1. Home
  2. Blog
  3. Dog Enrichment
  4. How to Prevent and Treat Heat Stroke in Your Dog

How to Prevent and Treat Heat Stroke in Your Dog

Haley photo


July 21, 2023

Dog Enrichment

How to Prevent and Treat Heat Stroke in Your Dog thumbnail

* All Sniffspot articles are reviewed by certified trainers for quality, please see bottom of article for details *

Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are unfortunately common in the summer months, especially in adventure dogs who love to get out hiking, biking, running, or visiting favorite Sniffspots with you.

The warm weather doesn’t have to be a source of fear, though. Here’s what you need to know about heat stroke in dogs: what it is, what causes it, and how you can prevent your pup from suffering.

Definition: What is heat stroke?

Heat stroke, a more severe form of heat exhaustion, is a potentially life-threatening condition that occurs in dogs when their body temperature rises to dangerously high levels.

Dogs are more susceptible to heat stroke than humans because they can’t cool themselves as effectively. They have a limited ability to sweat — they do so mainly through their paw pads — and primarily regulate their body temperature through panting.

Symptoms: What are the signs of heat stroke in dogs?

The signs of heat stroke can be subtle initially — but the condition can rapidly escalate to life-threatening status. Common symptoms of heat stroke in dogs include:

Excessive panting

Dogs regulate their body temperature through panting. If you notice your dog panting excessively, especially in hot weather or during physical activity, it may be a sign of heat-related distress.


Heat-stressed dogs may drool more than usual.

Bright red gums and tongue

The dog's gums and tongue may appear bright red, indicating increased blood flow and possible heat stress.

Rapid or labored breathing

Heat-stressed dogs may exhibit rapid, shallow, or labored breathing as their bodies try to cool down.

Weakness and collapse

Dogs experiencing heat stroke may become weak, wobbly, or collapse due to heat exhaustion.

Vomiting and diarrhea

Heat-stressed dogs may vomit or have diarrhea.

Elevated heart rate

An increased heart rate is a common symptom of heat stroke as the body tries to pump blood and circulate it more effectively.

Seizures or tremors

In severe cases, heat stroke can lead to seizures or trembling.

Unresponsiveness or disorientation

Dogs may become disoriented or unresponsive, showing signs of confusion and inability to walk properly.

Causes: What causes heat stroke in dogs?

Heat stroke can be caused by exposure to high temperatures, especially if the air is also humid (this makes it harder for your dog to regulate their body temperature through panting). It’s especially likely in hot weather when a dog is in an environment with limited ventilation.

Heat stroke is more likely to occur in brachycephalic breeds (e.g., Bulldogs, Pugs, and Boxers) as they have difficulty panting efficiently.

Common factors that can lead to heat stroke in dogs include:

  • High environmental temperatures: Leaving a dog in a parked car on a hot day, even with windows cracked, can quickly lead to heat stroke.
  • Excessive exercise: Overexertion or prolonged exercise in hot weather, especially without access to water and shade, can lead to heat stroke.
  • Lack of shade and water: If a dog is exposed to direct sunlight and does not have access to water and shade, they are at increased risk.

Prevention: How can you prevent your dog from getting heat stroke?

Here are some tips to help you keep your dog safe and prevent heat stroke on your warm-weather adventures.

Provide ample fresh water

Ensure your dog always has access to fresh, clean water, especially during hot weather — but even if you’re hiking in the shade or with a breeze, too. (Sometimes heat stroke is more common on days owners think are cool but that are still warm enough to affect our pets.) Hydration is crucial to help your canine companion regulate their body temperature.

Offer shade

Create a shaded area for your dog to rest in when outdoors. Avoid leaving them in direct sunlight for extended periods. Be mindful of how the sun changes position throughout the day!

Avoid hot pavement

On hot days, avoid walking your dog on hot pavement or surfaces. These can burn their paw pads and expose them to a higher concentration of warm air immediately above the asphalt.

Limit exercise in hot weather

Avoid vigorous exercise during peak temperatures. Instead, schedule walks and playtime during cooler parts of the day, such as early morning or late evening.

Never leave your dog in a parked car

Even with the windows cracked, a parked car can quickly become dangerously hot.

Avoid overexertion

Be mindful of your dog's energy levels and avoid pushing them too hard during play or exercise, especially in hot weather.

Watch your dog closely

Keep an eye on your dog for any signs of heat-related distress, such as excessive panting, drooling, or weakness, and take immediate action if you notice any concerning symptoms.

Treatment: How can you treat heat stroke in dogs?

If you suspect that your dog is suffering from heat stroke, take immediate action to cool them down — and seek emergency veterinary care.

Cool your dog down

  • Move your dog to a shaded or cool area
  • Apply cool (not ice-cold) water to their body, particularly around the neck, head, and paw pads,
  • Encourage them to drink small amounts of water if possible

Why not ice-cold water or ice packs? These can constrict blood vessels and actually hinder the cooling process.

Seek veterinary care

Heat stroke can be a life-threatening emergency. Prompt veterinary attention is crucial!

Even if a dog appears to recover from heat stroke, internal damage may have occurred — so it's essential to have them examined by a veterinarian to ensure they’re okay.

Prevent heat stroke in the future

Prevention is the best approach. As mentioned above, avoid exposing your dog to high temperatures without proper shade, ventilation, and access to water. Be especially cautious during hot weather — and never leave your dog in a parked car, even for a short period.

Haley photo


July 21, 2023

Dog Enrichment

About Sniffspot

Sniffspot is a community marketplace that enables anyone to rent land by-the-hour as a safe and private dog park.

Follow us

Find Sniffspot on your favorite social media

Related articles
What to Do if a Spider Bites Your Dog thumbnail

What to Do if a Spider Bites Your Dog

The Best Dog Trainers in Texas of 2023 thumbnail

The Best Dog Trainers in Texas of 2023

The Best Dog Trainers in Virginia of 2023 thumbnail

The Best Dog Trainers in Virginia of 2023

All categories