Heatstroke In Dogs: Prevention, Early Signs & Treatment

Summer is a great time to take your pet out for a walk or a run, but as the temperature rises, so does the risk of heatstroke in dogs.

Heatstroke is a dangerous condition that can lead to multiple organ failure, seizures and even death if not treated promptly. However, by taking preventive measures and knowing the early signs of heatstroke, you can keep your dog safe and healthy in the hot Australian climate.

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dog suffering from heatstroke at the beach


Don’t wait for your dog to suffer heatstroke before thinking about its harmful effects. Start taking preventative measures now to protect your pet.

When the temperature rises, pavement and concrete can become scorching hot, which can burn your dog’s paws and make it difficult for them to regulate their body temperature. It’s best to walk your dog during the early morning or late evening hours when the temperature is cooler and the pavement is not as hot. If you must walk your dog during the day, consider walking on grass or dirt trails or using protective dog booties.

Leaving dogs in parked cars is one of the most common causes of heatstroke in dogs. Even with the windows cracked, the temperature inside a parked car can rise quickly, leading to heatstroke in a matter of minutes. Never leave your dog in a parked car, even for a short period. If you have to leave your dog in the car, ensure that someone stays in the car with the engine running and the air conditioning on.

Additional preventative tips include:

  • Ensure your dog always has access to fresh drinking water, and add ice cubes to keep the water cool.
  • Provide your dog with a cool, shaded area where they can rest and cool down, especially if they spend a lot of time outdoors.
  • Keep an eye on your dog’s activity level during hot weather.
  • Be aware of breed-specific risks for heatstroke, such as short-snouted breeds or dogs with thick coats, and take extra precautions to keep them safe during hot periods.
  • Consider using cooling vests, bandanas or mats to help regulate your dog’s body temperature.
  • Check your dog’s body temperature periodically during hotter periods to be aware of any changes.

How do I know if my dog has heat stroke?

Early signs of heatstroke in dogs include excessive panting, drooling, rapid heartbeat, vomiting, diarrhea and lethargy. If left untreated, the condition can escalate quickly, so if you notice any of these symptoms in your dog, move them to a cooler area and provide access to water. In more serious cases, seek veterinary care immediately.

How to treat heatstroke in dogs

If you suspect your dog is suffering from heatstroke, the first step is to move them to a cool, shaded area. You can also place wet towels or cool water over their body to help lower their body temperature. It’s important to give them access to water but not force them to drink.

Getting your dog to a veterinarian as soon as possible is crucial. Heatstroke can cause damage to multiple organs, including the brain, kidneys and liver. Your vet will be able to administer fluids and medications to help stabilise your dog’s body temperature and prevent any further danger.

Can a dog recover from heat stroke?

The good news is that with prompt treatment, many dogs can recover from heatstroke. However, the severity of the condition and the length of time that the dog was exposed to high temperatures can impact their recovery. In some cases, dogs may experience long-term damage to their organs or may be more susceptible to heatstroke in the future.

If you’re in Coffs Harbour, Woolgoolga or Nambucca Heads, contact the vets at Blue & White Veterinary Clinic as soon as possible, so we can care for your dog and help it recover from heatstroke in the most timely manner.