Dogs Die From Heat Stroke


During the hot summer months, heat illness is one of the leading causes for an emergency Vet visits. Unlike humans, dogs do not have sweat glands and all internal heat is released from their body by panting. Along with the fur, this makes man’s best friend more susceptible to heat exhaustion or heat stroke, if too excited or exercised vigorously during hot days.

Signs of a dog in heat exhaustion are:

  •  Vigorous panting.
  • Gums become a dark red.
  • Dry mucus membranes (specifically around the gums).
  • Lying down and unwilling to get up.
  • Collapse and/or loss of consciousness.
  • Thick saliva.
  • Dizziness or disorientation.
  • Increased rectal temperature, normal temperature range is 100.5 – 102.5. (Over 104° requires action; over 106° is a dire emergency).

If you suspect heat exhaustion, stop all activity and get the dog into shade or a cooler environment. Place wet rags on the foot pads and around the dog’s neck. If you use water to cool them, make sure it is temped and not extremely cold water. Try not to use ice, ice causes blood vessels to constrict and will prevent the core from cooling properly. Place fans to blow cool air on a dog’s coat.

If not treated, heat exhaustion can lead to heat stroke which is a life threatening condition. This happens when the core body temperature is above 105° or higher. At this temperature brain and organ damage begins. Dog breeds with short noses, such as pugs, bulldogs and mastiffs are more susceptible and need to be watched more closely.

To prevent heat exhaustion and heat stroke:

  • NEVER leave your dog in a car. A dog’s body temperature can elevate into the danger zone in less than 20 minutes.
  • Use moderate activities during hot days.
  • Have plenty of water for your dog to drink.
  • Give your dog ample opportunities to rest in the shade.

Some dogs can recover fully from heat stroke if it is caught early enough. Others suffer permanent organ damage and require lifelong treatment. Sadly, many dogs do not survive heat stroke. Prevention is the key to keeping your dog safe during warmer weather.

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