"For the Love of your Dog"
Heat Exhaustion or Heat Stroke
  • Given the right circumstances, any dog can be a potential victim and be susceptible to heat exhaustion.

  • Dogs with respiratory problems, cardiovascular conditions, the very young puppy, and the canine senior citizen are at a higher risk.

  • Additionally, there are specific breeds that are more susceptible.
    That would include those that are short nosed (Brachycephalic) such as the Bulldogs, the Pugs, and the Chow Chows.
    These dogs can not pant very easily.

  • If your dog is experiencing heat exhaustion, he or she will usually exhibit some of the obvious symptoms of distress

Signs of a Heat Stroke

It depends upon the extent of the heat stroke and what stage of the stroke your dog is in:

Below are the signs:
  • Your dog is panting heavier than normal.

  • Your dog’s skin feels warm to the touch.

  • Your dog might appear to not be breathing deep enough.

  • It may seem like he or she is not getting enough oxygen to sustain them.

  • Sometimes it sounds or appears as though he or she is beginning to strangle.

  • Your dog will have less than normal saliva in their mouth.

  • The skin inside your dog's ears becomes flushed and red.

  • Your dog’s tongue could turn bluish in coloring and become somewhat swollen.

  • Your dog is starting to stagger as he or she walks.

  • Your dog seems weaker than usual and even dizzy or restless.

  • Your dog might develop a fever of more than 103 degrees.

  • Your dog might begin to experience diarrhea or start vomiting.

  • Your dog might become delirious.

  • Your dog may get muscle cramps.

In the early stages of a heat stroke, your dog will be rapidly panting, have thick, stringy like saliva, and his or her gums should be bright red. Your dog’s body temperature will be between 104 to 106 Fahrenheit.

Use a rectal thermometer and find your dog's exact temperature. If it is 104 or higher, then your pooch is most likely having a heat stroke, and you need to take immediate action. Heat Stroke can be Fatal within minutes! If your dog’s body temperature climbs above 106 degrees, your dog will go into shock and his or her organs can begin to shutdown. The longer your dog's temperature remains above 106 degrees, the more serious the situation is.

If your dog has paler pink colored gums, is dizzy and weak with vomiting and diarrhea, then the brain can become affected and they may have a seizure or fall into a coma.

If this happens, your dog requires immediate, life saving veterinary intervention!

Due to the manner in which dogs control their body temperature, they are actually more susceptible to heat exhaustion than humans are.

Dogs do have the ability to sweat through panting and they secrete some fluid through the pads on their feet, but they are not covered with pores all over their body that can perspire like humans, therefore they do not sweat like people do. Their main method of ridding themselves from heat is by panting. For this reason, it is important to take great care to protect your dog from a heat stroke.

Watch for Signs of Dehydration.

Sometimes an overheated dog will pant heavy and drool excessively. They may even become lethargic, and eyes can be bloodshot and they may appear a little pale. An overweight dog is at a higher risk for dehydration. When the skin along the back is gently lifted, it should immediately return to the normal position. In a dehydrated dog, the skin does not return to normal quickly. The speed of return to the normal position can help determine the severity of the dehydration. If your dog's skin does not return very quickly when you lift or pinch it up, your dog may already be dehydrated and need fluid. Your vet will be the best judge of this and will also determine if your dog needs intravenous fluids for rehydration.

What to Do!

If your dog is showing any of these above symptoms of heat exhaustion, an immediate call to your veterinarian is necessary. However, resuscitation efforts should be taken before you try to transport your dog. He or she might not survive the trip if you do not take immediate, necessary precautions to cool your dog down. Once your dog is showing signs that he or she is responding to your treatment, it is time to transport them.

Call to make sure that your dog’s veterinarian is expecting you. Once the veterinarian has assessed your dog’s condition, treatment will begin. Treatment can include any number of various options including an oxygen flow, an IV for hydration, or injections to reduce the throat’s inflammation.

While in transit to the vet, it is important to continue to apply some cool wet towels to the back of your dog’s neck to cool them down.

While you are at home, your best option is to place your dog into a tub of cool water so that the coolness can absorb through their hair and into their body. The idea is to get to the actual skin of your dog with the cool water and not just have the water running off of their coat of hair.

If you can not get your dog into a tub of water, then the next option is to run cold water over the back of your dog's head and place some cold packs wrapped in cold wet towels between the back legs, on the belly and even in the arm pits. Cold, wet towels can be used by themselves, if you do not have any cold packs available. You can even use a garden hose to run the water over the back of your dog’s head, across their belly, and inside their legs, if you are outside and there is one close. Your dog should exhibit signs of easier breathing shortly after this process. The idea here is to cool down your dog.

If you do not have water, then rubbing alcohol is another option and can also speed up the cooling down process. It can be applied to the belly and groin as it will help to cool as it evaporates.

Once your dog appears to be cooling down, take his or her temperature again. A safe temperature is 103 degrees. Seek veterinarian attention as soon as possible, even if your dog seems to be back to normal. It's always good to know all is well.

Ways of Keeping Cool this summer.

  • Make sure your dog always has fresh water in front of them 24/7.

  • If your dog is outside, make sure he or she has shelter from the sun. There are many ways to create a shady spot for your canine friend.

  • A nice swimming pool of cool water is very nice on these hot days. Those round, hard plastic ones sold all over during the warm months work great, are very affordable and can be stored easily for use the next year.

  • A lot of people will use a spray bottle and spray the paws, stomach, and back of their dog with cool water when it is very hot.

  • If your house is not air conditioned you can simply set up a fan in front of a pan of ice and let your dog lay in front of it to stay cool.

  • Most dogs enjoy a few ice cubes dropped into their water dish on hot days.

  • Many people set up a sprinkler that can spray their dog with a gentle mist of water.

  • Go for a Swim with your dog. A wonderful activity for you and your dog to do in the summertime and hot weather is swimming. Once your dog gets familiar and acclimated to the water, he or she will love and look forward to going for a swim with and without you! You can even hold on to your larger dogs and allow them to take you around the pool for a little more muscle building. Swimming, just as walking, really builds those interacting, loving, bonding experiences with your beloved canine friend.


Being left in a hot car is one of the major causes of a heat stroke. Common sense tells us to never leave your dog or children unattended in a parked car. All cars retain more heat than any open area, even if it is in the shade. There is no air circulation going on without the windows down or the A/C blowing. Plus, a dog may get overexcited in the car due to another dog or human passersby or have some type of panic from claustrophobia, making heat exhaustion and dehydration more likely.

People often take their pooch with them while running a few errands and leave their dog in the car while running in and out of places. It is very easy to misjudge how hot it will get in a car when the morning starts rather chilly and the day rapidly heats up. This can be more of a problem during the change of seasons. Unfortunately, the inside of a car only takes minutes to reach unbearable temperatures when the outside temperature is hot.

Many people will keep an extra key to their vehicle's door in your purse or pocket. You can then simply leave your car running with the A/C on and lock it up with your dog in it when you can not take your friend in with you. You then have a key in your pocket or purse to open the door when you return. You should still not be gone very long in case your dog accidentally turns off the engine.

If your dog has been in a hot vehicle for very long at all, you Must Remove your Dog from the Heat Environment. It is imperative to get your dog out of the car and away from the sun immediately. If you even suspect a heat stroke and your dog has collapsed, you must to get your dog to the vet immediately. Your dog’s internal organs may be shutting down. If this is the case, he or she will need specialized care to survive.

On longer road trips with your dog, make sure you have water for your dog and keep the A/C running. With the price of fuel today, experts on the subject say that with the newer air conditioning units, running your A/C is less expensive than the fuel used by the drag on the engine caused by having the windows rolled down while driving. So turn on the A/C!

Use common sense when traveling with your dog. Allow he or she to get plenty of fresh air and lots of cool water, especially on those warmer days.

Carry your veterinarian’s phone number in your wallet or programmed into your cell phone since many of the cases of heat exhaustion happen away from home.


Too much exercise on a hot summer day is another common reason that dogs get heat strokes, so please be careful! Vigorous exercise is always important for the health of your dog, but during these hot seasons, it is the time to back off on the intensity of your exercise program. Do your walks and exercise during the earlier morning times and later evening times, since these are the cooler parts of the day. This will make walking much more comfortable for you and your dog.

Always seek professional veterinary care following your first-aid attempts. All information on this web site is provided by No Free Lunch Dogs for general reference and informational purposes only. This information should not be construed to be formal professional advice or the formation of a consultant-client relationship. Your veterinarian is the best source for your dog's medical needs.

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