Signs of Pet Heat Exhaustion and Ways to Avoid


Dog drinking water from water bottle on hot day

I wait for summer the whole year. My furry friend Franky and I live the summer like this is the last summer we are going to have. Summer means long days of entertainment and fun, but high temperatures always feel like our enemy to stop us from enjoying the season. One time, Franky got numb, started panting and lost his consciousness. I immediately took Franky to a vet and described the whole situation. He educated me about the condition and advised me how to avoid such situations in the summer. Now I enjoy my summer with Franky without any disturbance, and I want you, too, to have an amazing time with your furry friends. My article will educate you about heat exhaustion and its prevention tips.


Sit back! And start your summer with the following precautions.


Heat exhaustion

Heat exhaustion is simply an increase in the body temperature, which is called hyperthermia in medical terms. Excessive heat leads to the increase in body temperature. Normally, the body can manage increasing body temperature, but excessive heat can be difficult to manage. In hyperthermia, the body is unable to regain its normal body temperature, and can lead to serious complications.


Heat exhaustion can be mild to severe. You can treat mild heat exhaustion at home but its severe form, heatstroke, leads to unconsciousness, high fever and even organ failure. Therefore, it is important to take recommended steps in summer to prevent your pup from heat exhaustion. Dogs pant to decrease the body temperature in summer. But sometimes it's hard for them to keep up with hot day temperature plus their own body heat they create when playing outside. Therefore, it becomes difficult for them to survive in summer heat.


Signs of heat exhaustion

There are obvious signs that you can observe in your dog, which tells you about heat exhaustion.

-Panting -Pulse

-Dehydration -Tremors

-Excessive drooling -Weight loss

-Fever -Vomiting/diarrhea

-Gum discoloration -Dizziness

-Urination


Dog panting after a walk

Panting

It's normal for dogs to pant after exercise or when their temperature rises above normal. Usually, they can control their temperature by doing this. But, when it becomes excessive, it can be a sign of heat exhaustion. You should monitor your dog when outside and the temperature becomes uncomfortable for you or your pup.


Dehydration

Dehydration is also the obvious sign that will lead your dog toward heat exhaustion. Your dog will behave lethargically when he is dehydrated. Dogs skin coat is an indication of dehydration. If you pinch the skin, lift it upwards, and it comes back to its original position in less than 3 seconds, then your dog is normal. If the skin does not come back in less than 3 seconds, then your dog is dehydrated. Your furry friend's nose will also be dry, and you will observe excessive panting. These are the obvious signs of dehydration. Always provide fresh, clean water for your pup!


Dog panting with excessive drool

Excessive drooling

When your dog is dehydrated, body secretions will be thicker. You can observe his drool to indicate possible heat exhaustion. You can tell the difference from normal every day drool your pup creates from the thick, seemingly slimy/sticky drool from his lack of water intake drool. The body will not have enough water to secrete watery, normal appearing drool.


Fever

Mostly in summer, when the outside temperature becomes the high, internal temperature of the body also rises. Because the body does not have the capacity to cope with such temperature extremes, dogs get fever in summer more frequently—Dog's temperature of more than 103 degrees is abnormal. Whenever you observe high body temperature, it is a sign of heat exhaustion and he may need medical attention.


Dog muzzle showing teeth

Gum discoloration

The color of gums can tell whether your dog is dehydrated or not. Normally gums are a bright red color with a thin mucus layer on them. If you find the gums dry and their color is different from normal, it can indicate dehydration and heat exhaustion. You can keep an eye on this color when your dog is panting.


Urination

Urination is another indication to find dehydration in your dog. You should be aware of your dog's normal urine color when he is healthy. If urine color changes, becomes concentrated, and your dog has difficulty urinating, your dog is dehydrated. Always provide fresh, clean water for your pup!


Labrador retriever standing in the grass panting

Pulse rate

Normally, bigger dogs have a higher pulse rate than small dogs. When under heat stress, the pulse rate increases; you can check the pulse rate at home. Higher pulse rate than normal means your pup is in stress. Place two fingers (not your thumb) on the depression found in your dog’s inner upper thigh, over the Femoral artery. Count the pulse for 15 seconds. Then, multiply by 4 to get the beats per minute. The normal pulse rate for small dogs will range between 90 and 160 beats per minute. Larger dogs will have a lower normal pulse rate, usually between 65 and 90 beats per minute.


Tremors

If you find your dog shivering or shaking in summer, it is an obvious sign of heat stress, and your dog is suffering from heat exhaustion!


Sleeping dog in the bed

Weight loss

Heat stress for a long period will lead to a decrease in the weight of your dog. In addition, overheating will cause your dog to take more naps than normal and your dog will not be active as he should be.


Vomiting or diarrhea

Vomiting or diarrhea is common when your dog goes into heat stress. Abnormal stool, maybe with blood, is a big warning for you and your friend.


Dizziness

Lethargy, weight loss, decreased activity, and dizziness while walking are clear signs of warning for you and your dog. You must not ignore these signs and take immediate steps to solve the heat exhaustion issue.


There is a good deal about heat exhaustion that you can prevent easily.


Prevention of heat exhaustion

There are multiple ways to encounter heat exhaustion in summer. Following tips will tell you some encounters you can have in summer and the probable way to avoid heat exhaustion.

explanation on how to prevent heatstroke in dogs
Photo from Tacoma Park Police

Limit the time your pup spends outdoors

In summers, the outside temperature is unbearable for longer stays. If you are barefooted and you just feel the temperature of the ground, you may change your mind in a second. So, imagine your pup in your place. How can he stand on hot surfaces if you think it's too hot for yourself? Therefore, it is best to keep him inside the home during the day. Schedule your activities according to the suitable times of morning and evening.


Pool

If you have a backyard in-ground pool or even a kiddy pool, your dog can spend hotter times in the water! Spending hot hours in a pool can help your pup enjoy the sun without any consequence. Just remember, keeping the pool in a shaded area is always the better option! If your pool is not shaded, it can allow higher risk of heat conditions. Direct heat can disturb the temperature of the body. It is also not healthy to frequently dive in cool water and come out facing the extreme heat of the sun. So, always supervise your pup!

dog swimming in the pool to cool off from heat

Home temperature

Some people turn the AC off while leaving home, but this isn't the best option for your furry friend. Air Conditioning regulates the home temperature constantly. It is a good idea to keep a temperature that is comfortable for your pet. Remember parked car can become a kiln in few minutes, so why not the home? It is recommended to keep the AC on while leaving the house so that your furry friend does not suffer heat exhaustion.


Don't leave your friend in the car

You can feel the heat leave the car when you are opening the door to get in during the day. You know that the car's inside temperature is far more than the outside temperature just by this experience. This is the same heat that builds up in the car after you leave. On a day where the environmental temperature is 80 degrees, the car's temperature can reach 100 in just 10 minutes. You must remember that your furry friend is more sensitive than you. On a normal day, when the outside temperature is 90 degrees, your car's temperature can reach 110, and when the outside temperature is 100, the car's temperature can reach 120 in just 30 minutes. The point is it can be deadly to leave your furry friend in a car when you go shopping in the mall or anywhere else.


Ensure enough water

You must be aware of the fact that your dog does not have sweat glands on all over its skin. The only place of sweat glands are on the pads of the foot. Therefore dogs cope with the heat stress by panting, resting and drinking water. You must assure enough supply of drinking water for your furry friend.

dog wearing sunglasses on vacation

Keep your dog with you on summer vacation

Well, I always keep my dog with me wherever I go on summer vacations. Some people don't keep their pet on summer vacations, and rather they leave a dog sitter at home for its care. You must be aware that no one can take care of your baby the way you can. Your dog sitter may not be aware of the heat exhaustion, and his little negligence can cause big problems.


Besides the health precaution, there is a good reason for you to take your friend with you. Your furry friend can make your summer so amazing that you can't even imagine. Dogs can do anything to please their owners. So, always choose to keep your pup with you! They are the life of the party, right? Of course!



pug dog walking in the grass

Medical history

You should also be aware of your dog's medical history. If your dog has a history of heat exhaustion, you should strictly follow the preventions. No negligence is acceptable in this situation.


Some dogs can be more prone to heat exhaustion due to their short snouts. Some of these pups include Pugs, French Bulldogs, Boston Terriers and English Bulldogs, Boxers, and Shih Tzus. These dogs have a harder time breathing in hot weather. Paired with exercise, heat exhaustion is a threat to them.


How to treat heat exhaustion

Whenever you find your dog suffering from heat exhaustion, you should follow the following steps.

  1. Bring your dog to a relatively cooler area, indoors or where the fan/AC is on.

  2. After few minutes of cool air, shower cool water on him. Avoid cold water because it will give more harm than good. Cool water will help lower its body temperature. You should use lukewarm water for small dogs.

  3. Shower more water around the ears and on paws as they are more sensitive areas to help reduce the fever.

  4. After showering, put them in front of a fan to get dry. It will further decrease the temperature. You should check the temperature and see if it is dropped. If the temperature decreases significantly, then turn off the fan and stop showering.

  5. As temperatures gradually decreased, allow him to drink lukewarm water.

Call your veterinarian

Immediately call your vet even if you see your dog recovering. There may need to monitor further complications of heat exhaustion. If your dog goes unconscious or loses his senses, immediately bring him to the nearest veterinary hospital.

Final thoughts

Summer can be fun and entertaining, but it requires some extra attention and care. Follow the instructions to make sure that your pet stays safe and healthy, and this summer will be one of the best you have experienced so far.

dog smiling in the shade