5 Symptoms of An Overheated Dog

Imagine going outside on an eighty-degree day wearing a head-to-toe fur coat. That is what your dog feels like on a beautiful summer day. Dogs can only withstand short increments in the heat. If a dog is left outside on a warm day, the results can be detrimental. Sometimes this leads to heat exhaustion or heat stroke. So, what symptoms should you look for if you think your dog might be overheated?

symptoms of overheated dog

Symptom of an Overheated Dog #1 – Excessive Panting

It is normal for a dog to pant when they have been outside for an extended period of time. However, if the dog’s panting continues for more than a few minutes, there may be a problem. Panting is how dogs cool themselves down as they are unable to sweat like humans. When overheated, a dog may pant for a while or even have trouble breathing. It is important that your dog sees a veterinarian immediately if this symptom develops.

Symptom of an Overheated Dog #2 – Pacing

Other than panting, a dog may try to relieve themselves from the heat by finding a cooler place to go. If you see your dog pacing back and forth attempting to find a cool place to lay, they may be overheated. A dog will also pace back and forth when uncomfortable. Laying down puts pressure on the diaphragm which can make a dog that is having trouble breathing feel even more short of breath. This is why a dog may be pacing around if overheated.

Symptom of an Overheated Dog #3 – Abnormal Color of Gums

If you suspect your dog may be overheated, it is important to check their gums. An overheated dog will present with brick-red or purple gums and their tongue may be the same color. This a cause of dehydration or lack of oxygen, both of which can be deadly.

Symptom of an Overheated Dog #4 – Lethargy

Being overheated can cause your dog to act lethargic. When the body is struggling to cool off by panting or pacing which exerts a lot of energy. This causes dehydration or a decrease in the amount of oxygen in your dog’s blood stream. For these reasons, your dog can become lethargic and weak as their entire body feels the effects of being overheated.

Symptom of an Overheated Dog #5 – High Fever

Possibly the easiest way to tell if your dog is overheated is by taking their temperature. This is best done rectally. The normal temperature for an at rest dog ranges from 99.5-102.5 degrees Fahrenheit. Temperatures above that range, or hyperthermia, signifies the body is in distress. If you take your dog’s temperature and it is above the normal limit but less than 105 degrees, they should be monitored carefully. If their temperature begins to rise or drastically reaches above 103 degrees, this should be considered an emergency and your dog should be rushed to the nearest emergency veterinarian.

What Happens if Your Dog Does Become Overheated?

If your dog is showing any of the above symptoms due to being overheated, the risk of them experiencing heat stroke increases. Heat stroke can be deadly if not treated in time. Once their temperature reaches over 105 degrees, your dog’s organs can begin to shut down. Of course, this includes the lungs and heart, two extremely vital organs. While it is possible for CPR to restart the heart, the chances are slim. And if CPR is successful, it can cause lifelong complications.

What to Do If You Suspect Your Dog is Overheated

If you are unsure whether or not your dog is overheating, it is never wrong to consult a veterinarian. However, if that is not an option, there are a few simple steps that can be taken:

Move your dog to a cooler location

Keeping your dog indoors with ample air conditioning during the hot summer days is best. If you are unable to seek shelter indoors, find some shade outside from a tree or other large object.

Offer your dog plenty of water (but don’t let them gorge)

Be sure to have plenty of drinking water for your dog, and if you’re traveling, keeping a bowl handy is best. It’s great for your dog to stay hydrated, but like humans, too much water can be dangerous for a pet.

Put a fan on your dog

Air circulation helps with cooling down. Have your dog rest in a room with a ceiling fan or plug in a box fan or oscillating fan near your best friend so they can feel the nice breeze.

Remove excess equipment

Remove any additional equipment, such as harnesses and muzzles, or accessories from your dog. This will help give them some relief from the heat.

Prevention is Key

Preventing your dog from showing symptoms of being overheated is rather easy. For instance, monitoring their time outside on a hot day, keeping plenty of fresh, cool water around, or making sure they have a cool, shady spot outside is a start. Other things such as regular grooming can help, too. If you have any questions, feel free to contact our animal hospital at (734) 464-6281.