Would you know if your pet was having a heatstroke?

What to do if your pet is suffering from heat exposure
Updated: Jun. 21, 2019 at 1:55 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - When the heat becomes dangerous, it’s easy to forget that a member of your family could be suffering silently.

Pets cannot tell you when they are experiencing signs of heat exposure, so it’s important for you to know the symptoms. They include:

  • Heavy panting
  • Glazed eyes
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Excessive thirst
  • Lethargy
  • Fever (a dog’s temperature should not be allowed to get over 104º)
  • Dizziness
  • Lack of coordination
  • Profuse salivation
  • Vomiting
  • A deep red or purple tongue
  • Seizure
  • Unconsciousness

The first thing you should do if your pet is displaying symptoms of heat exposure is to move your pet to the shade or an air-conditioned area. Apply ice packs or a cold towel to your pets head, neck, and chest. Make sure the water is cool, not cold.

Let your pet drink small amounts of cool water or lick ice cubes.

You should take your pet to a veterinarian if you believe your pet experienced a heatstroke. That’s because your pet could suffer from some continued health issues, such as abnormal heart rhythms, kidney failure, neurological problems and respiratory arrest.

Some dogs are predisposed to heatstroke. That includes, but is not limited to, dogs with short snouts. An animal that has suffered previously from a heatstroke is more likely to suffer from another one in the future.


  • Pets sweat primarily through their feet, so make sure their feet are protected from the excessively hot concrete or pavement. Try to make sure they walk on grass or other cooler pathways. Test the ground by placing the back of your hand on the ground for 5 seconds. If it’s too hot for you, it’s too hot for your pet.
  • Limit exercise on hot days to early morning or evening hours.
  • A doghouse does not provide relief from the heat. In fact, it makes things worse because it traps the air. You want to make sure your pet has shade that is well ventilated. Tree shade, a porch, or tarp are the ideal forms of outdoor shade.
  • During hot days, add ice to your pets’ water when possible.
  • Peanut butter popsicles are a tasty way to cool your pet from the inside out, but make sure to limit them because you don’t want to overfeed your pet.

Information provided by the Humane Society of the United States and the Red Cross.

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