Dog Tips

Dog Heat Stroke: What to Know

The world has now marked one full year of back-to-back monthly heat records, the European Union's Copernicus Climate Change Service announced on Wednesday. It said last month was the hottest May in recorded history — the 12th consecutive month in which the monthly high-temperature record was broken. (1)

We humans are not the only ones facing the grunt of this. Our canine buddies get affected too. This may not be the only reason, but it has surely increased the number of heat strokes in dogs though. 

A heat stroke in dogs occurs when their body temperature crosses 106oF. Excessive exposure to environmental heat is one of the leading causes of this. If this level crosses 107oF, you may start seeing organ failure and eventually death. Being such a severe medical condition in dogs, we need to learn the causes, signs and treatments for it. 

Heat Exhaustion in Dogs

Heat exhaustion in dogs is usually when the effects of overheating are moderate. It starts with heat stress when the signs are the mildest. Prolonged effects can cause heat exhaustion and then heat stroke. It usually starts because of a combination of reasons like high temperatures outside, excess physical exercise and/or underlying medical conditions. 

  • Excessive physical training

If your dog ends up spending a lot of time outdoors doing physical exercise, especially if it is not used to prolonged hours outdoors, it can lead to heat stress. Some dog breeds like Labs, golden retrievers, springer spaniels, and pit bulls tend to push themselves harder than their capacity to please their owners. 

  • Breed

Certain dog breeds are more prone to heating than others because of their size and composition. Brachycephalic breeds, like French bulldogs, Pugs, English bulldogs, Pekingese, etc. for example, face challenges while panting because of their short muzzles and smushed faces. This may make cooling down difficult, causing heat stress for them in case of excessive workouts and outdoor time when the temperatures are high.

  • Medical Conditions

Dogs with breathing issues face the same challenges as Brachycephalic breeds. Obese dogs also find it difficult to cool themselves off in case of an increased body temperature. 

  • Age

Very young pups and elder dogs find it difficult to regulate their body temperatures as well. 

  • Hot climate/environment

This can be a dog trapped in a car or taken outdoors for a long time without frequent breaks in the shade. Dogs that are being transported in aeroplane cargo also go through this. 

  • Coat type

While dogs with a thick double coat can endure cold temperatures better, it becomes the exact opposite when they must face hot temperatures. This increases the chances of a heat stroke in such breeds.

Signs of Overheating in Dogs

It can be difficult to determine overheating in dogs at times as the signs as usually subtle in the beginning. Thus, you should be closely looking for the following signs to diagnose overheating in your dog at a stage where it’s far from a heat stroke. 

  • Heavy panting

  • Restlessness

  • Frequent stopping and laying down during a walk

  • Excessive water drinking

  • Labored breathing

  • Excessive drooling

  • Vomiting

  • Diarrhea

Your dog might even collapse if the body has gotten too exhausted from the heat. It is hence important to know the immediate to-dos when you see any of the above signs in your dog. 

Heat Stroke Treatment in Dogs

Irrespective of whether you diagnose your dog’s overheating at a heat stress, hyperthermia or heat stroke phase, it is important to seek vet help at the earliest. A safe and controlled reduction of the dog’s body temperature is crucial. What you could do at home if you notice such signs is – (2)

  • Pour some cool water on your dog’s head, stomach, armpits and feet. Do not use cold water or ice.

  • Rub your pup with a damp cloth and point a fan towards them. 

  • Offer a bowl of water to drink. Again, avoid cold water. And do not force the dog to drink the water. 

These measures should help bringing the temperature of the dog’s body down. However, you may want to seek professional help in case there is an underlying medical condition causing this. The vet may use other rehydration measures and supporting care including IV fluids, oxygen support, etc. He/she may also use some protective measures for the kidneys, brain, liver and/or the digestive tract.

More About Spot Pet Insurance

Dogs with a higher temperature for a longer time can get into serious trouble. It can even be fatal in some cases. Mild cases of overheating can also lead to diarrhea with blood in it. The dog may experience seizures, blood clotting, etc. in some cases. While we may not able to bring down the atmospheric temperature down, we can be financially prepared to offer the best and immediate treatment to our lovely canine buddies. With pet health insurance, you can save up to 90% of the treatment costs. 

Spot accident and illness plans can be used with any licensed vet in Canada or the U.S. Whether you are home, or traveling to the U.S., veterinary services your pet receives for the diagnosis, treatment, or management of covered conditions can be eligible for reimbursement. Spot’s accident and illness plans can help cover a variety of conditions including; broken bones, lacerations, aggression, kidney disease, diabetes, and more. With the addition of Wellness Riders for an extra cost, you can also receive reimbursements for wellness exams, certain vaccinations, dental cleanings, and more. 

Learn more about dog insurance or get a free quote. 


  1. Cohen, L. (2024, June 6). World hits 12 straight months of record-high temperatures — but as warming continues, it’ll be “remembered as comparatively cold.” CBS News.

  2. Heat stroke in dogs | VCA Animal Hospital | VCA Animal Hospitals. (n.d.). Vca.

  3. Fox, A. (2023, May 19). Heat exhaustion in dogs. The Spruce Pets.

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