top of page


(This website contains affiliate links. For our disclosures click HERE)

Heat Stroke and Your Dog.

I am writing this article to bring up an issue that I feel is so important at this time of the year.


You have probably heard that any dog is at risk for heat stroke when they are exposed in the hot temperatures of summer. Luckily, you can take steps to prevent heat stroke and keep your dog safe and healthy.

Heat stroke is a medical condition that is caused by an elevation in body temperature called hyperthermia. This body temperature increase tends to occur as a response to a trigger like inflammation in the body or a hot environment. This is pretty much the same for humans as well as animals. When a dog is exposed to high temperatures, heat stroke or heat exhaustion can result. Heat stroke is a very serious condition that requires immediate medical attention. Once the signs of heat stroke are detected, there is precious little time before serious damage or even death can occur.

Unlike humans, dogs do not sweat through their skin; they sweat small amounts through their foot pads and nose, but this is not enough to release excessive body heat. Dogs primarily release heat by panting, a method that exchanges hot and cool air. This clearly is not a very effective or efficient process, especially when the body temperature is very high.

If a dog cannot expel heat, the internal body temperature begins to rise. Damage to the body's cellular system and organs may become irreversible once the dog's temperature reaches 106°F. Unfortunately, too many dogs succumb to heat stroke when it could have been avoided.

It is paramount to be able to recognize the signs of heat stroke so you have a chance to prevent it from happening to your dog.


Major signs of Heat Stroke in Dogs

  1. Increased rectal temperature (over 104° requires action, over 106° is a dire emergency)

  2. Vigorous panting

  3. Dizziness or disorientation

  4. Dark red gums

  5. Tacky or dry mucous membranes (specifically the gums)

  6. Thick saliva

  7. Lying down and unwilling (or unable) to get up

  8. Collapse and/or loss of consciousness

What you should do if you suspect heat stroke.

First of all, keep in mind the one thing that can make the process of helping out your dog, is to have a calm and obedient dog, that brings the need of proper dog training, so the dog will behave the way you want at these critical moments.  

If you have even the slightest suspicion that your dog is suffering from heat stroke, you must take action. First contact your vet for advice about the steps you need to take, or if possible head straight to the nearest open veterinary hospital while attempting cooling methods. If you have assistance by another person, keep on cooling the dog while another calls the vet for help. Here are some steps to carefully lower your dog's body temperature.

  • First, move your dog out of the heat and into a cool, shady area that is well-ventilated.

  • Offer your dog cool water, NOT COLD WATER, but do not force water into your dog's mouth. Try not to let your dog drink excessive amounts at a time.

  • Begin cooling your dog's body temperature using cool water. You may place wet rags or washcloths on the foot pads, around the head, on the abdomen, and in the armpits.

  • Replace the cool towels frequently as they warm up. Avoid fully covering the body with wet towels as it may trap in heat. You can use a fan to help provide cool air.

  • DO NOT use ice or ice water. The reason is that extreme cold can cause blood vessels to constrict, preventing the body's core from cooling and actually causing the internal temperature to rise further. Over-cooling can also cause hypothermia (low body temperature) leading to a host of new problems. When the body temperature reaches 103.9°F, stop cooling.

  • At this point, your dog's body should continue cooling on its own.

  • Keep in mind that even if your dog seems better, there may be Internal damage not obvious to the naked eye, so an examination by your vet is necessary. Even further testing may be recommended to assess damage.

In order to avoid all this hardship for you and your dog, which can lead to a tragedy, it is obviously best to do whatever it takes to avoid exposing your friend to such a life-threatening condition. So let’s all keep a few pointers in mind, starting with the most obvious of all.

  1. NEVER EVER leave your dog alone in the car on a warm day, (let alone on a hot summer day), even if the windows are wide open. The inside of the car acts like an oven in the sun and heat. The temperature inside can rise to dangerously high levels in a matter of minutes, even if the weather outside is not extremely hot.

  2. Avoid long or strenuous play or exercise on warm days. When outside, try to find shady areas.

 3.  Keep fresh cool water available at all times.

 4.  Always carry a thermometer with you. It is a small item that can be of great help to you         or a nearby pet owner.

Keep in mind that certain types of dogs are more sensitive to heat, especially obese dogs and short-nosed breeds, like Pugs and Bulldogs. Use extreme caution when these dogs are exposed to heat.

( Always consult with your Vet before treating any medical conditions of your dog )


At FitBark, dog health and human health go hand in paw. Why? Because it’s so much more fun to get active when we do it with, and for, our dogs!

dog food secrets.jpg
Dog food secrets, is an awesome book
explaining in plain terms not only what is good for your dog to eat but also what foods you should avoid in order to have a healthy dog. I tried a couple of the recipes and my little black lab loves them.
natuaral wonder pets.jpg
Furhaven pet products.png

Furhaven Pet Products was founded in 2004, with the mission to bring snuggly-soft comfort to pets of all shapes and sizes at a price that families can afford. Headquartered in Washington state, and nestled between Mount Baker and the vibrant city of Seattle. We’re always innovating and asking our pups and kitties for their opinions on our products. With over 1,000 different styles, sizes, fabric combinations and colors, you are sure to find a pet bed fit for your personality and decor (no fashion faux paws!).

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • YouTube
  • Pinterest
  • Tumblr Social Icon
  • Instagram
bottom of page