Warning - Heat Stroke In Dogs

With higher temperatures than normal this summer all dog owners need to take action to protect their pets against heat stroke.

What is heat stroke

Heatstroke, or hyperthermia, is a life-threatening emergency that can develop if a dog gets too hot.

Dogs have limited ability to sweat so, to cool themselves down on warm days, they pant and use shade. All dogs are at risk but, because of their restricted airways, flat-faced dogs are in greater danger.

Heat stroke most frequently occurs on hot days:

  • when playing and exercising.
  • when trapped somewhere hot, such as a car, conservatory or south-facing room.
  • lying or sitting outside.

The longer it lasts the more dangerous heat stroke is, so the quicker your dog is cooled down and treated by a vet, the better their chance of recovery.


  • Panting, fast or difficult breathing.
  • Trying to find somewhere cool to lie.
  • Lethargy or staggering around.
  • Drooling or foaming at the mouth.
  • Vomiting or diarrhoea.
  • Shaking, weakness or confusion.
  • Collapse, seizures or unconsciousness.

What to do

Once a dog’s body temperature starts rising it is a life-threatening emergency.

Step 1: Move the dog from the source of heat.

Contact the vet to let them know you are on the way.

Step 2: Cool your dog down.

Begin cooling your dog immediately.

Soak the dog in cool water.

Put them on top of a cold wet towel.

Offer small amounts of cool drinking water.

Step 3: Go to the nearest vets.

Transport them in an air conditioned car or with the windows open.

Use car vents and fans to blow air on the dog.

If possible bring someone with you to keep cooling them while you travel.


  • Never leave your dog in a car on a warm day. Even a few minutes in the shade or with the windows open can be dangerous.
  • On warm days never leave your dog in other enclosed areas that can get hot, such as conservatories or south-facing rooms.
  • Remember fans rely on evaporation so can only cool if the dog is wet!
  • In hot weather do not allow dogs to lie outside.
  • Avoid travelling with your dog in a car when it’s hot. If the journey is absolutely necessary, make sure dogs are in the shade, have air flowing around them and can access drinking water.
  • Exercise when it’s cool.  Take them out in the early morning or evening when it’s cooler. Avoid exercise on hot days completely.
  • Make sure they always have access to shade and water.
  • Don’t walk your dog on a hot surface. Some surfaces, such as hard ground and tarmac can become hot enough to burn the feet.
  • Overweight dogs are more likely to become hyperthermic, so always follow our dietary advice.