Dogs are only able to lose heat by sweating from their nose and paws and by panting. They are therefore highly susceptible to overheating.
You should watch out for signs of heat exhaustion, particularly if your dog is panting heavily and appears distressed on a hot day or after exercise. Short-nosed dogs (e.g. boxers, pugs), older and overweight dogs are particularly susceptible to getting overheated and out of breath when exercising.
Signs and Symptoms
- Rapid, heavy panting
- Fast breathing
- Fast, weak pulse
- Raised body temperature
Heat exhaustion occurs when their temperature rises over 39.3°C and heat stroke over 41°C.
Heat stroke is a serious medical emergency which requires urgent veterinary help.
How to Prevent Heatstroke
- Make sure your dog has access to clean water at all times. Carry water and a bowl with you on walks.
- Remember to have fresh water accessible on the beach too, as drinking sea water will make them ill.
- On hot days, walk your dog during the cooler parts of the day – in the early morning and late evening.
- Watch your pet for signs of overheating, including heavy panting and loss of energy and if necessary, stop, find a shady spot and give your dog water.
Never leave your dog (or any pet) alone in a car, even with the windows open.
- Get urgent veterinary advice.
- Pour tepid water gently all over the dog and, if available, position near a fan to aid cooling.
- Ensure they have easy access to drinking water.
- Transport the dog to the vet with the car windows open and/or put on the air conditioning on.
- Never immerse the dog in icy water as you may put them into shock.
First Aid for Pets provides this information for guidance and it is not in any way a substitute for veterinary advice. The author does not accept any liability or responsibility for any inaccuracies or for any mistreatment or misdiagnosis of any person or animal, however caused. It is strongly advised that you attend a practical First Aid for Pets course or take our online course to understand what to do in a medical emergency.