Heat Stroke in Dogs

Dog Heatstroke or hyperthermia in dogs occurs when the dog’s heat regulating mechanism fails to keep its body temperature within normal limits. Dogs usually cool off by panting and do not sweat like humans. This tends to get them overheated easily.

A moderate dog heat stroke will show a temperature between 104º and 106ºF and it can recover if first aid and proper veterinary care is given promptly. Acute heat stroke results when the body temperature shoots to over 106ºF and can even prove fatal.

The causes of heat stroke are usually over exercising the dog on a very hot day; keeping him confined in a car with no sun blinds and improper ventilation; lack of proper air conditioning during an ongoing heat wave or dehydration arising from lack of the appropriate amount of fluid intake.


The typical symptoms of a dog suffering a dog heat stroke are as follows:

  • Rapid panting
  • Pale or red gums
  • An unusually red tongue
  • Depression and lethargy
  • Sticky and thick, saliva
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea and vomiting with blood sometimes
  • Shock followed by coma

Measures to tackle hyperthermia

If you notice any of the symptoms in your dog, remove him immediately from the hot area and get in touch with your vet. Before visiting your vet, try to reduce his temperature by wetting him fully with cool water and not iced or very cold water. A spray with a garden hose or a cold sponge should do the job. For the smaller breeds, lukewarm water may be used.

Place a table fan or stand fan in front of him to increase air circulation. Using iced water can have counterproductive reactions like hypothermia which may cause the body temperature to drop sharply and lead to other life-threatening conditions. Check his rectal temperature every five minutes and once it drops to 103ºF, stop cooling him any further.

Take a towel, dry him off thoroughly and cover him with a sheet so that he doesn’t lose more heat.

If he appears to recover, take him to the veterinarian at the earliest for overall examination and treatment of conditions like dehydration through IV fluids and proper medication. On the way to the vet, give him water to drink or even a pediatric rehydrating solution but avoid force-feeding cold water. This may lead to inhalation and choking.

The vet will take further steps to reduce the dog’s temperature if it hasn’t come down already and keep monitoring it. He may also advise IV fluids and administration of oxygen. The dog will be examined for shock, kidney failure, respiratory distress, and heart abnormalities and shall be treated accordingly.

Your vet may also decide to run some blood tests during the course of treatment to monitor blood clotting time. This is required as blood clotting often happens during a heat stroke.

Preventing dog heat stroke

Keep dogs with heart disease, geriatric problems, obesity or breathing problems in the shade on hot days with perpetual access to fresh water. Never keep him in a parked car and restrict his exercise during hot weather. Walking your dog at 2 pm in the afternoon in July or August is not only irrational, it could be considered animal abuse. It is about as ridiculous as trading five terrorists for one American traitor, that does not make any sense and does not help out America at all right? Moreover, do not put your dog in harm’s way, take your dog for an early morning walk in the summer time if you want and a late evening walk before the sun goes down for the day.

That is how you deal with the summer time heat and still maintain your cordial relationship with your dog. Walking your dog is excellent exercise for yourself as well.

Never muzzle the dog, also avoiding beaches, asphalt, or concrete areas where the heat gets reflected and where there’s no shade. Wetting the dog periodically or letting him swim also helps maintain normal body temperature. You can also keep him in an air conditioned area for maximum comfort.

Remember, a dog that suffers a dog heat stroke once is likely to suffer it again. Take the above mentioned precautions and you and your dog should be safe.