Signs of Heat Exhaustion in Dogs

Signs of Heat Exhaustion in Dogs

Just like people, pets can get overheated when the noontime sun beats down or they over-exert themselves, especially in hot conditions.

Unfortunately, our furry friends don’t have the same innate ability to cool themselves as humans.

While we start to sweat like the dickens when we get too hot, our pooches must pant in an effort to regulate body temperature, and this only goes so far to cool them down.

A temperature of about 103° Fahrenheit is considered relatively normal for a dog, but it doesn’t take much to veer into heat exhaustion territory.

When your pup’s temperature reaches 106° F or higher, he could be heading for heat stroke, which could cause organ failure and even death without immediate treatment.

Naturally, you want to avoid this turn of events and keep your best friend healthy and happy.

This begins by understanding the signs of heat exhaustion in dogs and knowing what to do when you spot them.

Common Signs of Heat Exhaustion in Dogs

It’s not uncommon to see your dog panting when the temperature is warm, but when heat exhaustion begins to set in, you’ll start to notice excessive panting, perhaps accompanied by excessive drooling.

Your dog may also become lethargic or less responsive to your call or commands.

He might seem dizzy and his eyes could glaze over.

He may not come when you call him, or worse, he may seem confused and wander as if he hasn’t heard you at all.

These are early warning signs of heat exhaustion.

If you don’t get your dog cooled down, more severe symptoms will follow.

Rapid heart rate, fever, and loss of consciousness may occur.  He might have vomiting or diarrhea and his tongue could change color, turning bluish or bright red.

He could collapse and even begin to experience convulsions.  These serious symptoms should not be taken lightly.

You can always confirm by checking your pup’s temperature with a rectal thermometer.

If it’s between 103° F and 106° F, he could be suffering heat exhaustion.  If it’s over 106° F, he’s in danger of heat stroke.

What to Do if You Suspect Heat Exhaustion

The best thing to do is prevent heat exhaustion in the first place, but this isn’t always possible.

If you recognize signs of heat exhaustion in dogs, you need to act quickly to help your dog cool down, including removing him from hot and/or humid conditions immediately and getting him indoors, under the AC or in front of a fan.

Take his temperature to see if he could be suffering heat exhaustion or if heat stroke is possible.

Faster cooling can be achieved with water.

If you have a nearby body of water like a pond or a pool and your dog likes to swim, get him into the water, keeping a close eye on him, especially if he seems impaired by lethargy, dizziness, or similar symptoms.

If you don’t have a body of water handy, use cool, wet compresses to bring down his temperature.

Pay special attention to his neck and armpits, as well as ears and paws.  You don’t need to drench him.

Ideally, your dog should lap up some cool water, but if he doesn’t seem interested, don’t force him.

You could try dribbling a bit of cool water on his tongue, but avoid ice cubes.

If he’s vomiting after drinking water, call your vet for further instructions.

If your efforts don’t seem to be helping or your pooch has a temperature over 106° F, you’ll want to err on the side of caution and get him to the vet as quickly as possible.

Breeds Prone to Heat Exhaustion

All dogs could be susceptible to heat exhaustion under the right circumstances, but certain breeds are more vulnerable than others.

As you might expect, a thick coat of fur or longer hair could cause your dog to overheat more easily.  You wouldn’t wear a fur coat out in the summer, so imagine how your pooch feels.

Brachycephalic breeds like boxers, bulldogs, pugs, and shih tzus (adorable smush-faces) are also more likely to suffer heat exhaustion because they are less effective at dispelling heat through panting.

You’ll also want to keep an eye on young pups and older dogs, overweight pooches, extremely active breeds that are likely to wear themselves out, and dogs that have medical conditions like heart problems.


We know your dog is a cherished member of your family, so our entire team shares a commitment to provide the best, most compassionate veterinary care for your dog. We offer a variety of dog services to in the Pflugerville/Austin-Round Rock, TX area including vaccinesdental careweight managementsenior care, and more. Call (512) 251-BARK today to learn more!