What to do for Heat Stroke in Dogs

August 2nd, 2023 at 10:21 am EDT

Did you know that heat stroke can happen in as little as 10 minutes? And it can be deadly.

The big point here is prevention: knowing that it can happen fast, being aware of the signs/symptoms of Heat Stroke, and recognizing when your dog is in distress and reacting appropriately.

There are some supplements which may help your pets better cope with heat, and one study in particular showed that the EPA/DHA Omega-3s with their anti-inflammatory effects, partially alleviated the effects of heat stress.

We have a wonderful Omega 3 supplement in the form of Krill Oil here:


Keeping Your Pet Safe in the Heat

Most of North America is HOT, so you really should be aware of how to keep your pet safe in the heat.

1. AVOID the car- never leave your pet in one. The temperature can rise to dangerous levels within 10 minutes- EVEN if the windows are open. In practice I have seen heatstroke develop in 15 minutes, especially with the brachycephalic breeds (pushed in faces).

2. Keep your pet hydrated and in the shade. Much the same as us, especially during the peak sun hours. Provide plenty of fresh cool water, and if you have air conditioning, get your pet in it.

3. AVOID strenuous exercise during the HOT sunny hours. Try and do your dog walking early morning or late at night. My old dog Lewis literally stopped moving in the heat!

4. STAY OFF the hot road- I have had dogs in the past with damaged paws from sun heated asphalt. If it is too hot for you to walk on it with bare feet, then it is TOO hot for your dog.

5. Offer frozen treats- I often freeze a Kong filled with peanut butter. I have made frozen yummy Ultimate Canine 'dogsicles' which my dogs LOVE.

6. There are specific products that you can get to keep your pet cool- such as long lasting KOOL vests, although I find plain old common sense is a BETTER way to go...if your dog gets too HOT offer cold water, shade, and air conditioning.

7. Signs of Heat Stroke:

The signs depend upon the extent of heat stroke. In the early stages, your pet will pant rapidly, have thick, ropey saliva, and have bright red gums. Their body temperature will be between 104-106°F.

As the body temperature climbs above 106°F, your pet will go into shock with subsequent organ shutdown.

They will have pale gums, be weak and dizzy, with vomiting and diarrhea. The brain becomes affected and they may seizure or fall into a coma. In this case, they require immediate, life-saving veterinary intervention.

The normal body temperature of a dog or cat ranges between 38 - 39°C or 103°F. Our pets maintain this temperature through panting, however sometimes they are unable to lose enough heat. Dogs and cats probably do suffer from heat cramps and heat exhaustion like us humans but the symptoms are mild and we don't recognize them. The condition that we see is heatstroke, and it may cause the death of a pet.

8. TO THE VET ASAP - if you suspect severe heatstroke and your pet has collapsed, get your pet immediate veterinary care. In this case, the organs may be shutting down and they need specialized care to survive. While in transit it is important to continue to apply cool wet towels to the back of the neck and groin area.

9. WHAT'S THE TEMP? Use a rectal thermometer and find your pet's exact temperature: if it is 104°F or higher, they have heatstroke, and you need to take action.

10. COOL DOWN. Run cold water over the back of your pet's head. Place cold packs wrapped in towels between the back legs, on the belly and in the armpits. Wet towels can be used instead. You can use a garden hose to run the water over the back of their head.

Heal Your Pet At Home!

Best Wishes,

Dr Andrew

P.S. Those 'dogsicles' I mentioned are VERY yummy according to my expert taster ( Pippi! )...

P.P.S. They would even be healthier, and potentially help your pet better cope with the heat if it included a good quality essential fatty acid.

The EFA's can potentially help your pet in so many ways, including helping cope with heat stress...

  • Improve your pet's Skin: Omega 3 Fatty Acids may help the signs and symptoms of allergic skin disease

  • Aid in normal brain / cognitive function: Help maintain brain health and resilience to degeneration

  • Support normal Liver and Kidney Function

  • Support and maintain your pet's musculoskeletal system: Anti-inflammatory properties can help reduce swelling in joints

  • May help improve movement and reduce pain

  • Relieve stress from anxiety & noise: May be a benefit for animals with diseases linked to anxiety, such as Separation Anxiety in Dogs, or FLUTD in Cats

  • Heart Health: Omega 3 supplements may help improve many heart disease risk factors

  • Maintain a normal functioning immune system: May help strengthen immune response in a weakened immune system, aid if immune system is overactive

Get Dr Jones' Ultimate Omega 3 Supplement here:


DISCLAIMER: This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your own veterinarian. Dr Andrew Jones resigned from the College of Veterinarians of B.C. effective December 1 2010, meaning he cannot answer specific questions about your pet's medical issues or make specific medical recommendations for your pet.

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