Panic in the woods

Everything has gone way too well after our male got his paw stitched. And because we haven’t been living true to my mantra to be prepared for the unexpected situations. Meaning, that we have been going out to the woods without our trusty first aid kit for the dogs.

Which would come hand yesterday, when we left for the 7 km walkies in the cooled down woods. The weather was excellent, slightly cloudy and the dogs were in extremely alert mood. Something I hadn’t seen for a couple of weeks due to the heatwave.

After about 10 minutes of walking I started to wonder why our bitch Zaida started to get foam in her mouth and drool a bit. Usually this is a sign of prey in the vincinity, and because both of the dogs had been very alert and smelling around the bushes, I quickly dismissed the thought being anything dangerous.

At about 15 minutes Zaida started to claw her mouth and that was the moment we got alert: we had seen this before last summer. So back we turned, her tongue slowly swelling up and causing extreme discomfort to her. The situation is such that the dog may even bite her tongue due to the pain, so my wife had to resort to the last measure to prevent this from happening. That is to keep your hand in the biting dogs mouth, thus preventing the dog from harming her tongue and making it easier for her to breathe.

For me this meant only one thing: sprint back to the car and quickly collect both the dog and the handler so we can get quickly to home.

Yes. Zaida was stung by a bee, again in her tongue.

At home we gave her medication, hydrocortison pills.

After an hour the tongue swelling was gone. After three hours the dog seemed to be alright.

And she was alright still when I left for work today, so we’re over that one with a sigh of relief.

But this only reminded us about one thing: you have to be prepared and keep the immediate medication with you all the time. The dogs are extremely keen on hunting all the things from bees and wasps to snakes and deer, so you can never know what may happen.

Thankfully the weather wasn’t any warmer: the hotter weather might have been more dangerous to the dog which couldn’t have breathed as effectively as needed.

So be prepared.



Oh my, oh my. We’ve been hit by the first real heatwave here in Finland. The daily temperatures go nicely above 25 deg C, meaning that the dogs are completely out of order during the day. Only at evening, or night to be precise, are we able to do any reasonable walkies with them. Like yesterday.

Hot weather can be dangerous to the dog, just as it can be dangerous to us people. What makes it more difficult for the dog -especially a dog with scruffy coat like Irish Wolfhound- to endure excessive heat is the fact that the dog has so limited ways to naturally cool herself down. The dog sweats only from her paws. The heat exchange is only through panting, aka mouth and tongue.

So how to cope with the excessive heat?

First of all, take care the dog has water, preferably cool water, available all the time. Not cold because that is considered to be one of the reasons to gastric torsion bloat. Which can be fatal – and very often is.

Naturally, spraying water on the dog is a good way to cool the dog down, but only as long as the water can dissipate from the coat naturally. I would prefer having a cooling mantle for the dog, or a blanket which you can tie on the dog. The blanket can be drenched with water and it cools the dog down by the same way as the water sprayed on her: dissipation of the water requires quite an amount of energy, thus cooling down. Wet blanket/mantle is the best external way to keep the dog cooled down.

But. There is always a but in these guidelines. Do not rub the the water into the coat and then put the wet mantle on top of that! This creates a steam bed inbetween the dogs sking (which is warm) and the exterior of the dog’s coat (which is insulated by the water which cannot dissipate due to the cooling wet blanket) and this can create even more heat on the dog! This applies also to the dog who has been swimming: do not put a wet towel/blanket/mantle on her!!!

The best way to cool down a dog -both in hot weather and after an exercise- is to dip her into the water as deep as her belly: the next-to-hairless area inside of the dogs legs have some massive veins, and thus the blood is fast cooled down to cool the rest of the body. After all, blood runs through the heart at the rate of a couple of times in a minute, even faster when exercisign, so the cooling is very effective through the “internal route”. This works also as a first aid in a situation where a dog has ‘over exercised’ and needs fast cooling down.

The cool water dip is also a good way to speed the recovery after a heavy exercise or competition.

Of course, the best way to keep the dog well in a hot summer day is to keep her in the cool shadows and not force her to work in excess of relieving herself.

Take care of your dogs and don’t leave them in the car or in direct sunlight!

Due update

We took a short walk in the woods yesterday with our prime runners, Ness and Zaida. Our intention was just to take them out to walk and maybe take one or two sprints up a slope on the trail we were going to. Ness’ toe, which was almost cut to half about 1.5 months ago, has healed well, even though we still try to protect the soft new skin from further tearing and damages.

So he had a protective boot on his foot, tied with some self-adhesive bandage so the boot wouldn’t fall off if he decided to sprint into the woods.

Your guess is as good as was mine when we arrived to the beginning of our trail. First of all, just before parking we saw a raccoon dog sprint into the bushes. Not a good sign, because this means that there will be scents which drive our dogs crazy and drooling. Nevertheless, a decision is a decision. Besides, that raccoon dog ran to the opposite direction than our trail was going, so off we went.

The beginning of the walk was just nice, brisk going: we got to walk ourself the speed we wanted to, which is quite normal in the beginning. The dogs were going from one side of the trail to another, finding scents and looking for something to chase. Whether a bird, raccoon dog or a deer, that usually doesn’t matter.

Like I’ve described, all went a bit too well, considering that Ness was without a leash: we thought that the boot would take care of the paw and weren’t even concerned over it. And we have noticed that the mere presence of the boot makes him move a bit more cautiously than normally. A lot, actually: it’s like a constant reminder that his foot is sore.

We were talking about the dogs, work, kids and such, when either of us made a notion that the dogs were drooling unnaturally lot. Their mouths were covered with foam, actually.

And just as that was said… off they went. Zaida came back on the third whistle. Ness, however, took of to an area from which the trees had been harvested a year or two ago: area filled with branches, twigs and broken earth, just the same as the area where he hurt his toe!

We could see him run, jump and sprint around the area, some 100-150 meters from us, taking no heed on our calls and commands. He was circling the area and trying to find something. When he came back after a few minutes (only!), we noticed that his boot was gone. As expected I might say.

We searched for it for a while, but the ground was so covered with rubble, it’s a bit mudd and broken and all in all it was impossible to say where this genleman had roamed, so we decided to call it as lost.

Back to home and that was it.

The positive: the paw is now in such a shape that it can withstand a normal walking and running. I doubt, however, it will endure a good sprint on gravel, though.

All the while I was tracking our walkie with Nokia Sportstracker service. Click here to see where, how and how long it took for us.

Be prepared…

Than boy scout motto seems to be the saviour for us from time to time: you see, we have always quite an arsenal of stuff with us both in competitions and on normal -longer- walkies. The competition set has everything from emergency first aid material to pliers and cutters in case the muzzle breaks. Hopefully we never have to use them, but you never know. The walkies first aid kit is just for the emergencies, and it’s a bit lighter version of the competition one: then again, in the competitions there is always a veterinarian available, so the need for anything more than the basic bandages is exaggeration.

As it happens, Lady Luck has her ways on evening things out. Our dogs were victorious during the weekend, so it was time to bring us down to the earth again. My wife took the three competing ones to a light and short walk to the woods to help the recovery from the competition. As if they really needed it, as they were so active and alive already… Never the less, even though the dogs don’t show that they are sore from the activity, they need to move to keep the muscles recovering and ‘pumping’ the excessive waste from the muscles. The lactic acid and it’s burned out residues don’t just dissipate from the muscle, but they have to be transferred to the blood stream from which they are filtered to urine.

So off to the woods they went. And from the woods they returned after some 10-15 minutes, during which time the following happened:

1. Fiona, the first time competitor, was constantly on the move, trying to find a prey to chase: something she had already done earlier, but this time she was completely out of control.
2. The older dogs, Ness and Zaida, also were extremely active, taking the cue of the youngster. So they roamed around the woods with way more speed and energy than was needed.
3. As it happens, Ness got a deep cut in his paw.

So, one cut and off to the vet, blood dripping from the foot.

Sole of one toe was cut cleanly for about 2/3 of the whole sole, to the depth of about half a centimeter. It took a sedation and seven stitches to repair the damage, after which the foot was bandaged so that it looks like the big feller has a boxing glove on his foot…

So, the next two weeks are very, very quiet for Ness, after which we have to start the fitness building almost from nothing. First the kennel cough, then the first foot cut (cut a blood vessel in the foot that time…) and now this. I’m beginning to wonder whether we’ve been too lucky so far and lady luck is really trying to even things out.

It takes time, and patience, but in the end, it pays to be prepared.

Have you checked your first aid kit? How about your dog’s kit?