Dog Heatstroke: What It Is & How To Prevent It

Heatstroke is a form of hyperthermia where the dog’s body temperature rises above the normal 101/102 degrees to about 106 or higher. Dogs can’t sweat or cool themselves the way we can. They only have sweat glands on their paws and the tip of their nose. If not treated immediately, a dog can suffer organ damage or die.

Some dogs are at a higher risk of heatstroke such as older dogs, young dogs who exert themselves too much during hot weather, obese dogs, dogs with thick fur, dogs with health issues such as lung or heart problems, and dogs with squished faces (brachycephalic).

Symptoms of Heatstroke in Dogs

Your dog may exhibit some of the following signs when s/he’s overheated:

  1. excessive panting
  2. very thick saliva
  3. hyperventilation
  4. glassy eyes
  5. staggering
  6. vomiting
  7. diarrhea
  8. dark red gums and tongue
  9. displays of anxiety


If your dog starts showing any of these signs move to a cooler shady place immediately. If you suspect that your dog may have heatstroke, call your vet and get to an animal hospital as quickly as you can. Once your dog is out of the sunny, humid weather work to lower the body temperature by blowing cool air on your pet, applying wet towels to the head, stomach, and feet, and keeping his/her movement minimized.

Tips to Avoid Heatstroke in Dogs

There are ways to prevent heatstroke which can avoid emergency trips to the vet:

  1. Never leave your pet in a parked car with the windows cracked during summer. The temperature in a car can rise within minutes and become unbearable.
  2. Limit the amount of outside activity during the hottest times of the day.
  3. Brush and groom your dog during the summer to remove dead fur. If your pet gets a haircut, do not expose the skin.
  4. On hot days toss a few ice cubes in the water bowl.
  5. Take walks or jogs in the evenings or early mornings before the pavement gets too hot and the air is cooler.
  6. Consider signing your dog up to attend a dog daycare so s/he can still play but be in a well-ventilated place instead of the dog park.
  7. When crating your dog and leaving the house, make sure the room is well-ventilated and the crate has good air flow. If it is very hot, consider leaving a fan or air conditioner on.

What do you do for your pet when it’s especially hot?

photo by rharrison

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