Dog Heatstroke: Signs and What to Do

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Did you know dogs can suffer from heatstroke? Heatstroke is unfortunately a common problem for dogs, and it’s important to learn how to keep your dog safe from this life-threatening condition.

In the article below, you’ll find out more about the common signs of heatstroke in dogs as well as how to respond to these symptoms. If you have any concerns or uncertainty about your pet’s health, however, don’t wait—take her to the emergency vet as soon as you suspect heatstroke. The sooner you respond to the symptoms, the more likely your pet will be to recover.

dog heatstroke

Mild Signs of Dog Heatstroke

Below are mild signs that a dog could be suffering from heatstroke. It is best to watch your pet closely and help them cool down.

Excessive Panting

One of the first signs of a dog entering into mild stages of heatstroke is excessive panting. While it is perfectly normal for a dog to pant when she’s hot, and every time a dog pants this does not means she’s about to experience heatstroke, panting is still a good sign you need to help your dog cool down soon.

Take your dog indoors and let her rest near a fan or in the air conditioning. Give her cool water, but don’t force her to drink it. Consider giving her some ice cubes to chew on to help her cool down as well.

Excessive Drooling

Excessive drooling means that your dog is getting further into the first stage of heatstroke and may be moving toward the second stage. At this point, the symptoms are still mild, but it’s important to pay very close attention to your dog’s needs at this time.

Let your dog rest in the cool indoor climate with water and ice cubes. If she will let you, put some cool washcloths on her paws. This will help cool her down slowly and safely, and it may help her recover from the early stages of heatstroke before it gets worse.

Moderate Signs of Dogs with Heatstroke

It is best to visit the emergency vet if your dog is showing any of the moderate signs of heatstroke.

Elevated Heart Rate

The longer your dog suffers from heatstroke, the more likely she will be to experience an elevated heart rate. If your dog’s heart rate reaches higher than normal levels, it’s important to take her to the emergency vet, as this is a sign her body is not recovering on its own from heatstroke.

It’s a good idea to check your dog’s heart rate when she is well, so you have a number to measure against when you think your dog may be sick.

Lethargy and Weakness

If your dog continues dealing with heatstroke for a long time, she will become lethargic. She will be unable or unwilling to get up and move around, and she will show no interest in food—or in water, even though she needs to drink fluids.

Dogs may also become weak and unable to stand up on their own if they are in mid-stage heatstroke. If your dog is showing lethargy or weakness, take her to the emergency vet; she will need fluids and may need other treatment or monitoring as well.

Severe Signs that a Dog is Suffering from Heatstroke

Showing severe signs of heatstroke means that your dog must see an emergency vet immediately.

Seizure

Seizure is a much more serious sign that your dog’s heatstroke has reached potentially lethal levels. If your dog suffers from a seizure as a result of heatstroke, she needs to be seen by an emergency vet immediately if she has any chance of surviving this life-threatening condition.

Seizures can be caused by many other problems besides just heatstroke. However, if your dog’s seizure is associated with other symptoms on this list that lead you to believe heatstroke is the culprit—or if you know your dog is dealing with heatstroke—then these seizures are extremely dangerous and need to be treated as an emergency.

Unresponsiveness

If your dog falls unconscious and is unresponsive at all, this is a clear sign that her heatstroke is serious and that she may not recover from it. Unresponsiveness, with or without seizure symptoms, means your dog’s body is no longer able to function properly because of the damage done by the heat exposure.

Many dogs who reach this stage of heatstroke do not survive. However, there is always a chance your dog can still survive if you take her to the emergency vet right away for fluids, treatment, and veterinary help.

heatstroke dog with veterinarian

Keep Your Dog Safe from Heatstroke

With the help of this information, you should have a better idea of how to recognize signs of heatstroke in your dog. If you think your dog is exhibiting any of these symptoms, it’s very important to take her to the veterinarian or emergency vet as soon as you can for proper treatment.

Ideally, however, you should keep your dog from being at risk of heatstroke in the first place. Never leave a dog unattended in a vehicle, even on a day that doesn’t seem too hot to you. Always give your dog plenty of water, shade, and breaks if she is outside on a very hot day, too.

If you have questions or would like to talk with a veterinarian about dog heatstroke call OrlandoVets!

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