Treating and Preventing Heat Exhaustion

dogfanUnlike you and I, dogs cannot sweat a lot to cool off. They can only get rid of heat primarily through their tongues and airway. So dogs are in frequent danger of overheating, especially when the weather becomes humid and evaporation off the tongue is slowed down. Heat stroke can permanently damage a dog’s thermoregulatory system, predisposing them to further heat problems- all the more reason to recognize overheating and stop it before it progresses to heat stroke.


Dogs can react to heat in different ways. Brachycephalic breeds (flat-nosed dogs like pugs, bulldogs, and boxers), older, obese, and pregnant dogs are more prone to heat stroke. Young active dogs, especially large breeds and dogs with thick coats are prone to exertional hyperthermia – overheating from exercise. Always pay attention to your dog and you dog’s mood, because even a healthy dog can have an off day.


Offer water at the signs of panting, and avoid exercise if your dog isn’t drinking enough. Encourage you dog to “pre-drink” in anticipation of a long walk. Avoid letting your dog drink from puddles as they can pick up diseases transmitted from other animals, so always carry clean water for yourself and your dog.

Time Your Walks:

On hot days exercise your dog only before sunrise or after sunset.

Watch What You Wear:

If you’re wearing a t-shirt or tank top, remember your pal probably needs a rest.

Rest Early:

Stop at the earliest signs or overheating -panting or slowing down- and wait until your dog cools off.

Seek Shade:

Dogs seek shade instinctively when it’s hot. The sun alone is enough to overheat a dog, especially one with a thick, dark coat or a health condition. Rest and walk in the shade as much as possible, and never tie a dog in the sun or leave it in the yard without shade.

Get Wet:

Wet down your dog’s coat, take them for a swim, or spray them with the garden hose.

Beware Of The Car!!!

NEVER leave your dog in a car in the sun. Even in cool weather, the temperature in a car can climb above 48C (120F) in 20 minutes.

Don’t put your dog right into the car after exercising. Cool off both the car and your dog first. Turn on the air conditioning or open the car windows to keep the temperature moderate while you drive.

Signs Of Overheating

Overheating, or hyperthermia, happens when there is a build up of body heat and your dog’s body temperature climbs above the normal maximum of 39.3C (102.5F). Hyperthermia begins as heat stress and progresses to heat exhaustion and then, if untreated, to heat stroke, which can be fatal. Here are signs, from mild to severe.

– Heavy panting, tongue extended

– Slowing pace

– Shade-seeking

– Intense thirst

– Red gums (Due to increased blood flow to the mouth)

– Rapid heart rate, bounding pulse, followed by weak pulse due to dehydration

– Rapid, laboured breathing, heaving chest

– Anxiety and confusion

– Staggering and falling

– Fainting

– Vomiting and diarrhea

– Seizures

– Coma


– Move to a cool shaded area.

– Encourage drinking.

– Gently hose with cool water or, better, submerge in cool water, keeping water away from the dog’s airway if it’s anxious and panting.

– Check temperature every 15 minutes, and keep cooling down to 39.3c (102.5F) being careful not to go any lower.

– Transport to a veterinarian while keeping the dog cool with ice packs and water.

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