Symptoms of Heat Stress


A dog exhibiting any of these symptoms needs immediate veterinary care as brain damage, kidney failure, seizures, and death can occur:

– Excessive panting (fast, wide, red tongue)

– Thickened salivation (drooling)

– Staring (appears to be looking at nothing)

– Warm skin and paw pads

– Rapid pulse

– Weakness

– Rectal body temperature over 103° (normal is 100°-102°F)

– Staggering (may be an early symptom)

– Extreme fatigue

– Anxiety

– Vomiting

– Diarrhea

If you suspect heat stress, take the dog’s rectal temperature. Your goal is to get the temperature down to 103°F and then transport him to a veterinarian. Repeat taking his temperature every five minutes.

Move the dog to an air-conditioned space, if possible. If not, get him in the shade. Offer water, but do not force it, as he may have difficulty swallowing it.

Apply gel ice packs, bags of frozen vegetables, or cold water (with a cold cloth, by pouring or gently spraying it) to the dog’s neck area. Use fans to increase air flow. Wet his groin, underbelly, “armpits,” throat area, and paws. Spray him with a water hose for one or two minutes or see if he will go into a kiddie pool full of water. As tempting as it may be, avoid using ice water. Yes, you want a quick, steady decrease of body temperature, but not another shock to the system. Frozen gel packs and cold cloths are recommended and work well if placed in the neck area. As soon as his temperature is back to 103°F, immediately transport him to a veterinarian.