Beat The Heat – Heat Stroke And Your Dog

Some dogs don’t know how to keep their cool and with hot summer days, dog heat stroke can happen quickly. Because dogs do not sweat, the only way they can cool themselves is by panting. Their core temperature cools when the moisture on their tongue evaporates. When a dog gets too hot, they cannot pant quickly enough to bring their body temperature down and heat stroke usually occurs. If a dog’s core temperature climbs over 106 degrees, death or organ damage can occur if something isn’t done quickly to bring his temperature back down to normal.

Outward Hound Cool-it Bandana - LARGE
Outward Hound Cool-it Bandana – LARGE

If you plan on taking your dog for a walk, be sure to provide him with water; and, if possible, tie a bandana that has been soaked in cool water around his neck to help him beat the heat.
Excessive drooling with thick saliva hanging from the mouth, panting hard and fast, and listlessness or the inability to stand or walk are all signs of heat stroke. It is important if heat stroke is suspected that you cool your dog down as quickly as possible. Get him inside, out of the heat and if possible give him a cool bath. A trip to your veterinarian may be necessary if your dog does not seem to respond to these steps.

Since preventing dog heat stroke is your best option, it is important for your dog to have plenty of shade with good ventilation. It is also very important that your dog have a lot of cool water available.


Heat stroke can affect any dog, but the brachy-cephalic dogs with short faces, such as Boston, Pugs, and Bulldogs may be at higher risk due their inability to effectively pant and cool themselves. Older dogs sometimes have more trouble with temperature regulation as well as young puppies.

Many people believe that their pet will be fine outdoors. However, inadequate shade and/or water can affect even the most seasoned outdoor dog. Water left outside in the sun can heat up to hot for them to drink. Outdoor water fountains for dogs can help provide fresh cool water and dog houses can help with the shade.
If you like to take your dog for a walk, but the concrete is too hot, or he is a small dog and walks just plain tire him out, you may try one of the dog strollers.

Surprisingly, heat stroke in cats is very rare.   Most animal experts believe that cats are extremely good at finding the coolest spots to lay and also avoid the excessive, exertions that many dogs seem to thrive on.

If you find your dog panting excessively on a warm summer day, immediately move your dog into a cooler place. Getting the pet into a shady area with a fan running on him or just bring him indoors. Rinse your dog with cool, not cold, tap water over his legs and body to help effectively lower the body temperature. Rubbing alcohol placed on the skin of the stomach, will help cool him also. Do not use ice or extremely cold water.  Although it seems logical, extreme cold will cause surface blood vessels to contract, forming an insulating area that traps heat in the body, delaying the cooling of the vital organs. At the veterinary hospital, fluids are administered intravenously to help cool the core temperature and keep the kidneys from shutting down.

Attempting to force your pet to drink is also not recommended. If you suspect your dog is suffering from heat stroke, immediately load your pet carefully into a car and go to the veterinarian. Under no circumstances should you leave your pet alone in the vehicle.

Without these life saving steps, many dogs might lose their lives to the “dog-days” of summer. But, as Snickers will testify, quick thinking owners and veterinary professionals can help get them back on their feet in no time.

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