Its a Heat Wave, Don’t Let Your Dogs Overheat!

hot dog with thermometerHeat stroke is a serious concern for dogs. When their body temperature rises from the normal 100-103 degrees to roughly 104 or 105, they lose the ability to regulate their internal temperature, which can cause organ damage or even death.

Dogs aren’t very efficient at self-cooling because:

  • They don’t sweat like humans – their main cooling method is panting. Dogs with short snouts, such as Bulldogs, Boxers, Shih Tzus, and so on, are even more susceptible to overheating because they can’t pant as much as dogs with longer snouts.
  • They wear fur coats year-round – while their coats actually do a little to promote cooling by trapping a bit of cool air close to the skin, it only works for so long.
  • They can’t open windows, turn on fans, or fill their own water bowls.
  • They can’t hide from the heat by turning on the AC

Cooling dog off with water

Preventing heat stroke is therefore crucial to your dog’s health. Here are some things you can do:

Stay Cool

  • If your dog is indoors for most of the day and you have air conditioning, that’s really helpful. If you don’t, keep some fans running to help cool them down.
  • If your dog spends most of their time outdoors, make sure you provide plenty of shade, and encourage rest in shady areas by putting his food and water bowls there. You can also use an outdoor fan; make sure you keep the cords out of their reach.
  • Some dogs enjoy a plastic kiddie pool full of water placed in the shade.
  • Providing shade or even wetting the grass or cement to help lower the temperature will help
  • If you have a swimming pool, please remember that dogs can’t climb ladders. If you want your dog to have access to the pool, be sure to train them to use the steps or swim-out; otherwise, make sure your dog can’t get into the pool when you’re not there to help him out.

Provide water

  • There must be a constant source of fresh water for your dog, and if possible, tossing a few ice cubes in it every now and then makes it even more refreshing.

Practice safe exercise

  • Restrict walks and rigorous playtime to short sessions in the early morning or late evening, and stop for frequent water breaks. You could even bring along a misting bottle so you can spray him off every now and then.
  • When you return home, you can hose your dog down if they like that, but remember to run the water first, since any water sitting in the hose will be hot!
  • If your dog appears to be slowing down that may be a sign they are getting too hot

Leave your dog at home

  • Never ever, ever leave your dog in the car. Not on cooler days, not in the shade, not with the windows open. If you are stopping anywhere that you can’t bring your dog, leave them at home.
    Heat stroke in dogs is a very serious issue, and preventing it is far better than treating it. Enjoy your summer, but take precautions so your dog can stay safe and enjoy it too.

signs of overheating diagramDogs who are overheating to a dangerous degree may show signs like:

  • Excessive panting
  • Pale gums
  • Racing heart
  • Drooling with thick, rope-like saliva
  • Vomiting

What to do:

  • Immediately move your dog to a cooler area, preferably a cool room in an air-conditioned building. If that is not an option, move him in front of a fan or to a shady area.
  • Wet them down with cool, but not ice cold, water, either by using a hose or placing him in a tub. Saturate their footpads and neck with rubbing alcohol.
  • Call your veterinarian. If possible, check there temperature with a rectal thermometer and report the temperature to your veterinarian. You may have to wait until they cools to 102-103 degrees before moving him. When it’s time, put wet towels on him and take him to your veterinarian.
  • Please watch our video on how to take a dog’s rectal temperature at

Even if your dog looks okay, your dog should see the veterinarian and make sure there is no organ damage.  They are likely to at least have some gastrointestinal upset.

What your veterinarian will do:

Your veterinarian will begin lifesaving treatment to avoid organ damage. This might include intravenous fluids for rehydration, medications to stabilize respiration, and treatment for shock. Your

veterinarian may recommend hospitalization for further treatment and laboratory tests.  Hopefully, you will have a safe and happy summer without ever having to go through this, but now you know what to look for and what to do about it.

If you believe your pet is suffering from heat stroke or want to learn more contact Meadowlands Veterinary Hospital at 201-646-2008 or




By |June 30th, 2018|
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