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

Summer Pet Tips

It’s going to be summer soon which means more time outside, windows open, and soaking up the sun with our family. For many of us, family includes our pets. Summer activities with our pets is healthy for everyone, but there are some saftey measures we should take so that no one gets hurt or ill.

Here are 5 tips for summer fun with your best buddy:

1: H2O – Dogs and cats don’t have as many sweat glands as we do. They cannot cool off like we can. Dogs pant and cats can too. The water lost by panting needs to be replaced. Keep fresh cool water available for your pet at all times. When you go to the dog park, don’t forget to take a bottle of cold water for your pup. He’ll be thirsty after all that running around. After long walks, offer some water and then a potty break about a half hour afterwards.  During long car rides, take a break and let your dog quench his thirst. Your dog may become overheated before you do.

2: Never leave your pet in the car – On sunny, warm days never leave your dog in the car. Ever. The air in a parked car doesn’t circulate and the temperature can rise within minutes to a point where it can become life threatening. Even if the windows are cracked open and you park in the shade, cars heat up like ovens and can be unbearable. It would be best to leave your buddy home if you’re going to places where he can’t come.

3: Block the sun – It may be surprising to learn that pets with light-colored skin and hair can get sunburned. Extensive time in the sun can even result in skin cancer. If you’re going out for a long walk, play in the park, or a hike talk to your vet about using pet safe sunscreen that can be applied to the sensitive and unprotected areas like ears and their nose.

4: Don’t forget some shade- If your pet will be outside in the yard or out and about with you, don’t forget to find some shade for him to rest. Having an outdoor bbq and party? If your pet is going to be out there with you, the sunshine can overheat him, burn his skin, or just become extremely uncomfortable. Just as we sometimes need to sit under an umbrella or awning, our pets do too. Have a comfortable, sheltered area where he can retreat for a little bit. If you don’t have something like that, then bringing him inside for a break or nap will also help avoid sunburns.

5: Keep the pests away – Summer is high time for parasites. Don’t forget to apply flea and tick medication to protect your pet. Heartworm medication is also needed during the warm weather months. Talk to your vet about what brands, dosage, and frequency is best for your pet. Don’t ever use bug repellants made for people and be very cautious about ones you can buy in a store as some may have ingredients that are too strong or harmful for your pet. Your vet will have the most knowledge about preventatives for your pet.

Summer can be tough on pets but also a lot of fun. As long as we are careful and mindful of our pets’ limitations then everyone can have an awesome summer. Remember, early morning and late evening walks can be great for you too, keeps you from getting sunburned too!

Summer Pet Tips

With the weather warming up, our pets and ourselves will spend more time outside. We need to be diligent in protecting our pets from the heat and sun. Like us, they are prone to heatstroke, sunburn, dehydration, and skin cancers but with a few tips our pets can enjoy summer too!

1: Some dogs and cats can get sunburned on their ears, nose, and back if they are light colored or hairless. Limit their exposure to sunshine and keep them inside on very hot, sunny days. Your vet may also recommend a type of pet approved sunscreen for your pet that you can use when taking your dog outside for a walk, short romp around the park, or whenever your pet goes outside.

2: Never leave your pet in the car while you run inside a store. Even with the windows open, a car can heat up to a temperature that can be fatal to your pet. Cracking the windows is not enough. Cars heat up so quickly and lose all that nice cool A/C in a matter of minutes.

3: Make sure your pet always has fresh water to drink and also a nice cool spot to rest. Limit your pet’s activity on very hot days so they don’t overheat or get heat stroke. Play a little less, run less, and cool off! Chances are your dog or cat may want to lay around a bit more on a summer day as it is, let them.

4: Watch out for hot pavement and hot sand. On sunny days, the ground heats up and can burn the pads of your pet’s feet. If possible, avoid walking your dog on these surfaces for long periods of time. Keep your cat inside on hot days so he doesn’t get hot feet or sunburned. If you live somewhere where grassy areas aren’t nearby, you can talk to your vet about a few products on the market that can protect your dog’s feet. There are boots that are usually used for winter walks to protect from rock salt and ice and there are coatings that can be applied to the paws that create a breathable layer over your pet’s paws to protect them from the hot pavements.

5: Long haired breeds may need a summer cut or a shave. Never shave a pet down to the skin as they need some fur to protect them from the sun, but a shave that leaves about an inch or more can help them stay cool, keep from getting tangles, and make grooming easier.

6: Always carry water when going out so your pet can take a drink while out and about. You don’t want your dog to overheat or become dehydrated. Trips to the dog park should be done in the evenings or early mornings when it’s still a few degrees cooler than it was mid day.