Heat Exhaustion Symptoms in Dogs

Heat exhaustion symptoms in dogs are a sign that your dog's body temperature has risen dangerously. You should always pay attention to heat exhaustion symptoms as soon as they appear, and provide immediate first aid to help cool your dog down. Seek veterinary attention even if your dog seems fine. Heat exhaustion is a serious condition that can easily prove life threatening.

Dogs Get Heat Stroke Easily

Dogs are very vulnerable to heat stroke. Dogs don't sweat, and rely mostly on panting to keep their bodies cool. Dogs can't cool their bodies as efficiently as they would need to to be able to withstand hot summer days and other high temperature situations.

Symptoms of Heat Stroke in Dogs

Symptoms of heat stroke will appear in your dog any time his body temperature rises beyond normal limits. If your dog develops any of the following symptoms, take steps to cool him down immediately:

  • Bright red gums and tongue
  • Rapid breathing
  • Thickening of saliva
  • Weakness
  • Collapse
  • Disorientation
  • Dizziness
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Shock 
  • Coma

If you don't cool your dog down right away, he could die. Heat stroke is a very dangerous condition.

How to Cool Your Dog Down

If your dog suffers from heat exhaustion, get him out of the heat right away. If possible, take him into an air conditioned place. If you can't get him into the air conditioning, take him into the shade. 

Lower your dog's temperature by bathing him in cool water. Don't use cold or icy water, as this could send your dog into shock. Wrap wet towels around your dog's head, torso and feet. Place him in front of a fan to help cool him further.

Seek veterinary care even if your dog revives and seems fine. Your dog may have internal damage that you can't see. However, mild to moderate heat stroke usually cause no lasting problems. If your dog suffers from heat exhaustion once, he's more likely to suffer from it again, so take extra precautions in the future.

Preventing Heat Exhaustion in Dogs

You can prevent heat exhaustion in your dog by allowing him to stay cool at all times. Never leave your dog in a car on a hot day, even with the windows open. Even on cooler days, your car can warm up a lot very quickly, so leave your windows open and park your car in the shade.

If possible, keep your dog inside during the hottest part of the day. If you can't keep your dog in during the hottest part of the day, make sure he has shade from a tree or shelter to get in out of the heat. Make sure your dog has plenty of fresh water at all times; give him two or three bowls so that he'll still have some if he tips one over.

Avoid vigorous exercise during the hottest hours of the day. Walk and exercise your dog early in the morning or in the evening, when it's coolest. If your dog is brachycephalic or has a long fur coat, you should know that he's more vulnerable to heat stroke.