogs handling it well, at that very moment. Is the dog how’s the dogs panting? Is it different? Like you said with your dog? Is he acting different today than he was yesterday? What is he been used to over the last two weeks? The acclimation period. So I think after he’d injury, we really need to focus on what, how we’re seeing our dog and how we’re responding to them.
Kayla Fratt 1:13:18
Yeah, yeah. Because fundamentally, if the dog has gotten to kind of that level where we are needing to go to the bat, we’re needing to, you know, we’re really seeing the scarier science, it’s because we missed earlier stuff. And we pushed, we pushed.
Janice Baker 1:13:34
Right, we used to say, often the first sign of heat injuries collapse. And that looking back, that’s not true. We just missed everything that was leading up to it.
Kayla Fratt 1:13:44
Yeah. My dogs have gotten too hot to work before a lot of times that I’ve never pushed it on to collapse.
Janice Baker 1:13:50
Right, right, exactly. I mean, I think we’d be startled. And you know, and I granted, the dog works off leash for any reason, like certain search and rescue dogs and things, and they’re out of our sight. We might not, we might not be able to stop them or rein them in, so to speak totally. And when we do know, dogs, some dogs with a high toy drive that will just chase the ball until they drop. But But meanwhile, in between there, we’re there to say, I mean, a lot of dogs were really smart. They’ll they’ll, they’ll do exactly what we described earlier. They’ll try to get out of the work. They’ll try to slow down, but some dogs started, but they’re not really.
Kayla Fratt 1:14:28
Yeah. And that’s kind of what we look for in this line of work. So we’re looking for dogs that are more likely to put themselves in danger.
Janice Baker 1:14:36
Exactly. That’s a good point. Yeah.
Kayla Fratt 1:14:38
Yeah. No, that makes perfect sense. So I think just to kind of reiterate, so we’re looking at kind of uncontrolled panting and reluctance to work maybe shade ski seeking. I know my dogs when they start getting hot will also kind of pause more often because they do search off leash and if I’m kind of noticing them pausing or shade seeking or anything like that, you know, offering them water spraying them down if you have the ability to bring ice and then if things get more serious beyond that, doing much more kind of serious active cooling stopping work. At what point I guess this is one thing we haven’t covered, at what point do you go to the vet like at what point is this, no longer just Okay, we’re gonna water I school him down and take the rest of the day off. But it’s like no way we gotta go to the bat.
Janice Baker 1:15:25
I’d say that if you don’t see a complete bounce back. If you call the dog down, and 15 minutes arrest, 20 minutes arrest the dog looks like he could do it again. That’s great. If the dog doesn’t if the dog looks smoked, and of course, at the end of the day, they’re going to be tired. But if you cool the dog down and their body temperature is normal, but there’s still anything abnormal about the dog. Sometimes it’s shaking because they get hypoglycemic, their blood sugar’s will drop when they have when they get to hyperthermic or heatstroke.
Janice Baker 1:15:58
Sometimes it’s just their their body temperature is normal. And they’re standing, but they’re still not in the game. Like, they really don’t want to go back and work. If after you’ve pulled them down to baseline under 103. And everything else is normal. There’s still anything abnormal about their behavior, or they’re still reluctant to work or anything, I take them to the vet. And the reason is, it might not be practical if you’re in Guatemala, or your or you’re out in the field somewhere. But the reason is that dogs can if they reach that threshold of too hot for their their individual body, and they stay too hot for too long.
Janice Baker 1:16:37
That sets off this cascade of, of the clotting disorder of blood clotting disorder, their clotting factors and platelets and other factors in their body and their blood that are responsible for keeping the blood in a balance of not clotting too much, but also not bleeding too much. Those get destroyed. And they they get disseminated intravascular coagulation and you can’t see that from the outside.
Janice Baker 1:17:05
But what we have happen is the dog has a serious hate event, you cool them down, they bounce back, they seem like they’re normal, they’re standing. But they’re not really completely normal. And then you we say go to bed on them. You put them in their kennel, you put them in the crate, you go on to other things. And 1012 hours later, you know, you wake up in the morning and the dog is comatose and has bloody diarrhea because that you’ve reached that threshold where that clotting disorder starts. There’s a simple that there’s a simple test blood tests that veterinarians can do to to check for that. And oh, my electricity is flickering, we’ve got a storm coming.
Janice Baker 1:17:48
But there’s there’s a simple test that veterinarians can do for that, if they have that test. Emergency veterinarians will always it’s called a PT APTT or a co AG. And that, that is that it’s also the same one we used to see for ventilation and snakes. So but not all general practitioners have that but an ER shop. And er should and if you have a good relationship with the human hospital, say you’re in some remote area. Sometimes they’ll run dog blood, just depending on what relationship you have. And they can run the test.
Kayla Fratt 1:18:24
And, when a dog has already has gotten to that point? What is prognosis? Like, you know, I assume that’s a lot of go get to the vet sort of situation. Yeah. And then what?
Janice Baker 1:18:36
In such, studies have shown of head injury of all, you know, mild, moderate and severe, that it’s about a 50% survival rate. The thing is that we don’t, in those studies, we don’t capture a lot of the dogs that that come in, get checked out and leave because of financial reasons or they look fine, or dogs on the milder spectrum might not go in at all dogs on the serious spectrum might die before they get there. So we don’t we don’t really know. But in general, it’s 50%.
Janice Baker 1:19:06
But that’s all inclusive from super serious dogs to not too serious. And most of the dogs that present to a vet to have that data captured are on the serious, really serious side. So the keys to treating heatstroke are, of course the in the field, cool them down as fast as you can. And then the things that happen to them that break them that they die from, they either die from, from the clotting disorder bleeding out in their lungs in their heart, which those clotting factors in the platelets can be replaced with a treat with a transfusion of plasma.
Janice Baker 1:19:43
So again, an ER doc not all general practitioners have that. So that’s if that’s what’s gonna kill them. You replace that and generally you can, you can head that off. Wow, a lot of general practitioners don’t know that or don’t understand the importance of that because they don’t have the test to test for it in the first place. But if you test that COAG test and it’s abnormal, those values are elevated, you give them the transfusion of the plasma, fresh frozen plasma that has platelets and clotting factors, and you stave that off.
Janice Baker 1:20:14
The other thing is their gut is very sensitive to heat the lining of their intestines and those will die and slough off. And that’s the bloody diarrhea. Okay. So then bacteria that live normally in the gut, don’t have a barrier to the bloodstream, and they can go back into the body and cause sepsis. Yeah, so antibiotic treatment. Yeah. And the other is neurologic damage, their brain swells. And there’s medicines that we can give to curb brain swelling. Again, that’s something that most of the time is that a emergency practitioner. Most general practitioners aren’t well equipped to treat heatstroke, they really can’t do much more than you can call them down. They can do IV fluids and antibiotics. But, but then that might be a serious problem when you’re in a remote area like you are.
Kayla Fratt 1:21:04
I mean, it’s something we take really seriously because we know we might kind of be our dog’s best bet. You know, like, where we were in Guatemala, when we were living in adultery. We were, like, a two hour boat ride down. Wow, down a river. And then, you know, two hours in a car. And then you were in the town of Putin, which had vets, but I don’t think they had any er vets, you know, our, our closest would have been Guatemala City, which like, maybe we could have gotten on a plane from pretend. But otherwise, we were probably 16, 18 hours from Guatemala City.
Janice Baker 1:21:39
Which there are so many emergencies with dogs that and people that just those are, you know, it’s like deployed situations you take your chance.
Kayla Fratt 1:21:50
We were really lucky to, we actually spoke to event I went to a veterinarian in Costa Rica to ask about getting IV fluids. And maybe we should have done this anyway, because they’re so useful for so many things. But it was for snakes. And she was like, well, I could just sell you antivenin. So I got three vials of antivenin to carry with us while we were there.
Janice Baker 1:22:12
And we have with some other federal law enforcement programs we’ve worked with, we got them to where, you know, I used to deploy with them because I would carry all this stuff. I carry blood products and carry that. And then we just, they just got trained and good enough to do it themselves. Yeah.
Kayla Fratt 1:22:27
Yeah. I mean, you’re sleeping with the IV, I was grateful to get the intervention and said because it’s it can be sub q and IVs are not something I’m super great at starting in dogs. I’ve done it like twice in classes.
Janice Baker 1:22:39
And there’s, there’s actually very few things that IVs, IV is what’s going to save the day.
Kayla Fratt 1:22:45
Right, it’s kind of a supportive, it’s like giving Tylenol just supportive. Like.
Janice Baker 1:22:51
Yeah, right. A lot of cases is sub q fluids or something else. We’re just letting the dog drink water. Yeah, we’ll get them hydrated. But yeah, fortunately, there’s not a lot of things that IV is the key to saving them, or at least the things that we encounter in the field.
Kayla Fratt 1:23:06
I mean, one of the things this is making me think is, so we’ve got several of the listeners who are commenting are Australian, I’m sure they deal with pretty heinous heat and a lot of places. You know, I’m wondering if it would be worth investing in some sort of electric cooler solar setup for your field vehicle so that you can just always have ice with you when you’re way out in the woods. You know, if you’ve if you’re going to have a field vehicle with you, but you’re still really far from the vet, that would be something I would be considering.
Janice Baker 1:23:34
Right? Yeah. And there are I mean, it’s pretty amazing. There’s there’s little coolers and things that people can you see some of these hunters and fishers, fishermen, women that have the kitchens in their, in their SUV or whatever, you know, there’s all these, they’re accessible to buy.
Kayla Fratt 1:23:51
So I live in a van and I have solar power for it. And then I have a Dometic cooler, which is it’s a company that’s mostly they kind of catered towards, like long haul truckers. But they weren’t great. It’s probably 20 liters. It doesn’t have a freezer, but it is cold. You know, I can get it down to I think like 34 Fahrenheit.
Janice Baker 1:24:15
So you could you could keep ice cold for most of the day.
Kayla Fratt 1:24:19
Maybe yes. But it’s you know, 34 degree water would still help quite a bit.
Janice Baker 1:24:24
Right, right. Absolutely. Absolutely.
Kayla Fratt 1:24:27
Okay, Janice, thank you so much. I learned so much. I had no idea that antibiotics might be needed in the case of a significant heat event as now we’re sticking with that term. Yeah, I have learned so much. Is there anything else that you wanted to make sure you got across or clarify that we we need to get to again?
Janice Baker 1:24:48
I think that the the main thing is that most of us learned a lot of things that are just turning out not to be true. And if you hear information that That seems completely different to what you’ve learned. Just explore it further don’t have a knee jerk response, you know, on social media, we have a sort of like a flyer that that we sent out several years ago. And it resurfaces every summer. So it’s probably 10 years old now.
Janice Baker 1:25:15
And anyway, it came up again yesterday, and somebody was like, This is wrong. keyboard warriors, and so, right keyboard warriors, somebody tagged me to come in and explain what was going on. But what was really cool as a couple of the people that are veterinarian, veterinarian board, a couple of them on there said, I’ve never even heard that meaning the old myth Oh, I heard that ice water was bad. And because they’ve been out of school for five or six years, and I said, it’s working. That’s incredible. Yeah, that’s huge. You know, five years from now, we won’t have to have these webinars, hopefully, because everybody will know. Right, you know, it’ll be the standard.
Janice Baker 1:25:53
And so yeah, I think that is that there is a lot of information that it’s just it’s getting outdated. Now we have before we just guessed, and we did the best we could, oh, boy, electricity. And, but we’ve got evidence now to refute that. So if you do hear information, I get it all the time. Well, I talked to my vet, and my vet says you’re wrong. Well, okay. Well, your vet hasn’t spent a career doing this. He didn’t do any research. Yeah. But, but just be open minded and understand like, wow, this is different to everything I’ve ever heard. But I’m going to look into it a little bit more. And then the cool first, then transport. That’s the big catchphrase that’s out there now. Get the dog, you’re the life saving measure in heat injury is cooling rapidly as fast as you can.
Kayla Fratt 1:26:51
Yeah, that Yeah, I think that’s a perfect note to end on. And so Janice, where can people find you online, if they’re interested in keeping up with you in the veterinary tactical group?
Janice Baker 1:27:03
Sure. We have a Facebook page, just Veterinary Tactical Group. We do have a website that’s not very active. I mean, it doesn’t change. It’s been the same for quite a long time. But that’s www.vettechgroup.com. And then we’re also on Instagram, where we’re most active on Instagram. And that’s just vetinarytacticalgroup as well.
Kayla Fratt 1:27:23
Excellent. Yeah, there’s a free heat stress webinar that’s got some really helpful visuals in it. So I highly recommend we’ve been using it in our K9Conservationists course now, as kind of a required learning for all of our all of our students, I really highly recommend it to everyone. So and for everyone at home. Thanks so much for listening. I hope you learned a lot and you’re feeling inspired to get outside and acclimate with you and your dogs. I think this will still be coming out in probably August. It’s going to be very hot. Hopefully, not hopefully, but for most of our northern listeners. So get outside acclimate with your dog be a canine conservationist in whatever way suits your passions and your skill set. You can find the show notes, AI generated transcripts, donate canine conservationists, all of our merch, and our Patreon and course all at K9Conservationists.org Until next time, bye!