Heat Exhaustion & Heat Stroke in Dogs

This is general information only gathered from various resources and is not intended as veterinary advice.  Please consult a veterinarian if you have concerns about the health of your dog. 

Dogs that are at higher risk for heat exhaustion and heatstroke include breeds with shorter snouts (e.g. Shih Tzus, Pugs, Boston Terriers, Boxers, Bulldogs) and those with weaker bodies like older dogs, young puppies, and ill dogs.

Dogs cool themselves by panting to maintain their normal body temperature (101 to 102.5 F ; 38 to 39 C). Dogs can sweat through their noses and pads but this doesn’t do much to cool them. Overheating can cause severe tissue damage in minutes, affecting important organs like the brain, kidneys, liver, and the digestive system in minutes.

Heatstroke occurs when the dog’s temperature reaches 109 F (42.8 C) or above.

Symptoms can include:

  • Heavy panting
  • Excessive thirst
  • Glazed eyes
  • Vomiting and bloody diarrhea
  • Bright or dark red tongue, gums
  • Staggering
  • Elevated body temperature (104ºF and up)
  • Weakness, collapse
  • Increased pulse and heartbeat
  • Seizures
  • Excessive drooling
  • Unconsciousness

What to do:

Move dog out of heat and to the shade or air conditioning.

If the dog can stand and is conscious,

  • give small drinks of water (too much too fast can cause vomiting)
  • Take temperature. If the dog is 104 F (40 C) or lower, continue to monitor temperature
  • contact vet for further instructions even if dog seems recovered

If the dog cannot stand, seems unresponsive, or if the dog is having seizures:

  • confirm the dog is breathing it has a heartbeat
  • stay with dog (don’t try to immobilize a dog having seizures, just supervise to keep the area around the dog clear to avoid injury to the dog and anyone nearby; time the seizure and observe details that your vet may ask you about)
  • notify vet that you are bringing in the dog
  • begin to cool the dog gradually with COOL water (NOT COLD water) by placing wet towels or gently pouring COOL (NOT COLD) water on belly area, back of head and the underside of neck. Do not pour water into dog’s mouth.
  • DO NOT PUT DOG IN A POOL OR TUB OF COLD WATER
  • Take dog’s temperature. If it is at 104 F (40 C) or lower, STOP THE COOLING PROCESS (to avoid risk of blood clotting or temperature dropping too low)
  • Take dog to vet ASAP even if the dog seems to be getting better

PREVENTING HEAT EXHAUSTION & HEATSTROKE:

  • Provide LOTS of fresh, clean water at all times.
  • On warm days, dogs outside should have access to shade.
  • There is mixed opinion on the effects of “summer haircuts” (not suitable for all dogs). It has been suggested that in order to protect the dog’s skin from the sun, the dog’s fur should be trimmed no shorter than an inch (a few centimetres).
  • Exercise dogs during the coolest parts of the day. Stay in the shade when possible.
  • 32 C or hotter, dog should be kept indoors.
  • Limit exercise or play sessions; keep them short; take lots of breaks to cool down.
  • The heat from the concrete or asphalt can overheat your dog (and burn paws).
  • Never put dog in a hot vehicle (parked or being driven). It’s better to leave the dog at home where it’s cool and there is fresh water to drink.

SUP PUP: Building Relationships and Improving Behaviours

Stand Up Paddle Boarding with your dog (SUP PUP) can be a fantastic opportunity to bond with your dog, and as a bonus, improve your dog’s behaviours.

  • Build your dog’s confidence by teaching a new skill using positive reinforcement (while avoiding coercion, corrections, pressure)
  • Improve your dog’s ability to show self-control with SUP PUP skills (especially around distractions)
  • Foster a closer bond with your dog as you enjoy the activity together
  • Enrich your dog’s mental, emotional, and physical well-being

You can also book a private SUP PUP playdate for your dog and the instructor. This is a great option for people who are unable to SUP PUP with their dog but want their dogs to have the opportunity.

The gentle, positive, fun SUP PUP training can help shy, timid dogs gain confidence.

For exuberant, lively dogs (especially ones that are overly excited by the water), this SUP PUP training can help build impulse control and manners.

SUP PUP equipment and safety equipment provided. Instructor is CPDT-KA Certified with over 13 years experience in force-free dog training and behaviour modification. Certification in Pet First Aid (with Walks ‘n’ Wags) and Red Cross Standard First Aid/CPR. Paddle Canada Basic SUP Course and over a year of SUP experience.

Follow SUP PUP Paddling With Dogs on Facebook.