Heat Stoke in Dogs

Heat stroke in dogs is very serious and every dog owner should be aware of the causes, warning signs, and treatment for it.


Our canine friends pant to keep their body temps regulated. However, there are those times when a dog may not be able to keep his body temperature within normal boundaries. If a dog cannot cool his body fast enough for his rapidly rising body temperature and a heatstroke occurs.

Hyperthermia - An elevated body temperature due to failed thermoregulation. Hyperthermia occurs when the body produces or absorbs more heat than it can dissipate. When the elevated body temperatures are sufficiently high, hyperthermia is a medical emergency and requires immediate treatment to prevent disability or death.

First and foremost, we must use a little common sense:

  1. NEVER leave your pet alone in a car. It never fails.... "I'll just run in a minute and get...." only to come back and find your dog has suffered a heatstroke or worse.
  2. Supervise dog during play. Dogs have a tendency to get all caught up in the excitement of playing outdoors that they figure to stop and rest when they're over-doing it. So pay attention and stop play for cool down breaks.
  3. Do not exercise or walk your dog during the hottest times of the day. Know the day's weather forecast and choose the best time to spend outdoors. 

You must heed the warnings signs and know what to do.

Heat Stroke Warning Signs & Treatment

The normal body temperature of a dog ranges between 38 - 39°C or 103°F. And under normal situation our dogs are able to maintain this temperature through panting.

The problem occurs when a dog is unable to lose enough heat to cool its body down. This may happen due to over-exertion, heat itself, poor ventilation of a room or place, excessive humidity, and so on.

It's also important to know that overweight dogs and/or older dogs are more susceptible to heat strokes, as are puppies and dogs that have a chronic illness.

Warning Signs

While our dogs display warning signs of becoming over-heated, they are so mild we may not recognize what is going on until a heatstroke occurs.

In the early stages of a heatstroke, your dog will pant rapidly; have thick, ropey saliva; and have bright red gums. His 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. Time is of the essence!

Your pet will have pale gums, be weak and dizzy, with vomiting and diarrhea. The brain becomes affected and he may seizure or fall into a coma. Your Miniature Schnauzer now requires immediate, life-saving veterinary intervention.

And all of this can happen in a matter of minutes!

Treatment when dog over heats

Don't wait and think your dog will be alright. The minute you notice any signs your Schnauzer is over-heating begin to cool him down.

• OUT OF THE HEAT - Remove your pet from the hot environment. Get him out of the car and away from the sun. Find a shaded area or a place with air condition.

• TO THE VET ASAP - If you suspect a heatstroke and your dog has collapsed, get your pet immediate veterinary care. In this case, the organs may be shutting down and your pet needs specialized care to survive. While in transit, it is important to continue to apply cool wet towels to the back of your dog's neck and groin area.

• WHAT'S THE TEMP? - Use a rectal thermometer and find your pet's exact temperature: if it is 106°F or higher, a heatstroke has occurred, and you need to take immediate action.

• COOL DOWN - Run cool water over the back of your pet's head. Wet towels and place between the back legs, on the belly and under the armpits.

• ALCOHOL SOLUTION - Rubbing alcohol can also speed up heat loss; it can be applied to the belly and groin, cooling your dog as it evaporates. Liberally spread it on the skin; the most important thing is to reduce the temperature in a controlled way.

• DO NOT IMMERSE IN COLD WATER - Immersing your dog in cold water could over correct the problem. The trick is to cool your pet down quickly and slowly at the same time.

• RE-HYDRATE - Let your pet drink as much cool water as he can. If you have an electrolyte replacement, such as Gatorade, then add this to his water. If your pet drinks lots of water at once, he is very likely to vomit.

Even if you are able to cool your dog down and he appears to be fine, a trip to the vet is in order.

Dog Heatstroke Prevention

Here are some precautions to take to prevent your Miniature Schnauzer from suffering any heat-related illness.

Summer Dog Heat Safety

• Have an easy-to-use thermometer for dogs or use a rectal thermometer to assess your dog's body temperature.

• Always carry your dog first aid kit on outings so you are better prepared to handle emergencies.

• Have your vet's phone number programmed into your home phone and cell phone.

• Don't let your Schnauzer over-do it. Force your dog to take a needed rest under a shaded area and always have a fresh supply of water on hand. These nifty hand held water dispensers make that easy to do.

• Schedule your Schnauzer's time outdoors for early morning and late evenings when Summer temps are at the lowest.

• Stay off hot pavements and asphalt which can also blister and damage your Schnauzer's paw pads. (See infographic below)

• Never ever leave your dog alone in a car. It doesn't matter if you leave the window cracked open or not. It will not be enough to keep your dog cool and it isn't safe for other reasons too (pet theft).

• Always be aware of your dog's condition, mannerisms, and habits, especially during the hot summer months.


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Dog Paw Safety on Hot Pavement

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Related Topics:
Summer Safety Tips for Dogs
First Aid for Dogs
Keep Cool with No Air Conditioning


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