Heat Stroke in Dogs

30 May 2021 | DOGS, ON LOCATION

With summer finally here and temperatures rising it’s important to look out for your four-legged friends. Dogs don’t tolerate high temperatures as well as humans. Because they only have sweat glands in their feet and around their nose, they are less efficient at cooling themselves down. As a result, dogs typically rely on panting to keep themselves cool. Panting is one of the most important ways a dog thermoregulates.

What is Heat Stroke?

Heat stroke is a form of nonpyrogenic hyperthermia, which essentially means a high temperature not caused by a fever. It occurs when dogs are no longer able to self-regulate and keep their temperature at a comfortable level.

What Causes Heat Stroke in Dogs?

There are two types of heat stroke — exertional and non-exertional.

The first occurs during exercise and is much more common on hot sunny days when dogs haven’t had a chance to acclimatise to the sudden rise in heat. Dogs can take up to 60 days to acclimatise to significant changes in temperature, which isn’t ideal in the UK as the weather tends to change from week to week.

The second type is when a dog is exposed to a notable rise in temperature but doesn’t have access to the ventilation, or drinking water, to keep themselves cool. This typically occurs in a parked car, a garden with no shade, or a very hot room.

So How Can You Avoid  Heat Stroke in Dogs?

  • Restrict exercise on hot days – we always tailor our shoots to the weather conditions
  • Never leave dogs in hot rooms or sun traps
  • Avoid long car journeys – make regular stops if you do have to travel a long way.
  • Make sure they have access to a cool shaded place and cool drinking water – we always bring water on our shoots in case you forget.
  • Always take water on a walk – there are some handy waterbottles with built in bowls.
  • In summer, walk your dog early in the morning or later in the evening – these are ideal times for pawtrait shoots as the light is often softer.
  • Spray your dog with cool water
  • Never leave your dog in a parked car

Signs of  Heat Stroke in Dogs?

  • Faster, heavier panting
  • Barking, whining or signs of agitation
  • Excessive thirst
  • Excessive drooling
  • Increased pulse and heartbeat
  • Dark-coloured (red or purple) gums or tongue
  • Glassy eyes
  • Elevated body temperature of 40ºC (104ºF) and up
  • Staggering, weakness or collapse
  • Seizures
  • Unconsciousness
Dog Panting by Tree

If You Think Your Dog has Heat Stroke

Don’t Delay! Call your vet or, out of hours, your nearest pet emergency clinic.

Heat stroke takes effect very quickly and is an emergency that requires immediate recognition and prompt treatment. Otherwise, it can result in death.


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