The Heartbreak of Heatstroke

sunclipart21Pets can experience heat exhaustion and heatstroke due to exposure to high temperatures on hot summer days or excessive/strenuous exercise on moderate heat days.

Unlike humans, dogs do not have an efficient body-cooling system; they rely on panting. As a dog pants, saliva evaporates from the tongue as the air passes, the blood circulating through the tongue is efficiently cooled and circulated back to the rest of the body. Young dogs and old dogs have poorer temperature regulating abilities than dogs in their prime and in the peak of physical condition. home-dog_flat-for-slicing-150x150Black dogs in the sun are at a greater risk of over heating, as are long-haired dogs whether in the sun or not. Dogs with shortened muzzles (Pugs, Boston Terriers, Bulldogs, etc.) are also at an enormous disadvantage because of upper respiratory obstruction due to their anatomy, making the brachycephalic dog an inefficient panter.


Signs may include excessive panting and increased salivation, a high fever, fast heart rate, unresponsiveness, anxiety, weakness, the inability to move and eventual collapse. Heatstroke can be fatal. If you suspect your pet may be experiencing heatstroke, take him to your veterinarian immediately! In the meantime, you can use a portable fan and wet towels to cool him down. Ice baths are not recommended to aid in cooling your pet, as this method can actually cause your pet’s core temperature to rise.


Fresh water should be available at all times since water intake will increase during the summer. It is a good idea to have multiple water sources in case one of their containers is knocked over. Take plenty of water when you’re out on the trail, even if it’s a quick trip. Shade is also critical to help your pets stay cool. Pets always need to be provided with shelter to protect them from the heat.
Protect your pet from summer heatstroke by never leaving him outdoors for prolonged periods of time on very hot days and remember, the car is NEVER safe in the summer. Within 5 minutes on a hot summer day, a car can become dangerously hot even with the windows down.