Recognizing Heat Exhaustion

Identifying and Preventing Heat Exhaustion in your Dog


As the summer months heat up, the possibility of your dog becoming effected by heat exhaustion or heat stroke is very real.  Heat stroke occurs when a dog’s built in cooling system cannot effectively cool him down.  Keep in mind that humans sweat, dogs do not.  Dogs release heat through their paws and through panting.  Therefore, dogs are not able to withstand prolonged exposure to heat like humans can.  They simply can’t tolerate it.


Heat stroke is deadly.  Do you know the signs?


If your presents any combination of the below symptoms, he may be in grave danger.


Excessive drooling

Excessive thirst



Excessive panting

Increased pulse

Increased heart rate

Glazed eyes



Bright red gums

Temperature at exceeding 104 degrees


Take action.


As soon as symptoms of heat stroke are apparent in your dog, call your veterinary clinic.  While you are trying to get them on the phone, do not under any circumstances submerge your dog in water.  Instead cool his paws off by dipping them in water.  Apply cool cloths to his paws and neck.  You can also spray him with the water hose.  All of these actions will reduce his body temperate in a prompt yet safe way. Give him some cool water or ice cubes if possible.  Your veterinary doctor will instruct you on what your next actions should be.  Mostly likely you will need to bring your dog in to the clinic to be assessed. If you are away from home, follow these instructions as best possible and find the nearest veterinary clinic.


Prevention is key. Follow these 9 tips to keep your dog cool this summer.


  1. Always allow your dog the opportunity to drink fresh, cool water.
  2. If your dog spends time outside for any period of time, give him a plastic water bowl to drink out of.  Metal bowls heat up too fast.
  3. Never leave your dog in the car on warm days.  The inner temperature of a car quickly reaches dangerous and deadly temperatures.
  4. Invest in a kiddie pool so your dog can cool off on his own while spending time outdoors.
  5. Walk your dog in the morning or evening hours.  Mid-day exposure to the sun can quickly become dangerous.
  6. When walking your dog on the pavement, use the 30 second rule. This means if you can’t place your hand on the pavement for 30 seconds without becoming uncomfortable then it’s too hot for your dog’s paws.
  7. Provide your dog with cool treats or ice cubes throughout the day.
  8. When you leave your dog at home, keep the air conditioning on and/or fans.  
  9. Outdoor dogs must have access to a shady, covered area in which to seek shelter from the sun.


Knowing the signs and symptoms of heat stroke could potentially save your dog’s life.  Heat stroke should always be taken seriously.  Know the signs and jump into action should you suspect your dog is suffering.