Preventing Dog Heat Stroke: Signs, Symptoms, And Effects

Dog in Hot Weather

Dogs are some of the best traveling companions you could ever hope for. They rarely complain, they are typically always willing to have fun, and they certainly help dispel loneliness on those long, never-ending trips.

Bringing your dog along with you when you travel has, even more, advantages than just the ones which are seemingly apparent at first.

Regardless of whether you are a trucker and need a buddy for those long nights awake behind the wheel, or you are simply going on a long trip, and you want your dog to come along with you, bringing your dog along has its advantages.

Taking Your Dog On The Road

Prime among these advantages is that you will not need to put your dog up with family or friends so it will be fed and it will get its exercise.

The alternative option to the family and friends route is to have a kennel take possession of your dog for the duration of your trip, but the price combined with the negative reputation which is typical for kennels puts an end to that consideration for most owners.

Collie waiting by the road

So if you are not one for kennels and you do not have friends and family who are capable of taking care of your dog for an extended journey, you will have to bring your pet along with you.

You will find that this is an entirely acceptable option and it may even be the best solution if your dog is comfortable with long rides and does not tend to be too hyper.

You have the benefit of added security on the road if you have a large dog as well as the bonus to your morale that your dog will provide on longer nights.

Gear For Your Companion On The Road

Before you bring your dog out with you on the road, there are some considerations to make regarding what additional gear you will have to bring along to deal with your canine companion on the road.

The first thing you should certainly invest in is a comfortable dog crate. This not only helps you keep your dog contained in the unfortunate event of an accident, but it will also help with more hyper dogs who tend to get overexcited when they are in a vehicle.

You will want to ensure that your dog crate is comfortable as your pet may be spending quite a deal of time in it.

It is also important to bring dog bowls for food and water along with you, as you may need to make stops for your dog to eat and drink. Also be sure to bring along an adequate supply of bottled water and your choice of dog food.

Preventing Dog Heat Stroke: Signs, Symptoms, And Effects

You may be going a long distance between potential stops that may have dog food in stock, so be sure to bring enough food and water to last you that amount of time.

Something else which is important to remember is stopping frequently enough so your dog can do its business.

You do not want to have any unfortunate accidents in your vehicle, and your pet will grow very uncomfortable if you do not stop often enough, so be sure to keep your dog's bladder in mind while you drive.

If you are driving during the summertime, it is important to remember that your dog will get very hot if you do not have adequate air conditioning or air circulation.

This is also true if you are taking an extended stop, so you must always be on the lookout for signs of heat stroke in your dog as this is a very dangerous condition which can injure your dog or even result in death.

Signs & Symptoms Of Heat Stroke In Dogs

There are many potential signs of heat stroke. Your dog will have a body temperature more than 104 degrees Fahrenheit if it is suffering from heatstroke and it will begin to pant very fast; this is the first sign of heat stroke.

The next sign is reddening of soft tissues, such as the tongue. If you find that your dog's tongue or gums have reddened excessively in hot conditions, this is a sure sign that heat stroke has taken hold.

The next symptom is that your dog will begin to drool excessive amounts of very sticky and thick saliva. It will be either abnormally thick or will always be drooling. These symptoms can occur independently of each other.

Small dog with thermometer

The next symptoms will be weakness or dizziness; your dog will begin to have trouble standing up until it is removed from the heat of the warm environment.

The next and more severe symptoms before irreversible damage may be done will be vomiting and diarrhea. Hyperthermia or heatstroke will cause your dog's body to begin having trouble digesting their previous meal.

Past this point, your dog will start to suffer from shock and may slip into a coma, resulting in either permanent brain damage or even death.

It is for these very reasons that you must take the utmost care with your dog in a vehicle in warm environments.

Whether you have to leave the windows open or the air conditioner on, it is imperative to ensure that your dog's body temperature doesn't rise past 103 degrees Fahrenheit or they may have serious medical complications.

Causes & Prevention Of Heat Stroke In Dogs

The causes of heat stroke in dogs depend upon multiple environmental factors as well as the individual dog's medical history.

There are two forms of hyperthermia in dogs, one form is fever-based hyperthermia, in which a dog's body temperature rises above the 103-degree line due to a fever. This is a medical issue and is not dependent upon any environmental factors.

The second form of dog hyperthermia is non-fever hyperthermia, and it can be caused by a large range of factors, both environmental and medical.

In the case of fever hyperthermia, it is crucial to bring your dog to the vet as soon as you can so it can receive treatment, as fever hyperthermia is equally if not more dangerous than non-fever hyperthermia.

Small dog rolling on ice cubes

Some of the causes for non-fever hyperthermia include medical issues such as respiratory tract ailments, heart diseases and other forms of disease which must be diagnosed by a vet.

There is little that can be done about such ailments by an owner and not a veterinarian so we will attempt to focus on the causes which can be prevented by an owner.

By far the most common cause of non-fever hyperthermia in pets is from an overly-hot environment. Regardless of whether it is in a room or a vehicle, an environment which has uncomfortable heat levels will often lead to a dog suffering from heat stroke.

It is imperative to remember that dogs have a thick coat of fur and they cannot sweat, so environments which are uncomfortable to use will be downright sweltering to dogs. Another important consideration lies in your dog’s breed.

An Alaskan Malamute will not have the same heat-resistance as a Pitbull, for example. Breeds of dogs raised in arctic climates will be far more vulnerable to the effects of heat stroke due to their thermally insulated fur and their predisposition to colder climates.

As we stated earlier, the best ways to prevent your pet from getting heat stroke in the confines of your vehicle on hot days is to open the windows, if the draft will provide enough cool air to keep your dog at a comfortable temperature.

If the draft is insufficient and it is an excessively hot day, you will have no choice but to use the air conditioner in your vehicle to maintain a cool ambient temperature.

Other causes of heat stroke can be overworking your dog. If your dog has been exercising for quite some time and it begins to show any of the above symptoms, it may be suffering from moderate heat stroke, so it is important that you return home and let your dog sit in a cool environment where it can moderate its body temperature in a more effective fashion.

Treatment For Heat Stroke Or Exhaustion

There are many options for treatment if your dog has suffered heat stroke. The most important aspect to consider before treating your dog for heat stroke is the severity of the heat stroke which your pet endured.

If your pet's body temperature exceeded 104 degrees Fahrenheit, it suffered from severe heat stroke, if it did not exceed that threshold, your pet very likely suffered moderate heat stroke.

White dog by the car window

In the case of severe heat stroke, it is important to get your pet to a veterinarian as soon as possible, as your pet may have suffered organ damage over the course of the heat stroke.

If your pet suffered a more moderate heat stroke, you can care for it on your own in the immediate time following the heat stroke and then seek veterinary help later as long as all of the symptoms have passed by the end of the exposure to temperature.

There are many things you must do to alleviate moderate heat stroke, but the first and most important choice is to get your dog in a cool, dark environment where they will be more comfortable and not as hot.

You can choose to wrap your dog in cool towels or spray it down with cool water to more quickly dissipate the heat from its fur. An important thing to remember is that you must avoid very cold water.

Very cold water will make your pet's body temperature drop too fast as well as reduce your pet's ability to disperse its body heat naturally.

Big Labrador shaking water in the wild

Very cold water can also cause a temperature shock if your pet's body temperature drops at a startling rate. With this in mind, let your dog drink as much cool water as it would like over the course of its recovery, in no case must you force your dog to drink water, however.

Once you have stabilized your dog, for the time being, you must then set up an appointment with your veterinarian as soon as possible.

Heat stroke is no joking matter, and your dog may have residual organ damage from its heat stroke so it is important to get veterinary aid as soon as you can. If your dog has any issues which are the cause of the hypothermia, your vet will also take corrective measures.

Dog Recovery From A Heat Stroke

Heat stroke recovery time greatly depends on the degree of severity of the heat stroke. More severe heat strokes which result in permanent organ damage may never be recoverable, and the dog may be permanently disabled.

Thankfully, these cases are rarer than more moderate cases, as severe heatstroke takes either pre-existing medical issues or severe negligence to occur.

More mild heat stroke can have a recovery period of a few days to a couple of weeks. Your dog may be slightly low on energy after its heat stroke, so make sure you do not overwork it when you decide to take it out on walks.

It is also important to try and keep your dog in a cooler space over the course of its recovery as you do not want it overheating once more.

Small dog enjoying by the fan

Heat stroke is recoverable and will not result in permanent damage for your pet. Regardless, it is still a traumatic experience which should be avoided if at all possible.

With summer coming soon, it is important to care for your four-legged friend and ensure that it is always at a good temperature.


Dog heat stroke is often preventable. It is important to recognize the causes and signs of dog heat stroke and take proactive measures to ensure your dog's safety and good health. We hope this guide has been helpful for you.