Sarah Wilson

Dog Expert

Dog Overheating: 5 Things to Do Immediately!


Sunny Dogs risk dog overheatingDespite your best efforts, your dog is overheating (or maybe already overheated).

Because the dog’s anatomy cools the blood to the brain before the body, the body can heat up quite a lot before the brain is in trouble but, once that tipping point is reached, you can be in a serious situation quickly.

Here are 5 steps I would take immediately if I thought a dog in my care were overheating:

1) Seek Cool
Get out of the sun immediately and if you can get inside to air conditioning, do that. Cool flooring is great. Seek shade, at the very least. If you have a cooling dog bed, use it!

2) Wet Skin
If you can hose your dog with cool water or wet him in the tub, do that. Cool water is ideal, not cold and absolutely not ice! Ice water constricts the blood vessels which actually slows cooling and you can plummet his temp from dangerously high to dangerously low.

If soaking your dog isn’t an option then wet the insides of his ears, inner thighs, arm pits and belly. Anywhere there is skin showing (or at least less coat for the furry dogs) can be wet. Repeatedly. Bare areas cool faster.

3) Add Air
Moving air speeds cooling so a fans or an air conditioner is a plus.

4) Small Drinks
Tempted to give him all the cold water he can drink? Don’t. Large amounts of really cold water can cause him to vomit or, some sources say, bloat. Instead, offer small amounts of cool water every few minutes. If you have electrolyte powder that may be helpful – check with your vet.

5) Call Vet
If your dog is unsteady or vomiting, disoriented and generally “out of it” seek immediate help. And I do mean immediate. If you wonder, “Should I call the vet?” Call. Do not wait. You’ll never go wrong getting their professional opinion ASAP.

Reader Dr. Mark Olcott from VitusVets adds: “Great advice, Sarah!  Having treated many cases of hyperthermia myself, early recognition and rapid treatment are paramount.  The only thing I’d add is to take the pet’s temperature as you cool them down and stop when their rectal temperature hits 103 in order to avoid OVER cooling them.”

Hopefully you’ll never need this info but, if you do, I am glad you now know how to help your dog.


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