Heat Exhaustion in Dogs

Summer is here! Those of us in the veterinary care industry often—unfortunately—start seeing cases of heat exhaustion at this time of year. Florida summers are pretty brutal. That scorching heat can be really hard on our canine companions. A local Tampa, FL vet discusses heat exhaustion in dogs in this article.


Keep a close eye out for signs of heat exhaustion. You’ll likely notice panting first. Panting in and of itself doesn’t always signify a medical issue, but if Fido is panting heavily or more quickly than usual, pay close attention. Panting is also an immediate warning sign with brachycephalic pups, like pugs. Other red flags include drooling, fever, discolored gums, lack of urine or dark urine, elevated pulse, lethargy, weakness, vomiting, diarrhea, and/or trembling. You’ll also need to watch for signs of dehydration, such as a dry nose and sunken eyes.

What To Do

If you see any of these signs in your pooch, immediately give Fido some water and get him to a cooler area. This ideally should be a room cooled by fans or air conditioners. You can wet him down with cool water, or soak a towel with water and wrap him in that. Don’t use cold water: that could overwhelm your canine buddy. If your pet is a puppy or small dog, use lukewarm water. You can also mist him with water, and point a fan at him. Call your vet as you are doing this. You’ll probably need to bring him into the clinic once he’s stable enough to travel. Even if your furry pal seems to recover, he’ll still be at risk for complications, such as shock, dehydration, and kidney failure.


Your best line of action is to protect Fido from getting heat exhaustion in the first place. Keep him out of the heat as much as possible. Dogs are both safer and more comfortable indoors, in rooms cooled by fans or air conditioners, on hot days. Also, never ever leave your pooch in a parked car. This, sadly, has been the cause of many tragic pet deaths. Finally, make sure Fido always has fresh water and access to shade. Your furry buddy probably won’t object to having some cool treats—such as doggy ice cream—on occasion, either.

Do you need to make an appointment for your pet? Contact us, your local Tampa, FL veterinary clinic, anytime!

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