dog with heatstroke

It’s a good idea to know the signs of heatstroke and what you can do if you suspect your dog is a victim.

How do you know if your dog is suffering from heatstroke? Look for these clinical signs:

  • rapid panting
  • bright red tongue
  • weakness
  • vomiting
  • shock or coma

What to do if you suspect your dog has heatstroke

  1. Remove your dog from the hot area immediately and place him in the shade or an air conditioned area if it’s available.
  2. Try to lower his temperature by wetting him down with cool to lukewarm water (not cold). The water must penetrate the fur.
  3. If you know how, check your dog’s rectal temperature every few minutes until his body temperature reaches 102.2°F or 39°C. You’ll need a lubricant to do this.
  4. Offer small drinks of cool water to prevent dehydration, but don’t force water on him.
  5. Even if your dog appears to recover, take him to the veterinarian immediately as further internal complications and dehydration are concerns.

If your dog vomits, shows coordination issues, or seems lethargic, he should be seen by a veterinarian right away.

Who’s at particular risk?

Puppies and senior dogs, and those who are overweight, or suffer from heart disease or other medical conditions are in greater danger of heatstroke. As well, dogs with short upper respiratory tracts, including pugs and Pekinese dogs, cannot pant as effectively and may be more prone to heatstroke.

Without treatment, heatstroke can cause irreversible damage to the brain and other vital organs, resulting in death. So stay on top of your dog’s activities and play it cool this summer!


Animal Wellness is North America's top natural health and lifestyle magazine for dogs and cats, with a readership of over one million every year. AW features articles by some of the most renowned experts in the pet industry, with topics ranging from diet and health related issues, to articles on training, fitness and emotional well being.