Heat Stroke in Dogs: Symptoms, Treatment and Prevention

It is dangerous to leave your dog locked in the car on a hot summer day. Even if the temperature outside is only 85°F, the temperature in your car could quickly rise to over 102°F. Leaving the windows cracked in your car is not just enough to ease air flow into the car for your pet.vDon’t risk your dog’s safety in the heat and do everything you can to prevent heatstroke from happening to your dog.

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Symptoms of Heat Stroke in Dogs

Many dog owners whose pets have been victims of heat stroke say that the condition struck without warning and, in a matter of just minutes, their dog was dead. In reality, dogs do reveal certain signs and symptoms when they are suffering from heat stroke. Dogs do not have sweat glands anywhere but their feet so they are unable to cool themselves down by sweating. Rather, dogs pant to cool themselves but, when the temperature of the air they are breathing is not much cooler than the dog’s body temperature, panting does very little to help.

Some of the most common symptoms of heat stroke in dogs include:

  • Excessive panting
  • Excessive salivation
  • Increased heart rate
  • Diarrhea
  • Pale or gray gums
  • Weakness or dizziness
  • Vomiting

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In most cases, your dog will start to pant heavily as heat stroke sets in. Within minutes, the tongue and mucous membranes in the mouth will turn bright red and the dog’s saliva will thicken, this often causes the dog to vomit. As the body temperature of the dog rises, his body becomes unsteady and yields to shock. In the final stages of heat stroke, the dog’s lips and gums may become gray, followed by seizure, collapse, coma and death.

Emergency Treatment for Heat Stroke in Dogs

If you have even the least suspicion that your dog is suffering from heat stroke, you must act fast. Your first step is to remove the dog from the source of heat – into an air-conditioned building, if you can, so the dog can breathe cool air. If possible, take your dog’s rectal temperature as soon as you begin treatment and continue to check it every ten minutes. If the dog’s temperature is below 104°F, moving him to a cool building may be enough to prevent the heat stroke from deteriorating. If the dog’s temperature is above 104°F, you need to speedily cool the dog by placing him in a tub of cool water and spraying him down.

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If you cannot immerse your dog in water, placing him in front of an electric fan and apply cold packs to the groin. You should also wipe the dog’s paws with cool water to help cool him down. Once your dog’s temperature drops below 103°F you can stop the cooling process and begin drying your dog off. If you continue to cool the dog too much, he could suffer from shock and/or hypothermia. After you get your dog’s condition under control it is essential that you take him to the vet for a check-up.

Tips for Prevention

Preventing heat stroke in dogs is essentially fairly easy if you take a few simple precautions:

  • Avoid keeping your dog outside for long periods of time without access to shade
  • Always give him plenty of fresh water.
  • Don’t force your dog to participate in vigorous exercise on hot days
  • Never leave your dog in the car – even for a short period of time.
  • If your dog appears to be getting too hot, wet him down or move him inside a cooler shade.


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