Heatstroke is a life-threatening condition that requires immediate treatment. As a dog’s body temperature rises above its normal 101 degrees, it can experience severe brain, heart, kidney and liver damage. Body temperatures above 105 degrees can lead to coma or even death. Signs of heatstroke in dogs and cats include increased panting, excessive drooling, rapid heart rate, weakness, unsteadiness, collapse and dark red-purple mucous membranes.

The best way to prevent heatstroke is to avoid the dangerous conditions that cause it. Leaving pets in a parked car, insufficient water, lack of shade, vigorous play or exercise during hot, humid weather, and high-risk pets (such as arthritic, obese, dark fur and short-nosed breeds) are the most susceptible to overheating and heatstroke.

If you suspect heatstroke, take action immediately!


  • Remove the animal from the situation that caused overheating.
  • Place wet towels around the neck, armpits, groin, ear flaps, and paws. Rotate the towels frequently because the water in the towels heats up, and loses the cooling effect.
  • Use cool or tepid water and position a fan to blow air onto the dog.
  • Call your veterinarian immediately; but continue cooling during transport to the closest veterinary facility.
  • Even if the situation appears under control, take your pet to your veterinarian or an emergency hospital ASAP. Heatstroke can cause secondary problems, that aren’t immediately apparent, in the vital organs.


  • Don’t put your dog in an ice bath or use ice-cold water.
  • Don’t force your dog to drink water. Instead, keep drinking water close by while your dog recovers.
  • Don’t delay in taking your dog to your veterinarian for intervention and treatment. Veterinarians are experts and know exactly what to do to help save your dog’s life.

I hope I never have to see your dog for heatstroke; but summer in Texas can be dangerous for all our precious pets.

Have a Joyful June!

Dr. Bonnie