A dog overheating is a common and serious consequence of the summer heat that can lead to serious life-threatening emergencies such as heat exhaustion, heat stroke and death if not caught early and managed.
It is so important that pet parents are aware of the signs and dangers of our pets becoming over heated and are equipped with ways to prevent it. So, here we’ll discuss overheating in dogs, signs to look for and most importantly, the best ways to prevent overheating from happening with my vet-recommended advice. Let’s get started.
What Causes Dog Overheating?
Unlike us, dogs have very few sweat glands on the bottom of their paws, which do little to regulate their body temperature. Dogs cool down by panting or rapid open mouth breathing.
A dog’s fur coat helps protect their skin and regulate core temperature. When panting is not enough to cool your pup down in excessive heat or exertion, overheating may ensue.
If not detected and treated immediately, a dog overheating can lead to heat exhaustion: a condition in which the core body temperature of your pet is above the normal 103 degrees Fahrenheit.
If left untreated, heat exhaustion can lead to heat stroke: a condition caused by the body overheating, usually because of prolonged exposure to, or physical exertion in, high temperatures. When the core body temperature of your pet reaches 106 degrees Fahrenheit, the cells in the body become damaged, which may result in organ failure.
What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Overheating?
First Signs of Over Heating:
- Excessive panting in dogs
- Noisy loud rapid breathing in dogs
- Lethargy and weakness
- The gums may feel dry and sticky (this is a sign of dehydration)
Signs of Overheating Which May Lead to Life Threatening Conditions:
- Dark red gums (the normal color of your pet’s gums should be light pink)
- Vomiting blood
- Not acting like themselves (wobbly or walking drunk)
- Increased heart rate
- Small amounts to no urine
- Bloody or dark black tarry diarrhea
- Seizures if severe
- Collapse if severe
- Difficulty breathing
How Can I Prevent My Pet From Overheating?
The following are the best ways to prevent your pet from overheating this summer:
- Make sure your pets have access to shade, water and a cool area.
- Try to pick times of the day that are not so hot such as the early morning or evening for walks and carry a water bottle for your pet. The KONG H2O dog water bottle keeps water cool and comes with a portable bowl.
- Never leave your dog in a car with no air-conditioning running even with open windows.
- Learn how to cool down a dog: I love pet fountains, cooling dog beds and elevated dog beds to keep them up off the warm ground.
- Water. The Drinkwell 360 fountain is perfect for multi-pet households, and the steady stream of fresh water encourages more frequent water breaks.
It is important to note that Brachycephalic breeds (dogs that have a flat and wide skull shape, such as bulldogs, Pekingese and pugs) and overweight dogs are more prone to heat stroke. Extra preventative measures, possibly including respiratory care and asthma management medications, should be taken for these dogs during hotter months.
If you exercise outside with your pet, confirm with your veterinarian that your pet is healthy enough. If you have any questions or concerns, you should visit or call your veterinarian. They are your best resource to ensure the health and well-being of your pets.