Too Hot to Handle: Heatstroke in Dogs

July is just around the corner, which means that you’ll be cooling off any and every way you know how! The heat is uncomfortable, but by sweating, you can cool down and regulate your body temperature to a much more comfortable number. But you’ll notice that your dog doesn’t sweat. They may pant and find some shade, but there is not much they can do to cool down on their own. Because of the heat and their lack of sweating, dogs experience heatstroke very commonly during this time of year. Cloud Peak is here to walk you through the fundamentals of heatstroke in dogs and the best ways to improve their quality of life. If you’re looking at this blog for immediate help, please contact us right away and we will help you immediately!

The Basics

What is heatstroke? 

Heatstroke is a type of hyperthermia that causes the body’s organs to swell rapidly. When the body’s internal temperature is rising too rapidly for your body to effectively lower the fever, then that’s when you can suffer heat stroke. The normal human body temperature is 98.6℉, and once it goes above 104℉, then heat-related injuries or illnesses occur. Dogs are a little different number-wise, but the concept is still the same. Average canine internal temperature is around 102℉, and when it rises above 105℉, then you should be concerned. Again, if your pup is having this increase in temperature, please get help right away. 

What are the signs of heatstroke? 

Although there are parallel symptoms in humans and dogs, the way a dog behaves when suffering heat exhaustion (a less severe type of hyperthermia) indicates important health marks that you should be aware of. Because dogs do not sweat at the same level a human would, one of the main ways you can visually determine your sweet pup’s temperature is by taking notice of their panting and breathing. When dogs start to suffer from any form of hyperthermia, they begin to excessively pant. Like we mentioned earlier, dogs do not sweat the same way we do; the main sweat glands on a dog are its paw pads. The rest of their body does not produce sweat through its pores; instead, those pores are used to secrete pheromones so dogs can identify one another. Bottom line: they need some external cooling to prevent hyperthermia. 

In addition to excessive panting, there are a few more visible symptoms like:

  • Uncharacteristic drooling 
  • Rapid heart rate 
  • Dry nose 
  • Red gums 
  • Unresponsive/ slower movements
  • Disorientation/ confusion

If the hyperthermia evolves without proper treatment, these are the more severe symptoms to be on the look-out for:

  • Vomiting 
  • Bloody stool
  • Bloody vomit 
  • Seizures 
  • Muscle tremors 
  • Unbalanced movement 
  • Comas 

Without treatment, these symptoms could lead to death. These are the most common signs of heatstroke, but if you want more information about other possible symptoms, check out this link.


One of the most basic rules when it comes to preventable illnesses is simple: monitor your animal. If your dog starts showing any of the signs mentioned above, continue to monitor how your pet behaves. If the condition gets worse, you will be more aware of what you can do while you seek medical attention for your pup. To prevent heat illness from progressing, here are a few heatstroke guidelines to keep your doggy safe from the heat: 

  • No breed, haircoat length, or anything is exempt from getting a heat-related illness. On that same note, be aware if your dog is more prone to suffering from heat than other breeds. Typically, long-haired and short-nose breeds have the hardest time cooling down, so you may have to provide your pug more cooling options than your lab. 
  • Be aware of how the heat affects you, and multiply it; that’s how your dog feels. When it’s too hot or too humid for you to be outside, it will be too much for your dog too. 
  • Always have a bowl of clean water outside for them to cool off with. Make sure that the water doesn’t get too dirty or warm while outside. If it’s hot enough, you could throw a couple of ice cubes in their dish to cool down the rest of the water dish. 
  • Have a shady spot your furry companion will love. When your dog gets too hot and just needs to pant and drool, they will most likely want to be in a cool spot away from the sun so they can properly get their temperature down. 
  • Don’t overwork your pet in the hot sun. Consistent training is crucial to having a healthy and safe pup at home, but there is a limit to how much you should push them. On a hot day, maybe work on how they react when the sprinkler turns on, or not tackling your kids when they get excited. As long as you’re aware of your pets demeanor, you’ll be good to work with them! 
  • Add extra water to their meals. If you’re not sure if your doggy is getting enough water in a day, add some warm water to their kibble, wet food, etc. Not only will it help your pet throughout the day, but it will also help with digestion. 
  • Dip the paws in water. Dog’s sweat glands are on their paw pads, so when you dip their paws in water, it helps them cool off, like if you jumped in a pool on a hot day. If you do have a pool, and you allow your animal to go swimming, make sure they don’t swallow too much chlorinated water! 

If you’re taking your dog on a little grocery run, or camping, or going through your fields, remember that they can also suffer from heat stroke while being in a vehicle. If there isn’t adequate ventilation or air conditioning, then your dog could very well get heat stroke while you aren’t looking. A good rule of thumb is to know that if the temperature is above 70 degrees Fahrenheit, do not leave your animal (or kids) in the car without leaving the vehicle running. Again, animals can suffer heat stroke if they are just left in the car in the heat. 

Remember, all this boils down to monitoring how your dog is doing. If it’s nothing out of the ordinary, it’s nothing to worry about.

Temporary Treatment

Remember that this is all very temporary; no matter what you do to help, you should immediately go to the nearest animal hospital to seek medical attention. In order to alleviate or minimize the symptoms your dog is having, you need to lower their body temperature. Remember that a dog’s normal body temperature should be about 101.5℉, so it will be your goal to get their temperature as close to that number as soon as possible. When measuring your pup’s temperature, have a rectal thermometer because they are the best tool for you to monitor that number. To lower the temperature, use cool – not cold – water and sponge/ hose your dog’s entire body. Continue to monitor their temperature, and take them immediately to your veterinary clinic. Calling the vet in advance is beneficial, as they may give you other specific options on how to manage your dog’s heat stroke. 

If you have any other questions or concerns, please feel free to contact us! Let us know how we can help you!



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