How to recognize and treat heat stroke in dogs


How to recognize and treat heat stroke in dogs

When it gets hot, as humans we sweat through our skin to regulate our body temperature. Dogs cannot do that and so they have to rely on panting and releasing heat through their paw pads and noses. That means that, when teamed with the fact they are wearing the equivalent to a thick winter coat all-year-round, they are particularly prone to suffering from heatstroke.

Heatstroke in dogs can be fatal, so you need to be able to act fast if you do think that your dog is suffering from the heat.

Symptoms of heatstroke in dogs:

Early on dogs will show signs of heatstroke if they are:

  • Panting and breathing rapidly
    • If their heart rate has increased drastically

Other symptoms of heat stroke in dogs can include:

  • Vomiting
    • Diarrhoea
    •    Sticky gums
    •    Excessive saliva
    •    Appearing disorientated or depressed

Common situations that lead to dogs overheating:

  • Being left in the car in hot weather
    • Suffering from a disease that impairs breathing
    •    Being exercised during the hottest parts of the day
    •    Being a short-nosed breed
    •    Being muzzled while under a dryer (this has been known to happen in the groomers).

Tips for preventing heatstroke in dogs:

When the temperatures start to increase, it’s important that you do your best to prevent your dog from suffering from heatstroke. When it comes to heatstroke in dogs, prevention is better than cure. Especially as, in far too many cases, heatstroke is noticed just moments too late.

Thankfully, there are some simple things that you can do to prevent your dog from suffering from heatstroke:

  • Ensure that your dog has access to water all the time. When you’re out on walks carry water and a foldable bowl with you.
    • Be careful with the times that you walk your dog and try to stick to walking in the early morning and late evenings when it is cooler.
    •    Never leave your dog alone in the car. Temperatures can rise to unbearable levels in just a matter of minutes and few dogs recover from being left in cars. Even if you don’t think the temperature is too hot, it’s not worth the risk.

What to do if you suspect your dog has heatstroke:

If you think that your dog is suffering from heatstroke, then it’s crucial that you act quickly.

  • It’s important that you begin the cooling effort immediately and continue to keep your dog cool on the way to the vets.
    • Cover your dog in cool (but not ice cold) water. Using a fan can also help to increase cooling by evaporation.
    •    Give your dog small amounts of water.
    •    Ring your vets to pre-warn them that you are coming in and then don’t delay in heading straight there.


NOTE: it’s particularly important that you keep a close eye on older dogs, those that are overweight and dogs with short noses such as pugs, bull breeds and boxers as they are more prone to suffering from heatstroke.


written by Shannon C

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