By: Kathleen Riley-Daniels
These are tips I put together for showing dogs in hot weather, but
all of these ideas will work for dogs whether they are at a show or at
home. When in doubt about anything health related and your pet, always
consult your veterinarian.
Show Ring Tips – Hot Weather
A large part of showing dogs is adapting to the particular conditions
presented on any given show day. There so many variables out there that
we should be practicing with our dogs every day and at all times of the
day to get a handle on what might be encountered. Of all the
difficulties you can encounter, hot weather is probably the most
Whether you are at a dog show or not, being prepared to work with the
heat is critical. Start by knowing your dog, if your dog isn’t good in
the hot weather, put the dog’s welfare first and stay at home where you
can control the climate.
Some DOs and DON’T s
- Do keep your dog in a consistent temperature environment. Don’t
keep your dog in an air conditioned vehicle prior to being shown. The
contrast in temperatures from air conditioning to outdoor hot and humid
will wreak havoc on your pooch.
- Do use a generator or pay for electric and run fans
on the dogs instead. Dogs react more to temperature changes than people
do, and you know how hard that can be for you. Think about heading into
an air conditioned business out of the heat, feels great. Now recall
what it feels like heading out of that controlled environment back into
the heat and humidity. It’s like a giant slap all over your body.
- Do arrive early at an outdoor show and stake out
your territory in the shade. You can enhance the shade by putting up a
pop-up tent. Look at the area and try to set yourself up so you are
still shaded as the sun moves higher in the sky in the middle of the
day. (You can buy pop-up tents with three sides for under $200 at many
camping, large discount stores or on-line.) If you don’t have your own
tent, the show may provide one. If so, set up opposite of where the sun
will be highest and try to get near an edge to get any breeze that might
- Do go and watch your judge’s procedure. If the
judge isn’t taking dogs in catalog order, try to get to the front of the
line so you can be judged first and then can get back into the shade of
the tent or building while others are waiting to be judged. If the
judge insists on keeping all the dogs in the sun, you do have options.
You can put your dog in the shade or asked to be excused from the class
and write off the show.
- Do put yourself between the dog and the sun if at
all possible while in the show ring. Your shadow will provide some shade
for your dog.
- Do spend less time grooming and putzing around with your dog when it is hot.
- Don’t wrap a dog in an ice blanket, that only
constricts the blood vessels on the surface of the skin and prevents
heat from being carried out of the body.
- Don’t allow the dog to eat ice. The cold ice into
the hot dog may cause the dog to go into shock. The dog can lick the
ice, but you are better off putting the ice on the throat, the belly,
the pads of the feet and the rectum.
- Don’t give the dog water just prior to going into
the show ring. Your dog is better served by wiping the saliva out of the
dog’s mouth so the heat can move out of the body more efficiently.
If you want to cool your dog off quickly, you can use rubbing alcohol
on the belly and the pads of the feet. Alcohol evaporates quickly,
however nothing evaporates quickly in high humidity, and as the humidity
rises so does the risk of heat stroke.
If you are in the show ring and you feel your dog losing his balance,
open the mouth and look inside. If the gums are bright red and the eyes
are red around the pupils, get the dog out of the ring immediately. Do
not throw ice on the dog. If there is a veterinarian at the show call
them immediately. You can use cool (not cold) water to lower the dog’s
body temperature until someone can get an air conditioned vehicle to
take the dog to the closest veterinarian.
If you are in the show ring and your dog quits participating, let the
dog quit. Do not force the dog to show, it is not worth risking the dog
dying and at the very least you have ruined your dog for showing in the
If you are heading to the show ring and your dog throws up, do not go
into the show ring, go directly home where your dog will be in a
climate controlled environment.
Black dogs, and dogs with short noses like Pugs and Bulldogs are far
more susceptible to the heat than other breeds. Don’t keep these dogs in
the sun on warm or hot days.
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