Temperatures are on the rise so this edition of Hound Health is focused on recognizing signs of heat exhaustion and heatstroke so you can prevent, recognize the signs and respond accordingly should an episode occur.

What is Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke:

Unlike people, dogs don’t sweat out excess body heat. While dogs do have a few sweat glands located in their paws, these do very little to help regulate their body temperature. Instead, they do this through rapid, open-mouthed breathing, called panting. But sometimes panting isn’t enough to keep a dog from getting overheated.

Heat exhaustion in dogs can occur when the body temperature becomes elevated above the normal temperature. This varies slightly, but it’s generally agreed that temperatures of 103 degrees Fahrenheit and higher are above normal. If the temperature continues to rise and reaches 106 or higher, your pup is in the danger zone for heat stroke, during which the organs begin to shut down and his heart could stop altogether.

Heat-related canine conditions can become life-threatening without immediate treatment.

Symptoms of heat exhaustion & heatstroke:

  • Excessive panting, followed by disorientation and fast, noisy breathing
  • Racing heart
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Collapsing or convulsing (heat stroke)
  • Bright red or blue gums (heat stroke)
  • Vomiting and diarrhea (heat stroke)

Steps to take IF a dog is overheating:

  1. Bring the dog inside immediately.
  2. Take the dog’s temperature – See the below image, if the temperature is plus 104, follow these steps:
  • Spray/soak the dog’s pads with water.
  • Put a cold compress under the dog’s armpits.
  • Put ice in the dog’s mouth.
  • Have the dog sit in front of a fan to cool down.
  • Monitor the dog closely. If not improving, or showing signs of heatstroke, take to the veterinarian immediately.
  • Recheck temperature 5 minutes after cool down steps have been taken – if it has gone down, let the dog remain inside to rest. If the temperature has risen above 105, take to the vet immediately.

Veterinarians may apply alcohol to the ears, footpads, and groin to safely lower the temperature, as well as administer cool IV fluids. For serious overheating, a dog may need a breathing tube and artificial ventilation. Depending on the severity of symptoms, correcting electrolyte imbalances and controlling seizures may also be needed. If organ damage is suspected, hospitalization may be required.

Breeds that are more susceptible to overheating:

Although no pup is impervious to overheating, Boxers, Bulldogs, Boston Terriers, Pugs, Double Coated dogs (Husky’s, German Shepherd’s, Akitas), younger pups, and elderly dogs are at a higher risk.

We recommend to always air on the side of safety when It comes to a pup beginning to overheat. If your pup begins to excessively pant or drool, do not wait for more severe symptoms. Bring your pup indoors immediately, begin the cool-down process and quickly monitor their temperature. Please note, a dog can overheat even when it is not hot outside.