What are the signs of overheating in pets?

November 27, 2023

As the mercury rises, it’s not just humans who feel the heat. Our four-legged friends also suffer under the scorching sun and high temperatures. Overheating, also known as hyperthermia, can be a serious health hazard for pets, such as dogs. It’s crucial to recognize the signs of overheating in your pet and take immediate action to keep them cool and hydrated.

However, it’s not always easy to tell if your dog is experiencing heatstroke or merely feeling the effects of a hot day. In this article, we’ll dive into the various signs of overheating in pets, especially dogs, how to help them cool down, and tips to prevent dehydration and heatstroke.

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Recognizing the signs of overheating

It’s crucial to understand the signs of overheating in dogs. Dogs don’t sweat like humans, so panting is their primary means of cooling off. However, excessive panting can indicate that your pet is struggling to regulate their body temperature.

Excessive panting is often the first sign of overheating. If your dog is panting heavily and can’t seem to catch their breath, it’s a sign to take immediate action. Other signs include a bright red tongue, increased heart rate, and drooling.

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Disorientation can occur in pets suffering from severe overheating. They might have trouble walking, appear dizzy or lethargic, and may even collapse. More severe symptoms can include seizures and loss of consciousness.

Addressing Dehydration in Pets

Dehydration is a dangerous consequence of overheating, and it can lead to severe complications if not addressed immediately.

Dry or tacky gums are a strong indicator of dehydration in dogs. This is because, when a dog is properly hydrated, its gums should be slick and moist. If your pet is overheated, they will likely also exhibit signs of thirst, such as lapping water excessively or showing an increased interest in water sources.

Sunken eyes is another sign of serious dehydration in dogs. If your pet’s eyes look dull or sunken, it could mean they’re severely dehydrated and require immediate veterinary attention.

Responding to Heatstroke

Heatstroke is a severe form of overheating and requires immediate action. If you notice signs of heatstroke in your pet, it’s crucial to move them into a cooler environment and contact a veterinarian immediately.

Rapid heartbeat and excessive drooling are common symptoms of heatstroke in dogs. They might also display signs of discomfort, like restlessness or pacing.

Dark or bloody stool can be a symptom of heatstroke in dogs, indicating internal damage. Similarly, vomiting, diarrhea, and a lack of coordination are also signs of a possible heatstroke.

Cooling Down your Pet

When you notice signs of overheating in your pet, the first thing you should do is to move them to a cooler environment.

You can help your pet cool down by offering them cool, not cold, water to drink. Douse a towel in tepid water and gently apply it to your pet’s body. However, avoid immersing your pet in cold water, as this can lead to shock.

Fans and air conditioning are excellent tools for cooling down an overheated pet. Ensure your pet has access to shade if they’re outdoors and consider bringing them inside if it’s extremely hot out.

Preventing Overheating in Pets

Prevention is always better than cure. There are several steps you can take to help prevent your pet from overheating.

Avoid taking your pet out during the hottest parts of the day. Early morning and late evening walks are best during the summer months. Provide plenty of fresh, cool water for your pet to drink throughout the day.

Proper grooming can help prevent overheating, especially in long-haired dogs. However, never shave your dog without consulting a vet, as their coat can protect them from sunburn.

It’s crucial to recognize the signs of overheating in pets and take immediate action. By understanding the symptoms and knowing how to respond, you can help ensure your pet stays cool and comfortable, even on the hottest of days.

Assessing Heat Exhaustion in Dogs

Heat exhaustion is a dangerous condition that occurs when a dog’s body temperature rises significantly higher than the regular body temperature of around 101.5°F. This can happen when a dog is exposed to high temperatures for prolonged periods and their body can’t cool itself down effectively.

Excessive panting is typically the first sign of heat exhaustion in dogs. A dog’s panting will become more rapid and intense as they struggle to cool down. Excessive drooling may also occur as saliva production increases in an attempt to cool down the dog’s body. Their tongue and gums may turn a bright or dark red color, indicating that their body is working hard to cool down.

Another crucial sign of heat exhaustion in dogs is a change in behavior. Your dog may become lethargic, disoriented, or even collapse. They may show signs of distress or discomfort, like pacing or restlessness. Dogs suffering from heat exhaustion may also have a rapid pulse and shallow breathing.

Brachycephalic dogs, or dogs with short noses, such as Pugs and Bulldogs, are particularly susceptible to heat exhaustion due to their facial structure. Their short noses make it harder for them to pant effectively, making it more difficult for them to cool down in hot weather.

Keeping Your Dog Cool in Hot Weather

In hot weather, it’s crucial to keep your dog cool to prevent overheating and heat stroke. There are several techniques you can use to do this.

Firstly, ensure that your dog has access to plenty of cool water to help them stay hydrated. This is especially important if they’re panting excessively, as panting can lead to dehydration.

Creating a cool environment for your dog is also essential. Keep your dog in the shade or in an air-conditioned environment during the hottest parts of the day. A cooling mat or a cool towel can also help your dog regulate their body temperature.

Avoid exercising your dog during the hottest parts of the day. Instead, opt for early morning or late evening walks when the weather is cooler. If you must take your dog out in the heat, be sure to bring water for both of you and take frequent breaks in the shade.


As pet owners, we must recognize the signs of overheating in dogs and take appropriate actions to prevent heat exhaustion and heatstroke. This includes providing a cool environment, plenty of water, and avoiding intense activity during the hottest parts of the day. Brachycephalic dogs require special attention due to their increased vulnerability to heat-related issues.

By knowing the signs of overheating and how to keep your dog cool, you can ensure that your four-legged friend stays safe and comfortable, even on the hottest of days. Remember, prevention is always better than cure. If you suspect your dog is suffering from heat stroke or heat exhaustion, seek veterinary attention immediately.

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