Top 5 Dog Heat Stroke Symptoms: spot overheating FAST!

Heat Stroke in dogs is a deadly killer.  It is so important to be able to pick up that your dog is overheating before they become critically unwell.

Keep an eye out for these 5 main heat stroke symptoms, take action quickly, and keep your dog safe in the sun.

Remember too, that and it doesn't even have to be that hot.  A sudden increase in temperature can just as easily cause overheating and heat stroke, even if the actual temperature is not that high.  Your dog will not be acclimatized and so the risk is very real.


Dog Heat Stroke Symptoms

  • Heavy panting

  • Drooling

  • Dry, red gums

  • Vomiting and diarrhea

  • Collapse + other nervous problems

Heavy panting

The first sign that a dog is overheating is heavy, excessive panting.

Dog’s normally pant when it’s hot though, so how can you tell if they are starting to overheat rather than just panting normally?

During normal panting, your dog’s mouth will often only be half open. Their tongue will only be half showing, and they will also take breaks in panting, especially after a short rest.

On the other hand, as a dog’s internal body temperature climbs, they will fully open their mouth, their tongue will be hanging all the way out and may even become swollen. They will also constantly pant without any stopping, even if they have been resting for some time. It could also be that your dog won’t take treats and will refuse to move. They are just so focused on trying to cool down.

This is a sure sign that they are not out of breath from exertion, they are in fact becoming overheated.

Excessive drooling

The second symptom of developing heat stroke in dogs is excessive drooling.

Evaporating saliva takes heat away from the body, and that is what helps to cool your dog. The more saliva that evaporates, the more heat that a dog is going to lose. As a result, a dog who is starting to seriously overheat will produce more saliva as the body attempts to cool itself down as quickly as possible

This means you could start seeing drooling. Your dog might start getting really wet with drool around their mouth, chin and even chest as this extra saliva soaks down through their coat.

As a dog becomes closer to developing heat stroke, their saliva will become much thicker and more stringy.

This is a sign that your dog is becoming dehydrated and that it is approaching the danger zone. If a dog gets really dehydrated, they’re then going to stop producing saliva completely.

Dry, red gums

This leads on to the third heatstroke sign. As dehydration progresses, not only does the saliva start to dry up, the gums are going to first become tacky and then completely dry. There is simply no excessive water for the body to use to produce saliva, as it tries to protect the internal organs.

As well as becoming dry, the gums will also become more red as all of the blood vessels on the outside of your dog’s body open up and dilate. Hot blood flowing close to the surface is an attempt to try and lose even more heat. This is best seen in the gums, where they go from being a salmon pink to a bright red, sometimes even brick red.

Vomiting and diarrhea

Things are becoming more serious now. Your dog has gone from becoming overheated and at serious risk of heat stroke, to showing the first serious signs that their body is starting to become irreparably damaged.

The organs and other body systems begin to really struggle. They start to break down, and it won’t be long before a dog starts to go into multi-organ failure. This is clearly bad news. Your dog is cooking from the inside!

The breakdown in the intestinal lining is one of the first areas to become severely damaged. This causes vomiting and diarrhea. You might see fresh blood in their vomit or in their stool. The stool might also become black or tar-like as the blood that is passing through the intestines gets digested.

A hot dog who starts to vomit and diarrhea needs help straight away. They really are teetering on the edge of being able to survive their heat stroke.

learn all about the symptoms of heatstroke in dogs

Collapse + nervous problems

My final dog heat stroke symptoms you need to know about in your dog are hardly subtle. These are a change in mental state, confusion, wobbliness, collapse, seizure, coma and ultimately death. The body’s nervous system is becoming compromised.

This starts with your dog just stopping all the time and not responding to you as normal and appear vacant. They may become wobbly and unsteady on their legs and start to develop muscle twitching. Or they may lie down and either refuse or be unable to move.

Next comes a loss of consciousness, seizures can develop followed by coma and death will not be far away.

It’s important to remember that each symptom does not happen in isolation. A dog can appear fine one minute, and 10 minutes later start to seizure. Heat stroke can develop very quickly (especially if they are trapped in a hot car or exercised in the middle of the day)

If your dog is showing any of these signs of heat stroke you need to take it seriously immediately. Stopping whatever you are doing and take action to cool them down. If a dog is suffering from heatstroke then cooling them before you get to the vet can reduce their chance of dying by a whopping 23%!

Head over to this article to read my top techniques for cooling your dog quickly.

You can also find them in my free summer dog care guide

Enjoy the hot weather, but keep your dog safe at the same time!