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Posted on 06-22-2015

Pawsitively Helpful Pet Tips

with DR. DEB

"Heatstroke in Dogs"


A dog's normal body temperature from 99.5 to 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit.  A dog with moderate heatstroke (body temperature from 104 to 106 degrees Fahrenheit) can recover within an hour if given prompt first aid and veterinary care.  Severe heatstroke (body temperature over 106 degrees Fahrenheit) can be deadly and immediate veterinary assistance is needed.


  • Rapid panting
  • Bright red tongue
  • Red or pale gums
  • Thick, sticky gums
  • Depression
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Vomiting-- sometimes with blood
  • Diarrhea
  • Shock
  • Coma


Remove the dog from the hot area immediately.  Prior to taking him/her to your veterinarian, lower his temperature by wetting him thoroughly.  One effective method  is to drape wet towels over the dog-- soak the towels in cool to room temperature water for larger dogs and lukewarm water for smaller dogs.  If available, directing a fan to circulate air onto the towel covered dog will provide evaporative cooling.  CAUTION: Using very cool water can actually be counterproductive.  Cooling too quickly and especially allowing his body temperature to become too low can cause other life-threatening medical conditions.  The dog's rectal temperature should be checked every 5 minutes.  Once the body temperature is 103 degrees Fahrenheit, the cooling measures should be stopped and the dog should be dried thoroughly and covered so he/she doesn't lose heat.  Even if the dog appears to be recovering, take him to your veterinarian as soon as possible.  He/she should still be examined since he/she may be dehydrated or have other complications.

Allow free access to water, a sport drink or a children's rehydrating solution if the dog can drink on its own.  Do not try to force-feed cold water; the dog may inhale it or choke.


Your veterinarian will lower your dog's body temperature to a safe range (if you have not already) and continually monitor its temperature.  Your dog will be given IV fluids, and possibly oxygen.  He will be monitored for shock, respiratory distress, kidney failure, heart abnormalities, and other complications, and treated accordingly.  Blood samples are often taken to evaluate organ functions and electrolytes, as well as monitoring clotting time of the blood.


Dogs with moderate heatstroke that receive proper care often recover without complicating health problems .  Severe heatstroke can cause ongoing medical concerns if organs have been damaged.  Dogs who suffer from heatstroke once increase their risk for getting  it again and steps must be taken to prevent it on hot, humid days.

Thanks to the AVMA, ASPCA and Dr. Foster and Smith for the above information

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