Skip to Main Content
Ask About Financing

Heatstroke in Dogs: Signs, Symptoms & What to Do

When the temperature rises, your dog's health is jeopardized by heatstroke. In today's post, our Harrisburg emergency vets explain the symptoms of this potentially fatal condition, as well as what to do if you suspect your dog is suffering from heatstroke.

Heatstroke in Dogs 

Heatstroke is defined as an increase in core body temperature caused by external factors. Your dog's normal body temperature should be around 99-102.5 degrees Fahrenheit. If your puppy's body temperature rises above 105 degrees Fahrenheit, he or she must seek immediate veterinary attention. Heatstroke is a dangerous condition that can be fatal.

Why Dogs Are Susceptible to Heatstroke

When we become hot, we begin to sweat, which helps to cool our bodies. Dogs are unable to sweat; instead, they cool their bodies by panting. If panting is insufficient to keep them cool, their body temperature may rise further, resulting in heatstroke.

Any breed or size of dog can suffer from heatstroke but dogs with thick fur, short noses, or those suffering from underlying medical conditions tend to be more susceptible to this condition.

The most common causes of heatstroke in dogs include:

  • Leaving a dog in a car on a hot or sunny day
  • Forgetting to provide adequate water for your pet
  • Lack of sufficient shade in pet's outdoor play area

Heatstroke Symptoms in Dogs

Excessive panting is the most obvious sign of heatstroke in dogs. However, panting isn't the only sign of heatstroke in dogs. Other signs of heatstroke in dogs that pet owners should be aware of include:

  • Drooling
  • Reddened gums
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Mental dullness
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Uncoordinated movement
  • Collapse

How to Help a Dog With Heatstroke

Heatstroke is an extremely serious condition and symptoms should always be treated as an emergency! Heatstroke in dogs can lead to life-threatening issues such as abnormal blood clotting, swelling of the brain, kidney failure, and intestinal bleeding. 

If your dog is displaying signs of heatstroke head to your primary care veterinarian, or the nearest animal emergency hospital right away. While traveling to the vet's office, keep the windows open or the air conditioner on full to help cool your pet.

If you are unable to get to a vet's office right away, remove your dog from the hot environment and allow them to drink as much cool water as they want without forcing them to. You can also help your dog cool down by placing a towel soaked in cool (not cold) water over them.

Treatment For Heatstroke in Dogs

The veterinary team begins dog heatstroke treatment by safely lowering your dog's body temperature. Pour cool water over your dog's head, body, and feet, or apply cool wet cloths to those areas. Rubbing alcohol may be applied to your dog's footpads in some cases to dilate pores and increase perspiration. Heatstroke treatment for dogs may also include intravenous fluids, mild sedation, and low-concentration oxygen therapy.

As well as treating the immediate symptoms of heatstroke, your vet will also monitor your dog will for secondary complications such as changes in blood pressure, electrolytes abnormalities, kidney failure, development of neurologic symptoms, and abnormal clotting. 

How To Prevent Your Pooch From Developing Heatstroke

When it comes to the health and wellbeing of your four-legged friend, preventing heatstroke from ever happening is key. Prevent heatstroke in dogs by following the tips below:

  • Never leave a dog in a car alone. Even if you park in the shade and leave the windows open, the temperature in your car can quickly rise! According to studies, even on cooler days, the temperature inside a car can rise by up to 40 degrees in as little as one hour.
  • Learn more about your dog's level of heatstroke risk and take steps to be extra cautious with dogs that have an increased risk. Breeds with flat or 'squished' faces are more likely to suffer from heatstroke than dogs with longer noses. At-risk breeds include bulldogs, Boston terriers, Boxers, Cavalier King Charles spaniels, Shih Tzus, and mastiffs.
  • Dogs that are obese or those that have an underlying heart condition may be particularly susceptible to heatstroke.
  • If your dog spends a lot of time outside in the heat, make sure he has plenty of water and shade. A baby pool for a dog left outside may be beneficial, as they can cool off by jumping in! Cooling vests for dogs are also available for those who spend a lot of time outside in the heat.
  • Working dogs can become very focused on their job and forget to rest. Enforce rest breaks for your working dog to allow your pup's body to cool down (even if they don't want to).

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Is your dog displaying signs of heatstroke? Contact us right away or bring your pup straight over for urgent veterinary care.

New Patients Welcome

Colonial Park Animal Clinic is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

Contact Us

(717) 540-7140