Heat Stroke in Dogs

Picture of Christian Sadler

Christian Sadler

Veterinary Surgeon and co-founder of Tatton Veterinary Practice


As the scorching summer heat rolls in, it’s crucial for pet owners to be aware of the potential dangers of heat stroke in dogs. Heat stroke is a serious condition that can be life-threatening if not promptly addressed. In this article, we’ll provide you with valuable information on how to recognise the signs of heat stroke in dogs and share essential tips to keep your furry friend safe and cool during hot weather.


Understanding Heat Stroke

Heat stroke occurs when a dog’s body temperature rises to dangerous levels, typically above 40°C. Dogs are more prone to heat stroke than humans due to their limited ability to regulate body temperature. Factors like exercise in high temperatures, inadequate access to shade and water, and confinement to hot environments can contribute to this condition.


Recognising the Signs

It’s essential to be familiar with the signs of heat stroke in dogs to intervene promptly. Some common indicators include excessive panting, drooling, rapid breathing, lethargy, vomiting, diarrhoea, dark or bright red gums, staggering, and collapse. If you notice any of these symptoms, it’s crucial to act quickly to prevent further complications.


Taking Immediate Action

If you suspect your dog is suffering from heat stroke, you should take immediate action. Move your pet to a cool and shaded area, provide them with fresh water, and wet their body with cool (not cold) water. It’s crucial not to use ice-cold water or ice packs as they can constrict blood vessels and hinder the cooling process. Keep your dog calm and try to limit any stimulation that may make them excitable or anxious. Do not wrap in damp towels as they act as a barrier for heat loss.


Seeking Veterinary Assistance

While initial first aid measures are essential, it’s crucial to seek veterinary assistance as soon as possible. Heat stroke can lead to severe complications such as organ failure, seizures, and even death. A veterinary surgeon will conduct a thorough examination, provide appropriate treatment, and monitor your dog’s recovery closely.


Preventing Heat Stroke

Prevention is the key to ensuring your dog’s well-being during hot weather. Always provide access to shade and fresh water, and avoid exercise during peak daylight hours. Never leave your dog unattended in a parked car, as temperatures can skyrocket within minutes. Consider using cooling products like vests or mats designed for dogs, and be attentive to the specific needs of older dogs, puppies, and brachycephalic breeds that are more susceptible to heat-related issues.



Heat stroke in dogs is a serious condition that requires immediate attention. By recognising the signs, taking prompt action, and implementing preventive measures, you can protect your beloved furry companion from the hazards of excessive heat. Remember, a little care and precaution can go a long way in ensuring a safe and enjoyable summer for both you and your four-legged friend. Stay cool and keep your dog cool too!

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