It’s essential to your pup’s safety to recognize signs of heat exhaustion in dogs, how to take immediate action, and understand what prevention tactics to use to prevent overheating.
We love taking our pups outside – hikes, runs, playing fetch, anything that gets their energy out. However, as a responsible dog owner, we need to be extremely self-aware of the environment and the weather. Dogs can overheat easier than you may think and heat exhaustion in dogs should be avoided at all costs.
Heatstroke occurs when your dog’s temperature goes over 104°F (assuming this is not accounting for any other possible illnesses), but anything over 103°F is considered dangerous. Your dog will typically display symptoms of heat exhaustion before symptoms of heatstroke. The goal is to prevent these symptoms from even happening and if they do, making sure you provide prompt treatment.
It’s important to prevent heat stroke and heat exhaustion in dogs as it is extremely serious and can be fatal. Here are signs that your dog may be overheating and what actions you need to immediately take. We also discuss how to help prevent heat exhaustion in dogs to help mitigate overheating risks.
Signs Of Heat Exhaustion In Dogs
- Heavy panting and trouble breathing
- Excessive drool (or saliva that looks different than it typically does)
- Fever (check if your dog’s nose is dry and hot, that could be a telling sign)
- Different colored gums and/or tongue than normal
- Visible signs of dehydration (dry nose, sunken eyes, heavy panting)
- Irregular and fast heartbeat
- Dog collapsing onto the ground
- Not responding to your cues
- Muscle tremors
- Feeling very warm
- Not being able to stand up
What To Do If Your Dog Is Overheated
If your dog is displaying signs of heat exhaustion, there are a few immediate steps you can take to try and cool them down. You have to act fast because time is not on your side in these situations. The goal is to cool your dog gently as opposed to immediately.
- Call your veterinarian and let them know what is going on. They can provide the best instruction and next steps. They may suggest taking your dog to the closest ER if they feel your dog’s life is in danger. The vet hospital may need to provide cooling, oxygen, and fluids to your dog. They can also administer medicine to make any of your dog’s symptoms (such as vomiting) stop.
- Get your dog to a shaded area (preferably air conditioning) as quickly as possible.
- Put cool water (not cold water because rapid cooling can be dangerous) on your dog’s body. If you are near a bath or body of water, you can try to submerge them in that.
- Offer your dog cool (not cold!) water.
- Place a cool towel across your dog’s body.
- Position them near a fan if possible
- Keep track of what you do and the timing of your cooling efforts as that can be important information for your veterinarian.
- Pre-cool your car if possible before taking them to the veterinarian.
Preventing Heat Exhaustion In Dogs
Your goal should be to prevent overheated symptoms in your dog from even occurring. Here are a few tips to help prevent your dog from being in a dangerous overheated situation.
- Keep your dog inside during really hot days.
- Ensure your dog always has access to drinking water.
- Limit your pup’s activity on hot surfaces. Place your hand on the pavement – if it’s hot for you, it’s hot for them.
- Do not overexercise your dog, especially on hot days. Give them their exercise during cooler parts of the day, like the morning or after the sunsets.
- Provide your dog with cool treats (ice cubes, pupcicles, frozen fruit, etc.)
- Never leave your dog in a warm car.
- Ensure your pup always has shade if outside.
- Keep your dog in well-ventilated areas with fans and air conditioners.
- There are a variety of cooling products now available on the market for your dog.
- Keep your dog groomed so extra layers on furry pups don’t contribute to their body heat.
As dog moms and dog dads, we want to protect our pups from danger as much as we can. Check out more health and fitness related dog posts in the Health section of the Basic Dog Mom Blog.