As summer approaches, dog owners should be careful about letting their dogs out in the sun. Heat exhaustion is a real and dangerous problem for dogs. Here’s what you need to know about keeping your pets safe during the dog days of summer. 

How to recognize and prevent heat exhaustion in dogs
How to recognize and prevent heat exhaustion in dogs
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In extreme temperatures, dogs may be susceptible to heat exhaustion, which may lead to serious health problems. It may even be fatal if it goes unnoticed for too long.

In order to best deal with heat exhaustion in dogs, you must be on the alert for early warning signs. The symptoms of heat exhaustion in dogs include:

Excessive Panting or Hyperventilation

If your dog is overheated, they may begin hyperventilating or have difficulty breathing. This symptom will probably get more and more pronounced as heat exhaustion gets worse.

This is one of the reasons why brachycephalic or flat-faced dogs, such as pugs or pit bulls, are more vulnerable to heat exhaustion. These breeds can not breathe or pant as efficiently, so they will probably overheat more quickly.


Dogs suffering from dehydration may be unusually sluggish and tired. They may also pant excessively. They may also have a dry nose and sunken eyes.

Another test of dehydration in dogs, suggested by the American Kennel Club, is the gum test. Press your finger against your dog’s gums and observe what happens after you remove your finger. Their gums should regain color immediately after you remove your finger; if not, your dog is probably severely dehydrated.

If they show any of these symptoms, you should get them out of the sun and give them water quickly. However, if the problem seems severe, you may want to take them to a vet.

Your dog may be suffering from heat exhaustion if their gums are an unusual color. This is also a sign of dehydration.

Lethargy or Weakness

If your dog is inexplicably lethargic in the middle of the day, it’s possible that they are overheated. You may want to get them out of the sun and help them cool down.

Furthermore, if your dog is consistently lethargic or constantly sleeping at odd hours during the summer, they may be suffering the effects of severe heat exhaustion.

Increased Heart Rate

Heat exhaustion may cause dogs to have an increased heart rate. If you need to check, the easiest way to take a dog’s pulse is to feel their chest near their front elbow joint.

Keep in mind that the resting heart rate for healthy dogs will depend on their breed. Larger dogs will generally have a slower resting heart rate, while smaller dogs will have a faster resting heart rate.


If your dog’s nose is dry and their body temperature is unusually high, they may have a fever. You should get them out of the sun immediately and take them to a vet.

Confusion or Delirium

If your dog is confused or delirious, they are probably suffering from severe heat exhaustion.

This may be as subtle as your dog taking a long time to respond to commands or wandering off when you are talking to them. If you’re out in the sun with your dog and they begin acting strangely, it may be time to bring them inside.

What to Do About Heat Exhaustion

If your dog shows one or more of these signs on a particularly hot day, they may be at risk of heat exhaustion. You should get them out of the sun immediately and gradually reduce their body heat.

You can do this by getting them into a cool place and giving them water. You should also try wetting their fur with cool water, especially on their paws and around their ears. Afterward, put them near a fan to dry them off.

Do not, however, give them cold water or try to lower their body temperature too quickly. Drastic temperature changes in dogs with heat exhaustion may only make the problem worse. If symptoms continue, you should take your dog to the vet.

Let us know what you think of the signs of heat exhaustion in the comments section below.