Unlike humans, dogs are unable to cool themselves through sweating. Instead, dogs rely on less efficient methods such as panting and are, therefore, at an increased risk of heat exhaustion, which can escalate into heatstroke.
Normal Temperature vs. Heat Exhaustion
A dog’s normal body temperature is typically 100°F- 102.5°F.
Heat exhaustion is typically classified as a body temperature over 103°F, with heat stroke being over 106°F.
What to Look For:
Specific dogs are more at risk of developing heat exhaustion than others so it is important to recognize which category your pet falls under.
- Young Puppies & Elderly Dogs: It is essential to know the age of your dog as young puppies may not be used to the heat, and elderly dogs can face other complications.
- Brachycephalic Breeds: Due to their flat face and stubby nose, brachycephalic breeds such as boxers and pugs are unable to pant as efficiently as breeds with longer snouts.
How to Prevent Heat Exhaustion
On hot days or those with high humidity, take precautions to avoid heat exhaustion. These include limiting your dog’s exercise, offering plenty of water, and keeping them inside with air conditioning. Parked vehicles (even those with the windows down) warm-up exceptionally quickly, even on mild days, making this a dangerous situation for your dog.
Signs of Heat Exhaustion in Dogs:
If your dog is expressing these symptoms, call your veterinarian and quickly move them inside with air conditioning or under a fan.
- Excessive panting
- Discolored tongue and gums
Checking your dog’s temperature can help determine the severity of heat exhaustion, and will provide additional insight to your veterinarian. You can use cool (not cold!) water on their armpits and the pads of their paws. Lukewarm or room temperature water can be offered, but avoid using cold water or ice cubes.
For more information on heat exhaustion, visit the AKC Canine Health Foundation website, HERE.