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How to Keep Your Dog Safe from Heat Stroke

by VitaPaws

Every year veterinary practitioners see thousands of cases of heat stroke in dogs. Heat stroke is very serious and can be fatal, but the good news is that in the vast majority of cases it is preventable. Given we are approaching the height of summer here in the UK, the VitaPaws team thought there would be no better time to write this article. Here, you will discover what heat stroke is, how it comes about and what can be done to prevent it. 

What is Heat Stroke?

Heat stroke is a condition that occurs when body temperature becomes too high and the body cannot combat this through natural mechanisms such as sweating. It is important to note that dogs do not tolerate high temperatures as well as humans. Humans have sweat glands all over the body, whereas dogs only have them around their feet and nose, meaning they are much less efficient at keeping themselves cool. Dogs mostly rely on panting to keep themselves cool and it’s seen as their primary thermoregulation mechanism. 

How to Safeguard Your Dog from Heat Stroke

There are a number of ways that you can protect your dog from heat stroke. Many of these are common-sense, but they are important to consider on hot days nevertheless:

Dogs that are obese or have flat noses are most at risk of suffering from heat stroke as they have a harder time regulating their body temperatures. There are also certain health conditions that a dog can have which can impact thermoregulation. Because of this, owners need to be wary of their dog’s needs and pay special attention to them when the weather is hot. 

Signs of Heat Stroke in Dogs 

There are a number of key signs that indicate that a dog may be suffering from heat stroke. Dog’s with heat stroke need to be treated as quick as possible, so spotting the issue early is crucial. Here are 12 common signs of heat stroke in dogs:

What Should I Do If My Dog Gets Too Hot?

If you notice your dog has one or more of the above symptoms it is important to act fast, as they can deteriorate rapidly. First things first, you should call your vet immediately as heat stroke requires professional attention. Not only will they be able to treat your dog, but they will also be able to give you advice on what to do while travelling to the vet. 

The vets are likely to advise you to bring your dog’s temperature down by spraying them with cool water and making sure they have access to a drink. The key word here is ‘cool’, as cold water can cause the blood vessels to constrict, meaning less blood is circulating to the skin and less heat is being dispersed. You could also submerge your pet in cool water, but make sure they keep their head above the water.  

Once you have done this take your pet into a cool part of the house which has good ventilation. If you have an electric fan, it would be beneficial to have this on. If not, you can fan your pet with a towel for example. If you have a thermometer, it is also advised that you take their temperature to ensure that it is coming down to a safe level. A healthy body temperature is between 38-39 degrees Celsius for most dogs. 

Depending on the severity of the heat stroke, your vet may need to monitor your dog closely during the following days. It is well-known though that if you spot the signs early and act quickly, there is a much lower risk of the condition becoming life-threatening. 


Here at Vitapaws, we know how much pleasure dogs can bring and how much fun can be had with them when the weather is nice. Hopefully this article has helped you to understand how to take good care of your dog when the weather gets hot and how to look for signs that they may be struggling with the heat.