What Are the Signs of Heat Stroke in Dogs?

Signs of heat exhaustion in dogs Every summer, veterinarians see a spike in heat-related illnesses in dogs because pet owners do not know the signs of heat stroke in dogs. Sadly, hundreds of dogs die every year as a result of overheating. According to PETA, “In 2019 alone, fifty-three animals endured heat–related deaths and another 126 were rescued from the heat—and those are just the ones that were reported. Most almost certainly aren’t.” On average, a dog’s temperature is 101.5° F. When a dog’s temperature goes above 103° F, it is considered abnormal. A dog’s temperature of 105° F suggests heat stroke. The AKC Canine Health Foundation explains, “Hyperthermia (fever) is an elevation in body temperature above normal range for the species affected. Heat Stroke (heat exhaustion) is a form of hyperthermia that occurs when heat-dissipating mechanisms of the body cannot accommodate excessive heat.” Once a dog passes heat exhaustion and moves into heat stroke, the situation is dire. When dogs experience heat stroke, it can cause strokes, damage to their internal organs, and death. Since we are based in Dallas, Texas where the heat is a real concern, we want all of our clients to know the signs of heat stroke in dogs so they can protect their four-legged family members.

Causes of Dog Heat Stroke

The AKC Canine Health Foundation lists the following as causes of heat stroke in dogs:
  • Confinement in a car or another space without ventilation
  • Elevated environmental temperatures
  • Obesity
  • Dehydration or lack of water
  • Exercise
  • Underlying health issues
Additionally, there are some types of dogs which are more prone to heat stroke, such as:
  • Long-haired breeds (Huskies, German Shepherds, etc.)
  • Brachycephalic (short-nosed) breeds (Pugs, Bulldogs, etc.)
  • Puppies
  • Senior dogs
Humans sweat to cool themselves off, but our pets don’t sweat. Instead, dogs cool off by panting. If it is too hot and their natural cooling mechanism fails, it causes heat stroke. Signs of heat stroke in dogs

Symptoms of Heat Stroke in Dogs

Generally, the symptoms of heat stroke in dogs are similar to what humans experience; however, dogs will pant excessively to try to cool off. PetMD lists the following symptoms of heat stroke in dogs:
  • Panting
  • Dehydration
  • Excessive drooling
  • Increased body temperature – above 103° F (39° C)
  • Reddened gums and moist tissues of the body
  • Production of only small amounts of urine or no urine
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Irregular heart beats
  • Stoppage of the heart and breathing
  • Sudden breathing distress
  • Vomiting blood
  • Blood in the stool
  • Changes in mental status
  • Seizures
  • Muscle tremors
  • Wobbly, uncoordinated or drunken gait or movement
  • Unconsciousness

What to Do If You Think Your Dog is Suffering from Heat Stroke

If you notice your dog panting excessively or exhibiting any of the above signs, then your first goal is to try to lower your dog’s body temperature. Start by moving your dog to a cooler location, such as indoors in air-conditioning. You can also try cooling your dog off with water. This can be done by either spraying your dog down, immersing your dog in water, or wrapping wet towels on his or her foot pads, groin area, and neck. However, you should avoid using ice or cold water. Rover explains, “This causes the blood vessels in the skin to constrict, trapping heat in the body’s core, where it’s causing the most damage.” Using a rectal thermometer, check your dog’s temperature. Your goal is to bring the temperature down to 103° F. If you are unable to bring your pup’s temperature down or your dog is exhibiting other symptoms of heat stroke, it is critical to head to the emergency veterinarian.
Dog heat stroke recovery

Ways to Prevent Dog Overheating

A good rule of thumb is if you feel hot, then your dog feels hot. Therefore, avoid making your dogs do things that could cause you to suffer from a heat-related illness. For example, plan your walks around the times when it cooler, such as mornings and evenings. When outdoors, make sure your dog has access to fresh water and shade. Sadly, the most common cause of heat stroke deaths for dogs occurs from being left in vehicles. Never leave a dog in a vehicle – even with the windows opened. According to Bark Post, “On an 85 degree day, the temperature inside a car can rise to approximately 119 degrees in 30 minutes.” Additionally, take note of the risk factors for heat stroke in dogs. If your dog is elderly, has underlying health conditions, or is a breed at risk, then pay careful to your friend on hot days.

Dog Heat Stroke Recovery and Treatment

Your veterinarian will monitor your dog for shock, dehydration, kidney failure, and any other potential health issues resulting from heat stroke. Emergency treatment for your dog may include intravenous fluids, a cooling enema, oxygen, and medications. Super Scoopers cares about your pup’s safety, which is why we want our clients to know the signs of heat stroke in dogs. With an average high of 96° F in August in Dallas, Texas, your dogs may be at risk if left in the heat for too long.  Let your dog do his business in the yard and then beat the heat indoors, then let us come scoop the poop so you don’t have to!