It’s that time of year again when the temperatures rise and we spend more time outdoors playing with our families and pets. We want to do all we can to keep our pets happy, healthy, and in our lives as long as possible. Being aware of what heatstroke and signs and symptoms look like for a dog is a very important part of keeping them safe, happy, and healthy and also keeping our lives a little more stress-free.

Dogs already have higher body temperatures than humans (between 101°F- 102.5°F), and they do not have the ability to sweat as humans do. This limits their capacity to disperse and regulate their body temperatures. Dogs are only able to release heat through panting and even though they have the ability to sweat, they can only do this through their nose and paw pads.

heatstroke in dogs in north hollywood, ca

Despite the fact there are many signs or symptoms of heatstroke to watch for, some are much more obvious than others. Knowing these signs and symptoms can help prevent irreversible damage or even save your beloved pup’s life. Preventing damaging heatstroke is the best option, however, not always possible. Knowing what to watch for can stop it before it becomes severe. Learn more about the signs of heatstroke, and if you have any questions, call Blue Cross Pet Hospital in North Hollywood at (818) 980-1313.

Early Signs

The most telling and very early signs of heatstroke are excessive panting and unusual or excessive drooling. Your dog may also show signs of some confusion, disorientation, or may just be acting out of the ordinary and uncomfortable. At these very first signs, immediate attention is crucial for the prevention of major damage or even death of your pet. If you happen to notice these first and obvious signs of heatstroke, remove your dog from the hot environment immediately and begin cooling them down with cool towels or even a cool bath. Do not use ice or very cold water, as this can be more damaging.

Severe Signs of Heatstroke

Although drooling, panting, and confusion are the most obvious and generally the first signs of heatstroke there are other signs to check for. Your dog may start vomiting or have uncontrollable excessive diarrhea without any other explanation. Your pet’s skin may be hot to the touch. Check your pet’s mouth for bright red gums and tongue; these are also signs of dehydration and heatstroke. Signs of shock may include white or blue gums, very rapid heart rate, or even a drop in heart rate. If your pet collapses, has a seizure or goes into a coma, get your pet medical attention immediately. These are severe signs of heatstroke that are deadly.


Keep your pet cool and comfortable and allow them to drink as much cool (not iced or very cold water) water as they would like, do not force them. Placing cool wet towels on your dog is also a great way to keep them from overheating and cool them off.  If your dog’s body temperature rises too high (above 104°F) he is in danger, if it rises higher (above 106°F) this is called hyperthermia and severe. It can cause the heart, liver, kidney, and brain to shut down causing shock and irreversible organ damage.

Contributing Factors

Many factors can contribute to how susceptible a dog is to heatstroke. Breeds such as those with long or thick hair or short noses tend to get heatstroke easier. Older dogs and puppies can be more sensitive to heat also. Physical fitness and weight, especially overweight and obese dogs or dogs with underlying health conditions are more prone to heatstroke. If your dog fits into any of these categories you should be more watchful and aware of the signs and symptoms of heatstroke. The key to keeping your pet safe is prevention in the first place but sometimes it happens when we do not expect it to. The number one way a dog gets heatstroke is by being locked in a hot car. Even with the windows down, a car can act like an oven. Avoiding exercise or exertion on hot or humid days is also a good option to keep them from overheating. Leaving your dog without shade and water is also very dangerous.

If you spot any signs or symptoms of heatstroke, bring your pet to a cool place immediately and contact your veterinarian to be safe and sure the animal does not worsen. Even the first signs of panting and drooling can change quickly and have negative effects on the dogs that are not visible. The chances of your pet having another heatstroke episode increase after they have already had one, so prevention is the best way to go. 

So remember to keep your dogs cool, safe and happy and watch for tell-tale signs they are getting overheated and uncomfortable. First heavy panting, excessive drooling, and looking or seeming uncomfortable or confused. Check the dogs’ gums and tongue for redness or paleness and get the dog cooled down immediately. Contact your vet even if the symptoms seem minor. If the dog has a seizure, collapses, or becomes unconscious, bring your dog to the vet immediately. Call Blue Cross Pet Hospital at (818) 980-1313.