Skip to Main Content
Ask About Financing

Signs, Causes and Treatment of Heatstroke in Dogs

Signs, Causes and Treatment of Heatstroke in Dogs

Concerned that your dog might be experiencing heatstroke? Learn more about signs of heatstroke, causes, and treatment from our Capitola vets. Read on for some preventive tips to keep your pup feeling cool!

Heatstroke in dogs

During warmer weather or in generally hot climates, heatstroke (also called heat exhaustion) is a serious danger for dogs - one that could have fatal consequences if not addressed quickly. Hyperthermia (fever) can set in when a dog’s body temperature rises above a normal range (101.5°F).

Dogs are unable to sweat to cool themselves down as humans do, so if they overheat and are unable to regulate their temperature through panting, they may become overwhelmed by excessive heat. If their body temperature passes 104°F, your dog is in the 'danger zone'; once their body temperature is above 105°F this is considered heatstroke.

Ensuring our dogs are as cool and comfortable as possible in the summer months or warm climates is important to their health.

Causes of heatstroke in dogs

On hot days, the temperature inside a vehicle can quickly rise to dangerous levels. Even if it doesn't seem "that hot" out, remember that your dog is 'wearing' a fur coat at all times! If you're going shopping, consider leaving your dog at home in a temperature-controlled environment.

A fun day at the beach or a pleasant afternoon in the backyard should still ensure access to water and shade from direct sun. These are critically important on warm weather days, especially for dogs with medical conditions such as obesity or asthma, as well as senior dogs.

Your dog's breed may also be a contributing factor; short-nosed, flat-faced canines tend to be more susceptible to breathing problems. As you might imagine, thick coats become uncomfortable much quicker. Each dog (even ones who are eager to engage in activities and time outside) needs close supervision, especially on days when the temperature rises.

Signs of heatstroke in dogs

During the spring and summer, or on days that are warmer than usual, keep a close eye on your dog for symptoms of heatstroke, including:

  • Excessive panting
  • Increased drooling
  • Unable or unwilling to move, or uncoordinated movement
  • Mentally dull
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Reddened gums
  • Signs of discomfort
  • Collapsing or loss of consciousness

What should I do if my dog is suffering from heatstroke?

The good news is that heatstroke in dogs can usually be treated if spotted early. If you notice your pup displaying any symptoms listed above, immediately them to a cooler place with good air circulation. If symptoms do not improve quickly and you are not able to take your dog’s temperature, immediately seek emergency care

If you have a rectal thermometer, take your dog’s temperature if you have access to a rectal thermometer. If this temperature is above 105°F, hose or sponge your dog’s body with cool (not cold) water. Pay special attention to their stomach area. A fan may also be useful in reducing their temperature.

After a few minutes, retake their temperature until it gets down to 103°F, but do not go below this as it can also lead to problems. Take your dog to a veterinarian immediately whether you are able to reduce his temperature or not.

Preventing heatstroke in dogs

Make sure you're aware of how much time your canine companion spends outside during hot weather. Heat and humidity can be hard on dogs, especially those with short muzzles. Be very cautious about how much time your furry friend spends outside or in the sun during the summer. Do not expose your dog to heat and humidity - their bodies (especially those with short faces) are unable to handle it.

Never leave your dog in a car with closed windows - even if you park in the shade. Provide your pooch with lots of shade to retreat to and easy access to cool water. A well-ventilated dog crate or specially designed seat belt for dogs may also work well.

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.

If you're concerned that your dog may be experiencing heatstroke, get in touch for urgent care right away. Our staff will provide emergency veterinary care with your pet's wellbeing in mind.

New Patients Welcome

Santa Cruz Veterinary Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Capitola companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

Contact Us

Book Online (831) 222-5520