How Can Heatstroke Affect Dogs?

Just like with humans, dogs too are at risk of suffering from heatstroke. This is an illness associated with extreme heat when a dog’s body temperature rises beyond 40 degrees centigrade. Heat illness differs from fever, which also causes a rise in body temperature.

Unlike with human beings who can tolerate heatstroke for a reasonable time, dogs suffering from heatstroke only have minutes before they sustain serious damage to their brain, liver, heart and nervous system. Dogs that do not receive immediate attention and care actually die. This is because they have limited avenues through which they can expel excess heat from the body.

Symptoms of Heatstroke

Dogs suffering from heatstroke normally exhibit such symptoms as excessive thirst, heavy panting, glazing eyes, general body weakness, increased heartbeat, bright/red tongue/gums, seizures, excessive drooling and unconsciousness. In some cases, affected dogs vomit and expel bloody diarrhea.


Causes of heatstroke in dogs are similar to human beings. Dogs mostly suffer heatstroke in summer when the weather is hot. This is not the time to expose dogs to direct sunshine for a long time. In case of exercise, such should be restricted to morning or late evening hours. This is also not the time to leave dogs in restricted areas without adequate ventilation, such as in cars. Many dogs have suffered heatstroke while locked up in cars on hot days. Even when dog owners crack the window, then inside of the car can get incredibly hot, causing a heatstroke.

Dogs at Risk

Although all dogs are susceptible to heatstroke, there are categories of dogs that stand a higher risk of suffering from the same than others. These are puppies, old dogs, dogs used to cold climate regions and sick dogs suffering from chronic diseases such as heart disease.


Dogs suffering from heatstroke need immediate care and attention so as to prevent damage to body organs and possible instant death. Such dogs should be removed immediately from a hot/warm environment to a cool spot. Cool water should be provided and the dog allowed to drink small amounts of water. Drinking in large volume can easily cause vomiting, which increases the risk of dehydration. Water should also be sprayed on the body. A veterinarian should be called in immediately in case a dog falls into unconsciousness or experiences seizures.


Heatstroke in dogs is a serious health problem that can lead to instant death. Prevention is therefore the only way of dealing with the illness. This is because even if a dog recovers, damage to certain body organs may be inevitable.
The fact that dogs dehydrate very fast in hot weather requires that plenty of fresh drinking water is provided at all times. Dogs that get exposed most of the time need to be sprayed with water on a regular basis to help them hydrate. If possible dogs should be restricted to areas with adequate shade. Be sure that your dog has a dog cage to avoid the direct sun and do not leave your dog in the vehicle on hot days.