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Heat Exhaustion in Dogs

Though heat exhaustion is commonly seen in dogs during summer, not many dog owners know about it. This post lists the symptoms, treatment, and prevention of this dangerous canine health problem.
Deepa Kartha Jun 3, 2019
When human beings are exposed to heat for a long time, they suffer from heat exhaustion. In the same way, this problem can also occur in dogs. However, the only difference here is that canines cannot express their discomfort through words as humans can.
Hence, it is important for people who have dogs as pets to know about heat exhaustion in canines so that they can take immediate action when they observe its signs and symptoms.


Heat exhaustion usually occurs when the canine is kept outdoors for a long period of time during summer. Moreover, active dogs like to run and play around even when the temperature is extremely dry and will not stop until they are too exhausted.
Dogs that are locked inside a car are also at a high risk of developing heat exhaustion as the inner temperature of a car can go beyond 130 degrees F even with the windows rolled down. This can occur not only on a warm day, but also on a day when the weather is mild. Whether a dog will experience heat exhaustion also depends on which breed it belongs to.
For example, canines who are obese and breeds that are short-nosed like Bulldogs, pugs, etc. have a high risk of developing this health problem. If not given immediate treatment, it may turn into a heat stroke which can be life-threatening for your canine.


When you take your pet dog outdoors during summer, do not forget to observe its behavior to know whether it is showing any symptoms of heat exhaustion. The first symptom is heavy panting. As dogs do not have sweat glands like humans, when they feel too hot, they start panting to release the heat from their body.
However, when a dog is having heat exhaustion, the panting will be vigorous or heavier than normal after the dog indulges in certain activities. Other signs include the following.
  • Deep breathing or hyperventilation
  • Anxiousness
  • Deliriousness
  • Dark-red gums
  • Restlessness
  • Dizziness or confusion
  • Thick saliva
  • Inattentiveness
  • Increased salvation followed by dry gums
  • Weakness
  • Very high temperature
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting


If you observe these symptoms in your canine, the first thing you have to do is to check its body temperature. The normal temperature of a dog is usually somewhere around 101 to 103 degrees.
However, if it is affected by heat exhaustion, its body temperature can shoot beyond 104 degrees. If this is the condition, the dog should be given immediate medical attention. However, before taking it to a vet, there are certain important steps that you have to take in order to bring back its temperature to normal.
  • If your pet dog is showing the signs of heat exhaustion, shift it too a cooler location, either in an air conditioned room or in a shaded area away from direct exposure of the sun.
  • Once you have done this, pour cool water or apply an ice pack on the dog to bring down its body temperature. Now, here you need to be careful, as applying an ice pack on its back can damage its internal organs beyond repair. Hence, carry out this procedure on the dog's belly.
  • While experiencing heat exhaustion, there are chances that your dog may vomit the food that it has eaten. Under such circumstances, do not give it water to drink as it may vomit this too. Therefore, try cooling it by other methods and let it drink water only after the body temperature reaches 103 degrees.
  • Once the temperature is brought back to normal and the signs of heat exhaustion diminish, take your canine to the vet, who will do a complete check up to see whether any long term effects have occurred.

Tips for Prevention

Although treating this problem is possible, it can cause certain long-term problems like damage to the internal organs which may prove fatal to the canine. As the consequences of heat exhaustion are extremely dangerous, owners need to take certain important precautions to prevent their canine from getting affected by it.
One of the very important ways of keeping your canine far from this risk is by keeping it hydrated. Make sure that cool water is available to your pet throughout the day. Also see to it that your canine does not indulge in vigorous activities during summer.
Another important thing that you should remember is to never leave the canine in a hot car, even if the windows are open. If your dog has thick or long hair, make it a point to cut it short during summer. However, do not shave it off fully because the dog's coat protects it from a sun stroke.
Following these treatments and precautions is the best way to protect your dog from the dangerous after-effects of heat exhaustion.