Pet Care Resources Heatstroke in Dogs

Emergency Medicine, Urgent Care

Heatstroke in Dogs

As enjoyable as warm weather can be, higher temperatures can also be dangerous for our pets wearing permanent fur coats. Knowing the signs of heatstroke in dogs can help keep your pet healthy and out of the ER. 

How Do Dogs Cool Themselves?

Dogs have a fur coat and unlike humans, do not sweat through their skin (except for a small amount through their pads). That’s why they pant. Panting d and helps regulate their body temperature.  

How Can Heatstroke Develop in Dogs?

Heatstroke occurs when the body cannot keep its internal temperature within a safe range (dogs are normally 99-101 degrees). Causes may include: 

  • Being left in a car. If the outside temperature is 90 degrees, and the car windows are closed, the car’s temperature can rise to 109 degrees in under 10 minutes and to 119 degrees in just 15 minutes. Even with the windows cracked (not fully open), a car at 84 degrees can rise to 98 degrees in just 10 minutes.  
  • Exercising strenuously, especially in hot, humid weather 
  • Being a brachycephalic dog, such as a bulldog, pug, or Pekinese – these breeds often have respiratory issues, such as laryngeal collapse or tracheal collapse, that do not allow proper panting and breathing. 

Signs of Heatstroke in Dogs

The following signs may indicate overheating and impending heatstroke: 

  • Dizziness, weakness, collapse or inability to walk 
  • Dark red or pale gums 
  • Depression 
  • Diarrhea 
  • Vomiting  
  • Excessive panting 
  • Increased heart rate 
  • Increased salivation or thick, sticky saliva 
  • Death  

What to Do if You Suspect Your Dog Has Heatstroke

Heatstroke is a medical emergency. If you suspect your dog is showing signs of heatstroke, immediately take them to a cool, shady place. Begin gently cooling your dog with water by placing a wet, cool towel over them. Call your family veterinarian immediately and head to your vet or nearest MedVet.  


By MedVet |
May 5, 2023