Heat: Heatstroke

Dogs eliminate heat through panting; however if the temperature of the environment is too hot and humid then panting becomes ineffective.

Normal body temperature is around 38.5C/101.4F. In cases of heat-stroke a dog's body temperature can rise in excess of 41.6C/107F. Increased muscular effort displayed during excessive panting can also cause a rise in body temperature.

Signs of heat-stroke:

  • Panting excessively
  • Anxious behaviour
  • Very red gums turning blue in extreme circumstances
  • Salivating
  • Very rapid heart rate
  • In cases of severe heat-stroke - collapse, convulsions, shock

What to do if your dog is suffering with heat-stroke:

  • Seek veterinary attention immediately as it can be difficult to be sure how serious the situation is and urgent treatment may be needed.
  • Remove the dog from the hot environment
  • Reduce body temperature immediately 
  • Immerse the dog in tepid water, cooling gradually, using either a shower spray or similar.  Then douse the dog in cool water, particularly the head and neck - avoid using ice-cold water; or cover your dog with wet sheets.  Use a fan to increase air flow over the dog as this aids cooling.
  • Allow the dog to drink as much water as he wants in small quantities at a time (if possible add a pinch of salt to the water)
  • Continue to douse the dog in cold water until his breathing starts to settle  
  • Seek veterinary attention as soon as is safe to do so

Please note

  • If using a fan to cool your dog be careful of electric wires. 
  • Do not throw cold water over your dog!

If a dog's temperature is not reduced immediately, heat-stroke can be fatal.

Related Information

Donate Now

Search within the A-Z

Search our A-Z here.

Did you know?

  • Dogs' nose prints are as unique as humans' finger prints and can be used to accurately identify them.

Ask a question

Need further advice or information then ask us a question.