Can Dogs Get Heat Stroke?

June 20, 2022 // 9 minute read

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From where we are, the surroundings can get very hot during summer. And during these times, I tend to keep my dog inside at all times because I fear that he will suffer from the dangers of overheating. 

This is not me being paranoid. If you don’t know it yet, there are many risks brought by too much sun exposure, including heatstroke. But, can dogs get heat stroke?

Yes, dogs can get heat stroke, and just like with humans, it’s very dangerous. This happens when your dog’s body temperature gets so high that the body can no longer tolerate it. If not handled immediately, it can be fatal to your dog, causing him to become disabled, or worse, die. 

As this is a very important topic to discuss, we’re going to dive more into this and talk about: 

  • Why dogs are more prone to overheating
  • Signs of overheating and heatstroke that you should watch out for
  • What to do if your dog suffers from heat stroke
  • Ways to help your dog stay cool during summer

Now, let’s dive into the article and answer the question “Can Dogs Get Heat Stroke?”

border collie overheating and panting
Photo by smrm1977 on DepositPhotos.com

Why Are Dogs Prone To Overheating

Try to imagine this:

It’s summer, it’s beach time, and you’re wearing this thick winter sweater. How would you feel? Hot, right? 

This is exactly what your dog feels, too. Regardless if they’re short-coated or thick-coated dogs, they feel the heat when it’s summer. The only difference between dogs and us is that they can’t release the excess heat from their body easily. So, how can dogs get heat stroke like the way humans do?

For us, we sweat to release body heat to cool down. Dogs, however, have very few sweat glands and can only be found in their paws. So, the most effective way they can cool down is through panting, which can be really exhausting. 

It’s even more overwhelming for flat-nosed or brachycephalic dog breeds like Pugs, Bulldogs, and Shih-Tzus because it’s harder for them to breathe. Obese dogs, senior dogs, thick-coated dogs, and dogs with underlying medical conditions are also more vulnerable than most dogs. 

Can Dogs Get Heat Stroke? Signs of Overheating To Watch Out For

Now that you know that dogs are more vulnerable to heat, you should watch out for some signs that will tell you if your dog is overheated. This includes: 

  1. Panting more heavily
  2. Trying to look for some shade
  3. Excessive tiredness
  4. Continuously drinking a lot of water
  5. Dark or bright red gums

Can dogs get heat stroke even if they only show one or two of these symptoms? Yes. If you see at least two of these signs, don’t just dismiss them. Take action immediately and help your dog cool down. Because if you don’t, it will lead to heat stroke. So, if you wonder can dogs get heat stroke and don’t know how to tell if your dog is overheating, here are some signs to watch out for: 

  • Frantic panting (this is already very heavy panting)
  • Drooling
  • Heart rate increasing rapidly
  • Vomiting/Diarrhea with blood in it
  • Collapse

Don’t wait until you observe the heatstroke signs before you take action. If possible, always keep an eye on your dog and make sure that he stays cool. 

Can Dogs Get Heat Stroke? What To Do If Your Dog Suffers From Overheating

Now, let’s say your dog did suffer from heatstroke; you’ve seen signs of heatstroke. If this happens, don’t panic, because I know most of us probably would. But, try to stay calm.

The first thing you should do is to rush your dog to the vet immediately. Professional help is what you need at these times, especially because heat stroke can be fatal. Take a mental note of how the symptoms progressed, as the vet will probably need this information. 

While on your way to the vet, find ways to cool your dog down. So, you’d probably need someone to drive you to the vet while you apply first aid. 

Here are some important reminders on how to cool down your dog: 

  1. Remove your dog from the hot environment. While on your way, make sure that your dog is not getting hotter than he already is. If possible, turn the AC on in the car and make sure that the air coming out of the vent is going in your dog’s direction. 
  1. Don’t throw cold water on your dog, as this might put him into shock. Instead, apply cool water using a cloth or towel and focus on your dog’s tongue, ears, neck, legs, and paws. 
  1. Don’t give your dog aspirin to help lower his temperature. That won’t work and will only lead to more health problems. 
  1. Let your dog drink cool water if they want to. Don’t force them if they feel tired but try to offer as much as possible to keep them hydrated. 

Keep these four in mind while on your way to the vet. Don’t let your dog just lie down and not do anything, as that will make things worse. Make sure to apply first aid, and your vet will handle the rest once you get there. 

white dog laying down and being comforted by person
Photo by kittima05 on DepositPhotos.com

Ways To Help Your Dog Stay Cool This Summer

Now, you don’t have to let things reach the point of your dog getting a heat stroke before you do something. As they say, prevention is always important, so why not find ways to help your dog stay cool during the summer? 

Here are some great tips: 

Keep Your Dog Hydrated

Water is very important during the summer season. Keep them hydrated by always making sure that their drinking bowl is filled with water. If you can put in some ice-cold water, this will definitely freshen him up. 

If you’re out for a walk and you know you won’t be passing by some water fountains, bring lots of water and let your dog drink every 10 to 15 minutes. Your dog should never be out of the water, so he doesn’t get exhausted easily. 

Take A Dip In The Pool

We love going to the beach in the summer to cool ourselves. For dogs, you can take them swimming in a small dipping pool right in your backyard. Fun, right? Just a reminder, though, that don’t put your dog in the pool when he’s really hot as this might put him in panic or shock. 

Schedule Your Walks

I know walking your dog is very important, but, try to avoid the midday heat. It’s best to keep your walks scheduled early in the morning and late in the afternoon when the sun is not so high. This way, your dog stays cool. 

Take A Break Under Shade

If you’re taking your dog out for a walk and it’s too hot, don’t forget to take some breaks. Look for a shade from time to time and let your dog rest there for several minutes. This will also help protect your dog’s paws, especially if the road is too hot to walk on. It’s also probably best to have your dog wear some shoes to protect them from hot cement. 

Have Your Dog Wear A Dog Cooling Vest

Fortunately, with the help of technology, we now have dog cooling products that can help your dog stay cool while out under the hot sun. It mainly uses an evaporative process to remove excess heat from your dog’s body, helping him stay cool. 

If it’s the first time you’ve heard about it, this product is very easy to use. It has a very streamlined design that works effectively in cooling your dog down. 

The cheapest and most common type of dog cooling vest is the evaporative dog cooling vest. To use it, all you have to do is fill up a basin with ice-cold water, then immerse the vest in it. Wait for a few minutes, remove the vest, wring it out thoroughly, and put it on your dog. You just need to make sure that the vest is no longer dripping wet, so your dog stays dry while feeling that coolness. 

There are two other types of dog cooling vests. The ice chill dog cooling vest utilizes ice cubes or frozen cooling packs, and the cool flow dog cooling vest you can fill up with water. Both are also very effective in keeping your dog cool. 

dog laying down with water bowl in front of large fan
Photo by lucidwaters on DepositPhotos.com

Final Say

We hope we answered the question ”Can Dogs Get Heat Stroke?” for you. Summer heat can have terrible effects on our little furry friends. So, if there are ways you can prevent the worst scenarios from happening, you should do it. For me, one important step is buying a dog cooling vest. 

I think that these products are great investments and something you should definitely check out. Because other than just providing a cooling sensation to your dogs, they also protect them from any harm brought by too much sun exposure, such as cancer, skin irritation, and sunburns. 

It’s definitely worth the money you spend, and if you need help finding the best dog cooling vest for your pet, you can also see our buying guide.

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