How to Recognize and Prevent Heatstroke in Dogs

laurelwood, animal hospital, portland

Article by Dr. Michael Dym, VMD | Found on PetMeds.com

It’s no surprise that it’s getting warmer. And unfortunately, each summer many pets die needlessly from exposure to heat. Heatstroke is a medical emergency that needs veterinary attention as quickly as possible.

Signs of heat stroke include:

  • Excessive panting
  • Bright red gums and ear tips
  • Seizuring and collapse (in extreme circumstances)

Unfortunately, dogs and cats don’t sweat like people do. They typically pant, in order to dispel heat, making them much more prone to the effects of hot summer weather. Even before getting your pet to the veterinarian it is important for pet parents to begin treatment at home by putting the pet in a tub of cool water, or applying wet towels or icepacks to the body.

On the way to the veterinarian keep the air conditioner on high and continue to apply ice packs to the pet’s body. Some natural remedies that can be tried to help lessen the severity of heat stroke include homeopathic belladona which can be given in strength of 30c potency every 15 minutes. I have seen this remedy quickly bring pets out of heat stroke. Bach flower essences such as Rescue Remedy or Be Serene can also be helpful in calming stressed pets.

Tips to prevent heat exhaustion

  • Never leave your pet in a hot car, even with the windows down
  • Encourage your pets to drink plenty of water & offer ice cubes or chips. Pet drinking fountains are a great way to encourage more water drinking
  • Only walk your pet in the early morning or evening hours. Consider bringing along a portable water container such as Snack-Duo with Companion Cup
  • Walk your pet in grass, not on hot pavement
  • Bring outdoor pets inside during peak sun hours

It’s important to be aware of the signs of heat stroke so you know what to look for. Most pets enjoy running and playing in the summer sun, and may suffer from heat exhaustion as a result.

Of course pet owners should never leave a pet in a locked car for even a few minutes as temperatures can quickly rise to over 120 degrees, even with the windows left open. In times of extreme heat, it is best to bring pets that spend most of their time outdoors, inside as even shaded area temperatures can still be quite elevated.


Laurelwood Animal Hospital, located near Jesuit High School on Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway offers a full range of companion animal services, including surgery, nutrition and behavior counseling, parasite control and preventative medicine. The hospital also offers advanced imaging through an all-digital spiral CT scanner, a comprehensive dental program and laser treatment.

If you’re looking for quality, compassionate veterinary care in Beaverton, Oregon, come visit us at Laurelwood Animal Hospital.

Laurelwood Animal Hospital

9315 SW Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway
Beaverton, Oregon 97005

Phone: (971) 244-4230
Fax: (503) 292-6808

E-mail: info@laurelwoodvets.com