• By Lou
  • August 4, 2015
  • Comments Off on Heat Stroke: Too hot to kayak with a dog?



Copyright Lou Racine, KayakingCTwithLou.com


Heat Stroke:



Lou Racine

Author of

Dog Paddling With Tiny: A Guide To Kayaking With A Dog


KAYAK EASTERN CONNECTICUT: 70 Eastern CT Paddling Destinations


DOG HEAT STROKELeaving dogs in hot cars has been a major concern expressed both online and in the media; so, I would expect that most readers will have some prior knowledge regarding the effects of heat stroke on dogs in every day situations. However, some readers might not associate heat stroke with kayaking with a dog. After all, it’s a water sport, not a hot car! Dogs are in the open and sometimes even wearing hats and doogles!

This article will give some important tips and first hand knowledge to those readers who might one day find themselves in an unexpected paddling situation where heat becomes a growing concern regarding their dog’s safety.

Last summer, I found myself in a situation where I wished Tiny were at home and not on the deck of my kayak. I was assured that there was ample shade at the paddling location and the forecast was hot but overcast for the entire day. The trip started out cloudy and breezy–and there was ample shade.

I offered Tiny fresh water from my cooler on a regular basis.  More times than not, I end up dumping it out; but, it was worth it for those times when he was thirsty.  I don’t wait for him to ask for a drink, because he doesn’t ask for water as often as he accepts it.

Midway into our trip, the breeze seemed to gradually disappear along with the shade, and almost an hour from the launch, the sun unexpectedly came out blazing. Tiny, and I, found ourselves in an area where there was no shade, it was hot, and the sun was blazing down upon us!  I turned back; but, in a relatively short amount of time, he started to pant.

Panting can be a sign of distress.  A dog that is occasionally panting needs assistance; a dog that won’t stop panting is in more urgent need of help.  I took off his life jacket and headed for a very small shaded area along the distant shore.

About half way to the shore, Tiny came up with a solution of his own; he went under the deck of my kayak.  I was initially afraid that he wouldn’t get enough air flow under there; but, then I realized that my feet did feel a lot cooler than the rest of me so I let him stay there.  I then took both ice packs from my cooler and put them under the deck with him, but away from him. I was surprised to see that just that little shade and the ice packs were enough to stop my dog from panting and he even seemed relaxed under there.

I laid towels and extra clothing on top of the deck to help insulate him from the heat of the sun and I hung my legs out over the sides as I paddled to shore. Having my legs over the side increased airflow to my dog. Of course, the large open cockpit on my kayak helped this effort as well.  Caution: This might not be the best thing to do with a kayak that has a smaller cockpit opening because it might not allow enough air flow!

In a situation like this, try to resist the temptation to put the dog into COLD water when it might be experiencing heat distress or heat stroke!  So much COLD enveloping the dog can restrict blood flow and exacerbate the situation instead of help. Instead wet towels or cloths and apply them like cold compresses; keep wetting and changing the cool compresses.  At the same time, try to create some kind of temporary shade for the dog, keeping in mind that air flow will help cool the dog. Also, do not try to force a dog to drink if it doesn’t want it.

Paddlers can also help themselves feel cooler in the heat by wetting their hat with cool water and putting the wet hat back on their head. I do this a lot.  In doing this you can also see how wetting a towel for your dog might help it feel cooler as well.

Tiny quickly bounced back after being in the shade on shore.  A dog, especially an older dog or one with a health condition, can escalate to something severe or life threatening rather quickly in some instances; so, it’s a good idea to react as soon as the dog shows any sign of heat distress.

It’s a good idea to talk with your vet about heat stroke if you kayak with your dog.  When you go in for your dog’s annual checkup, ask if they think your dog may be at risk. Older dogs like Tiny, or dogs with certain health issues, can be more likely to suffer in the heat. Certain breeds of dogs are also more susceptible to heat exhaustion and other heat related problems.

If you walk outside and you feel the heat slap you in the face, it’s probably a good day to do something else with the dog, leave it at home, or combine kayaking with another water activity that will help keep the dog cool. For example, some dogs like to jump from the kayak and retrieve items and some like to swim.  Both great ways to help keep the dog cool if done before the dog reaches an at risk heat situation!

Nobody is perfect! Don’t beat yourself up over situations that you may have underestimated or not anticipated.  We all make mistakes! Learn as much as you can so that you will be better prepared for these surprises and handle them as best as you can.

If you enjoyed this article, check out Lou’s Kayak With A Dog Guide Below!


 © copyright: © Lou Racine and KayakingCTwithLou, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Lou Racine and KayakingCTwithLou.com with appropriate and SPECIFIC direction to the original content.


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 Learn how to  KAYAK WITH YOUR DOG

with Lou’s book,



A Guide To Kayaking With A Dog



I found this book, very inspiring. Having a Jack Russell, he can be a little much to handle some time, This book gave great ideas in several areas…  

— Mel, Amazon Customer


I have been following Lou’s Facebook page for awhile enjoying her ingenuity, creativeness, determination, and inspirational qualities. Now all of her insight is gathered together in one easy reference guide. This book answers every question you could have about bringing your dog along…especially one that is not acclimated to water. Informative and fun…

— Celeste, Amazon Customer


Buy this book. It is a great technical guide to kayaking with your dog.

— Mary, Amazon Customer


This is an enjoyable & informative book. The author does a good job describing what you need to do so your dog will like kayaking as much as hers does.

— Sarah, Amazon Customer





Dog Paddling with Tiny




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Heat Stoke: Too Hot To Kayak With A Dog?
Leaving dogs in hot cars has been a major concern expressed both online and in the media. So, I would expect that most of you will know about heat stroke and how to prevent it in every day situations regarding your dog. However, some of you might not associate heat stroke with kayaking with a dog...

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