Heatstrokes in Dogs: How to Tell if Your Dog is Getting Too Hot

Although Holiday Barn makes it a practice to take our Campers indoors when it’s really hot outside, even “mild” summer temperatures can be hazardous to your dog. Our Pet Care Staff, particularly our Camp Staff, has been trained to be extremely vigilant at all times when supervising outdoor play.

How Dogs Keep Cool

Dogs are very susceptible to heat stroke. It can be deadly. Unlike us, dogs cannot cool themselves by sweating. Although a slight sweating occurs on the pads of their feet, panting is the only real way they have to cool themselves. Short-faced dogs, like Shih Tzu’s, Pugs, and Pekingese are at even more risk because they do not pant as efficiently as a dog with a longer muzzle. Dark colored dogs, overweight dogs, older dogs, dogs with a compromised immune system, puppies, and double-coated dogs are also more vulnerable to heat.

How to Tell if  Your Dog is Too Hot

If your dog is getting too hot, early on they will:

  • Begin to pant more and their breathing will become more rapid.
  • Begin to excessively drool.
  • Appear to be attempting to maintain their balance.

Also, look to see if their gums and tongue have turned bright red. Advanced signs of possible heat stroke include pale or white gums, lethargy, noisy or difficulty breathing, vomiting and/or diarrhea, and shock.

What to Do if Your Dog Shows Signs of Heat Exhaustion

If your dog starts to show the initial signs of heatstroke, your first objective is to try to cool him down. Hose him down with water, apply ice packs to his belly/groin area, and apply cool water or rubbing alcohol to the pads of his feet. Offer a small amount of water or maybe some ice chips. If you see advanced signs of a heatstroke, by all means, get him to the veterinary ASAP!

The best way to avoid a heat stroke is to take measures to prevent it from happening in the first place. Do not subject your dog to prolonged exposure to excessive heat, or strenuous exercise in hot, humid weather. Make sure he always has plenty of cool, fresh water and shade. Take walks in the early morning or in the evening when the sun’s heat is typically less intense. And, of course, do not ever leave him in a vehicle on a hot day.

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