Help! My Dog Has Heat Stroke

‘At A Glance (Details Below)’ Emergency Care

How To Treat A Dog With Heat Stroke

  1. Move the dog from the hot area and provide water if the dog can drink
  2. Wet the dog with cool water and apply cold packs to the neck and groin
  3. Travel to your vet as quickly as safe to do so; call them on the way

Now dive deeper.

Every dog owner needs to know how easily heat stroke can harm their dog.

Heat exhaustion is caused by excessive body temperature. Anything over 39C is abnormal but heat stroke typically occurs at over 41C.

Why are dogs at risk of heat stress?

  • Dogs can’t sweat. Imagine how that changes things
  • Obesity and long hair make heat loss difficult
  • Short faced breeds can’t pant as effectively- examples are bulldogs, pugs, boxers and shi tzus
  • Dogs don’t know when to stop. Dogs who love to work, run or chase a ball will keep doing it if encouraged
  • Dogs can be confined to a hot area. Examples include cars, hot rooms, crates or yards without shade
  • Dog water bowls can run out or tip over- the picture shows an old surgery theatre light I cemented down to stop Loki playing in it & knocking it over
  • Dogs are descended from wolves, not dingoes- their natural environment is much cooler than ours

What does heat stress look like?

  • Wobbly, unsteady walking
  • Disorientation or Collapse
  • Extreme panting and drooling
  • Dark red gums
  • Extreme cases include seizures, bleeding, multiple organ failure and death

How can you prevent heat stroke?

  • Clip long hair in the warm months
  • Keep your dog at their ideal body weight
  • Give dogs the freedom to choose a cool place on a hot day
  • Provide a shallow wading pool if your dog likes water
  • Allow access to the house if possible
  • Board your dog in monitored air conditioned premises if necessary
  • Do not exercise dogs in hot conditions- in summer the only good time can be before sunrise on hot days
  • Make frozen treats for your dog on hot days
  • Be prepared for power failures. Don’t just rely on air conditioning; if you aren’t at home and remember fans don’t work well as dogs don’t sweat.

How do you treat a dog with heat stroke?

  • Move the dog from the hot area
  • Provide water if your dog can drink
  • Travel to your vet as quickly as safe to do so; call them on the way


  • Wet the dog all over with cool water
  • Apply cold packs to the neck and groin

By Andrew Spanner BVSc(Hons) MVetStud, a vet in Adelaide, Australia. These help topics are from a series regularly posted on email and Twitter. The information provided here is not intended to be used as a substitute for going to the vet. If your pet has has a problem, please seek veterinary attention.
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