Heat Exhaustion in Dogs

Heat Exhaustion in Dogs

Think about the last time you were outside and it was really hot. Didn’t you feel sort of sluggish and miserable? Now, imagine how your dog feels.

Your dog can get sick after playing outside and overheating. This is a serious medical emergency and must be prevented where possible. Here are some of the signs you can look out for, and everything else you need to know about heat exhaustion in dogs:


Heat exhaustion, as the name suggests, happens when a dog’s body temperature is too high. A normal body temperature is between 100.5℉-102.5℉. Anything above that is too high. Note that small spikes may be caused by excitement or stress and are usually nothing to worry about. Your danger signals should go off at 104 ℉ or greater.

Usually, heat exhaustion is caused by external sources, but it can also be caused by physical exertion. Some situations that can cause heat exhaustion in dogs include things like sitting in a hot car, over-exercising, being outside without shade, or going on a walk when it’s too hot.

Dog’s are not great at regulating their body temperature and can only sweat through their paw pads. They also pant to keep themselves cool. Short-nosed or brachycephalic dogs are more susceptible to heat exhaustion. Similarly, flat-faced dogs are more likely to overheat since they have difficulty breathing and panting. Dogs with long hair and big coats are also more likely to suffer from heat exhaustion.

In some cases, heat exhaustion may be brought on by a fever, often caused by infections.

Signs and symptoms

As a dog parent, you must be able to quickly identify the signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion to keep your dog safe. These include:

  • Excessive panting and drooling
  • Feeling hot to the touch
  • Fainting
  • Being unresponsive
  • Red gums
  • Vomiting
  • Lethargy
  • Seizure

Report these symptoms to your vet immediately. They can quickly turn into organ damage.

Heatstroke vs heat exhaustion

Heat exhaustion is considered a milder form of heatstroke. The difference is that heatstroke shows organ damage and neurological damage. Heat exhaustion will display signs such as weakness, muscle tremors, and vomiting, while heat stroke will display signs such as unresponsiveness and coma which are more severe.

What you can do to help

If you notice your dog has any of the mentioned signs or symptoms, bring him/her to the vet immediately. During this time, you may try to cool your dog down using air conditioning or encouraging him/her to drink water (not cold). Do not think you can handle this on your own or go home without getting your dog checked out. Your vet will provide an IV to improve hydration, provide oxygen to regulate breathing, and monitor any changes that may occur.


You can prevent heat exhaustion in your dog by avoiding high-temperature situations that require your dog to exert effort. Ensure your dog has access to shade and cool water. You should also bring dog bottles when you are on the go to keep your dog hydrated.

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