Heat Stroke in Dogs

Heat Stroke in Dogs

Heat Stroke in Dogs

Summertime in Northern Virginia is when everyone enjoys playing, relaxing, and entertaining outside, especially with our pets. However, there are certain safety issues that must be considered when our pets are outside and the temperature reaches for the triple digits. Heatstroke can occur during the hot summer months, so it is very important to keep your dog cool. If you have a dog walker, be sure she has an emergency plan and is certified in first aid.  Also, ask your dog walker to walk your pet where there is plenty of shade and grass; it only takes a couple of minutes for a dog to overheat.

Your dog’s normal body temperature ranges between 100 and 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit and when his body temperature elevates above 106 F, his normal cooling mechanisms become overwhelmed, which can result in a serious condition that may require medical attention. Furthermore, high temperatures can lead to dehydration and blood thickening, which puts strain on the heart. Certain breeds of dogs are more prone to heat related problems than others. Large breeds like the Chow Chow are very susceptible to overheating. Malamutes, Huskies, American Eskimos, and Newfoundlands, all dogs that prefer colder climates, often have little tolerance for heat and humidity and should not be kept in very hot climates. Bulldogs, Pugs, Shar-Peis, and Boston Terriers or any breeds with shorter muzzles have difficulty coping with heat because of their short and narrow respiratory systems.

Symptoms of a canine heat stroke include:

  • Bright red tongue
  • Diarrhea
  • Rapid and frantic panting
  • Staggering
  • Thick saliva
  • Vomiting
  • Wide eyes
  • Coma

Here are some tips for you and your dog walker to help prevent your dog from getting a heat stroke:

  • Keep the dog in a shaded, cool, and well-ventilated area during the hot hours of the day. Dogs can also get sunburn, so be sure to use sunscreen that is approved for dogs and pets.
  • Provide plenty of fresh, cold drinking water throughout the day.
  • Limit the amount of exercise—exercise your dog early in the morning before it gets too hot. Hot pavement can burn the pads on a dog’s feet.
  • A haircut in the summer can help dog breeds with long or double coats to relieve heat stress.
  • Do not leave your dog in a parked car unattended, even if it’s only for a few minutes! The temperature inside the car can rise very quickly (reaching 120 F in as little as 10 minutes), especially if the car is in the sun and there is high humidity. In Northern Virginia, where we have very humid days, it can be very dangerous for a pet to be left in a hot car!
  • Set-up a small wading pool in the shade where your dog can refresh and cool down.
  • If you are going for a walk with your dog or to the park, bring a bottle of cold water with you—they will need it, especially if they run a lot. There are a number of popular dog parks in Northern Virginia!
  • If you are at the beach, be sure to let your dog go for a swim every hour or so to keep him cool.


Keep your pet safe this summer. If you act quickly, you can prevent heat stroke!


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