Risks and Tips to Avoid Heat Stroke

Heat Stroke and Heat Exhaustion in Dogs

This probably isn’t a secret by now – but it’s hot outside.

And this time of the year, it’s really hot.

Because it’s summer, we feel the need to be outdoors and making sure that our pets can also experience the warmer months. The dog park. A bike ride. Maybe even the beach. Your dog loves being outside just like you do, but in extreme heat, it can be dangerous and there are precautions needed.

Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke in Dogs

Dogs are susceptible to heat exhaustion, which occurs after prolonged activity in a hot environment without proper hydration. Just like humans, when a dog’s body loses its ability to cool itself, heat exhaustion can take over. What should you look for in your dog? Common signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion include nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, and rapid panting. Keep an eye on your dog in the heat and make sure they’re properly hydrated, and give them plenty of time in the shade whenever possible.

If heat exhaustion progresses, it can result in heat stroke. This is a serious medical condition that needs immediate attention. A dog’s normal body temperature ranges from 100-102.5 degrees Fahrenheit, and if the body temperature reaches 106 degrees or above, this is a life-threatening medical emergency and calls for immediate veterinary care.

All pets are at risk, but there are dogs with certain conditions (and some breeds) that are more susceptible. Older dogs, or those that have been diagnosed with heart disease, obesity, or breathing conditions are at higher risk, as are flat-faced breeds like bulldogs and pugs. 

Here are some tips from the UA Veterinary Hospital team to help protect your pet during the hot summer months:

  • Restrict vigorous exercise in high temperatures, keep walks short and let your dog set their own pace (rather than pushing them into trotting or running). 
  • Do not shave down to the skin; ideally, dogs need one inch of fur protection to prevent sunburn.
  • Keep your dogs off hot surfaces like asphalt, as this can result in burns on their paw pads. And with their body so close to the ground, they can heat up quickly. 
  • Keep fresh water available all the time! If your dog is kept outdoors, shade should also be provided. Many dogs also enjoy playing in water, so on hot days, take advantage of local dog parks that have ponds–or just get a wading pool or a sprinkler out for them.
  • On excessively hot days, leave your dog at home. And, of course, never leave them in a hot parked car. 


And, there are many fun ways to keep your dog cool and hydrated during summer. Our favorites? Taking our dog through Starbucks for a puppichino, or over to Dairy Queen for a pup cup. You can also make a visit to the local pet store to spend some in the A/C, and maybe see some other pet friends along the way!