The Dog Owners Guide To Heat Stroke In Dogs

Heat stroke in dogs is caused by a variety of situations and will often lead to a number of symptoms in your canine including (among others) a raised temperature and possibly excessive panting. Below is a complete guide to this problem, how to prevent it and some tips on treating it.

An Overview Of Heat Stroke In Dogs

As we know from very upsetting media reports heat stroke in dogs is often caused by a dog being left in a car or somewhere exposed to intense heat. Unfortunately a dog that has been left in a car during the summer will often not get a second chance and will often succumb to the affects of heat stroke.

It is worth mentioning that if the temperature outside during the summer reaches 85 Fahrenheit or 29 Centigrade then the inside of the car can reach a temperature of 102 Fahrenheit in just ten minutes and amazingly in just a matter of thirty minutes the temperature inside the car can reach a massive 120 Fahrenheit!

So to compare this to a dog’s normal body temperature which is approximately 101.4 Fahrenheit or around 35.5 Centigrade when a dog develops heat stroke their temperature can reach 107 Fahrenheit or above – however if your dog’s body does reach that temperature or anything above 105 Fahrenheit it is a critical emergency and will need urgent medical treatment and fast! If your dog’s body reaches this temperature then his organs might well become permanently damaged.

Dogs and puppies are not able to sweat like humans so they do not have a very effective biological method to cope with an extreme temperature rise. How many times have you seen a dog or puppy run around in hot weather or even just sit in the sun rather than seek somewhere in the shade – this is because dogs just don’t seem to put two and two together i.e they will not relate the increase in temperature to the excessive panting. Because dogs are unable to sweat (due to having limited sweat glands) to cool their body they will pant as this will cool the blood vessels in your dogs mouth which will then help to decrease the temperature in their head and surrounding area.

Preventing Heat Stroke In Your Dog

  • Never ever leave your dog in the car under any circumstances if the weather is unsuitable – it just is not worth the risk regardless whether you leave the windows open.
  • Don’t exercise your dog in hot weather or if you think the weather is not safe for your dog.
  • Try and encourage your dog to sit in the shade when it is hot and remember that a conservatory can be just as hot as a car and just as dangerous!
  • Some breeds are more prone to heat stroke especially brachycephalic breeds – these are breeds with a short nose including Pugs and Bulldogs.
  • Always make sure that your dog has access to fresh cold water.

Symptoms Of Heat Stroke In Dogs

  • Excessive panting – this is one of the most obvious outward signs to the condition but you also have a role to play – if your dog has been left somewhere hot then you will be able to use your own commonsense to establish why your dog is panting frantically.
  • Look out for pale gums in a dog that has a dangerous temperature.
  • Your dog might be experiencing intense anxiety.
  • Your dog might become extremely weak.
  • You may notice changes in your dogs behavior i.e. mentally your dog might be affected – including a loss to mental orientation.
  • Your pooch might start to lose his balance.
  • Heat stroke in dogs can cause excessive salivation which is another very common symptom of the condition.
  • Shock, collapse and death can occur in extreme cases.
  • An increase in the heart rate is another symptom of heat stroke in dogs.
  • Your pet might start vomiting or even show signs of diarrhea.
  • Confusion is another symptom of the condition.
  • Bleeding might even occur in some cases.
  • You might see your dog develop seizures and fall into a coma.
  • The breathing might become very noisy and even shallow, absent or even very slow breathing.

Treatment For Heat Stroke In Dogs

  • The first thing that you should do is remove your dog immediately from the source that is causing the increase in temperature – if this is the car or conservatory then obviously remove them instantly from the car – if it has been caused by your dog running around in hot weather or through you taking him for a walk in unsuitable weather stop the exercise and stop your dog from running around.
  • Call a vet immediately or take your dog to the vet whichever is the fastest option. Any treatment that you undertake should be advised by your vet but use commonsense and cool you dog’s temperature as fast as you can as the condition can be fatal and fast.
  • You need to cool your dog and fast so that his temperature is reduced. You can achieve this by spraying your dog with tepid water either from a hose or shower – you should also place your dog in a bath of tepid water. Spraying tepid water around the head and neck area will help to cool your dog.
  • Use a fan to cool your dog and reduce his temperature.
  • Get some water and allow your dog to drink as much as he can – but in small amounts – you could also place some salt in the water too.
  • It is worth mentioning that a dog can die in as little as twenty minutes after developing heat stroke.
  • Do not use cold water to treat the condition as this can reduce the skin circulation and therefore take even longer for your dog to cool down.
  • Dog’s with the condition may refuse water if they are that ill – the most important thing is to get your dog to the vet rather than taking ages trying to encourage your dog to drink water.
  • It is vital that your dog gets immediate medical treatment from the vet as this can save your dog’s life – a vet may choose to use a variety of medical interventions including cool water enemas, your dogs stomach might need to be rinsed out (this is referred to as cool water gastric lavage). The vet might also use corticosteroids and Intravenous fluid therapy which may involve medications being added including colloids as they help to keep the dog’s blood pressure stable. Sometimes a dog with an extreme case might also develop Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation and this needs extensive treatment.


1. Excessive Panting in Dogs: A complete guide to the causes of excessive panting in dogs.

Dog Health Problems Online > Heat Stroke in Dogs