How to recognize Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke in Dogs

Heat stroke is a medical emergency for both humans and dogs.  While many of us are familiar with it in ourselves, many of us know very little about it in our canine pals.  And unfortunately, it can have very serious consequences for your dog. Heat Stroke is the common name for Hyperthermia.  It is when a dog’s  temperature rises above 103º Fahrenheit.   Because dogs only have a few sweat glands in the pads of their feet, and their primary way of cooling their body is panting, they can over heat faster than we realise.   In this blog, we explore ways to prevent heat stroke, the symptoms to look out for if it does occur, and ways to treat the condition if it is happening. As stated before, heat stroke is a medical emergency, if your dog is suffering from heatstroke, take him to a vet right away. 


Prevention of Heat Stroke

The easiest way to prevent heat exhaustion is to keep an eye on your dog and their activity. Keep your home cool, and do not leave your dog in a parked car. On hot summer days, be sure to moderate your dog’s activity levels and their playtime outside. Dogs should not be outside playing for too long or too vigorously. You should also avoid taking walks in the afternoon when the temperature is the highest.  Short playtimes, staying hydrated and appropriate activities and exercise can prevent heat exhaustion in dogs. Maintaining their body temperature within a normal range will ultimately prevent heat exhaustion and stroke.

Note:  even being under a hot hair dryer for a long time can cause hyperthermia.  And brachycephalic breeds (flat faced dogs like: french bulldogs, pugs, boxers, pekingese) are more susceptible to heat stroke because of the structure of their airways. 

Techniques we use at Citizen Canine to keep the pups cool are: no ball playing on hot days, lots of shade breaks, shortened walks, beach trips, lots of water breaks, splashing water on any place that doesn’t have fur (bellies, inside of back legs, feet, jowls and, if tolerated, inside of ‘drop’ ears).


Symptoms of Heat Stroke

Some of the early signs of are: excessive panting, excessive drooling, thick and sticky drool, bright red gums,  dry or sticky gums, skin is hot to the touch. As their exposure continues, you can see other signs:  pale or blue gums, stop panting and drooling, rapid heart rate, dilated pupils, muscle tremors, vomiting or diarrhea,  unwilling to move, collapse.   

At Citizen Canine, we are constantly looking in our dogs’ mouths…..what colour are their gums?  Are they drooling?  What does the drool look like?  How much are they panting?  We want to catch any pups struggling with the heat early.  Then we have the ability to treat them without the situation becoming dire.


How to recognize Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke in Dogs

Treatment of Heat Stroke 

If you think your dog is suffering from heat stroke, walk them or carry them to a cool shaded area right away. It’s essential to get them out of the heat. If your dog will drink, you can give them cool water.  You can use a cool, damp towel on their exposed skin, i.e.. belly. Lowering the body temperature needs to be done gradually–do not use cold or freezing water. If you’re indoors, you can set a fan to blow over them. You should call your vet immediately, and discuss an appropriate course of treatment for your dog. The prognosis for recovery depends on how high their temperature is, and how long it remains high.  Treatment is critical.  


Being familiar with the basics of Heat Stroke in Dogs is essential, especially in the summer when it’s more common. It can be serious and life-threatening if not recognized and treated as soon as possible. Be sure to play smart and play safe this summer and prevent heat stroke from occurring. At Citizen Canine, we believe in the old adage: “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” and it couldn’t be more relevant than with Heat Stroke.  We are trained and experienced and will always be sure your dog is happy, healthy and in good hands. Check out our dog walking services and find out what makes our walks stand out from the rest!


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