13 Signs of Heatstroke in Dogs

A canine experiences heatstroke when they get too hot and are unable to reduce their body temperature. If left untreated, this can be fatal. And that’s why it’s so important to know the warning signs.

Find out more about the signs of heatstroke by reading our Pewaukee, WI, animal hospital‘s article below.

dog heatstroke pewaukee, wi

Signs of Heatstroke in Dogs

Here are 13 of the indications that your dog may be suffering from heatstroke:

  1. Heavy panting and difficulty breathing
  2. Excessive drooling
  3. Lethargy or drowsiness (or losing coordination/seeming disoriented)
  4. Collapsing or vomiting
  5. Glazed over eyes
  6. Resistance to movement
  7. Diarrhea
  8. Excessive thirst
  9. Dry mucous membranes and/or bright red gums and tongue
  10. Skin that is hot to the touch
  11. A higher heart rate
  12. Seizures
  13. A temperature over 103°F

However, if you notice your dog demonstrating one of or more of those behaviors, you should*:

  • Move them to a shaded and cool area
  • Pour cool** (but not too cold—which can cause shock) water over their body (and continue to pour until your dog’s breathing settles [but not too much as to cause shivering])
  • Allow them to drink small amounts of cool water

Once you are sure that your dog has cooled down, take them to a vet as soon as possible.

You should be aware that some dogs, especially very old or very young, with thick heavy coats, and with short, flat faces (like Boston Terriers, Boxers, Pugs, or Bulldogs) are at a higher risk. So are those with certain medical conditions or that take certain medications.

*-If your dog is unconscious, these methods of cooling need to be of the utmost priority—even though it will stop panting because it still has a very high temperature.

**-Tap water that is between 60-61°F has been seen to be the most effective.

What to Avoid if Your Dog Has Heatstroke

On the contrary, here are things you should avoid doing if you suspect that your dog is suffering from heatstroke:

Pouring Water on Their Head

This can lead to inhaling water and drowning.

Placing Wet Towels Over Their Body

This can actually worsen the condition by trapping in heat (although towels can be placed under a dog experiencing a mild case of heatstroke).


You can potentially avoid heatstroke by limiting your dog’s exercise, particularly when it is hot outside.

Never Leave Your Dog in a Car on a Hot Day

Avoid leaving your dog in a car on a hot day, or even on a warm day. Temperatures inside a vehicle, even with the windows cracked, can increase drastically in a matter of minutes, which could cause harm, and even be fatal for your dog.

FAQs About Heatstroke in Dogs

1. Q: What Puts Dogs at Risk of Heatstroke?

A: Other than being of a particular breed (like the flat-faced ones mentioned earlier), dogs are at most risk of developing heatstroke if the temperature outside is over 106°F (although heatstroke can occur in any weather) because dogs can no longer regulate their body temperatures beyond that point. Further, dogs that are overweight or have thick fur may also be at an increased risk.

2. Q: How Long Can a Dog Survive After Having Heatstroke?

A: If swift attention and treatment are taken, many affected dogs live out the rest of their natural lives with no permanent damage. However, if their temperatures were too high for too long, they may die (typically within 24 hours) or sustain damage to their brains, kidneys, or other organs.

3. Q: What Are the Three Stages of Heatstroke?

A: 1) Heat stress; 2) heat exhaustion; and 3) heatstroke (the symptoms are generally more severe with each stage that passes).

4. Q: Is the Dog Owner Typically Held Responsible for Their Dog’s Heatstroke?

A: Yes. It is the owner’s responsibility to make sure that their pups are not left in hot cars or left outdoors for prolonged periods of time without cool water and adequate shade.

5. Q: Can Things Like Muzzles Put My Dog at Risk of Heatstroke?

A: Yes. These devices make it harder or prevent dogs from opening their mouths wide enough to pant and thus cool themselves off naturally. Owners who need to use muzzles to protect their dogs and other people should be particularly cautious about the amount of time the pup is outside or exercising.

6. Q: How Will I Know If My Dog Has Sufficiently Cooled Down After Getting Overheated?

A: By taking a rectal temperature. If the result is 103 or lower, that is considered safe. Although, you should still seek veterinary care and advice.

7. Q: What Are Some Other Considerations When Talking About Heatstroke?

A: It can come on quick and without much warning. And in more severe cases, your dog may need to be kept overnight and monitored by a professional. As such, it’s important to at least think about keeping pet insurance to help you pay for those extended stays at the vet.

Our Pewaukee, WI, Vets Are Here If Your Dog is Showing Signs of Heatstroke

Heatstroke can be fatal, and it’s important to know the signs of dog heatstroke, and when to bring your pet to an urgent care animal hospital.

If your dog is showing signs of heatstroke, please reach out to our Pewaukee, WI, veterinarians right away by calling our animal hospital at (262) 347-0787.

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Since 1977, Pewaukee Veterinary Services has provided progressive veterinary medicine to pets of Pewaukee and the greater Milwaukee area. We put a strong emphasis on preventive medicine and alternative therapies aimed at keeping companion animals healthy and happy. Yet, if your pet is ill, there’s no better place to entrust their care. Our animal hospital in Pewaukee not only has the most advanced veterinary equipment in the area, but also the skilled veterinarians and staff to use it.