Beat the Heat: Prevent Heat Exhaustion in Dogs

July 15, 2020 5 min read

Heat exhaustion, or heat stroke, is a state of hyperthermia, which is an elevated core body temperature that exceeds the normal range. This occurs when heat generation goes beyond the body’s ability to lose heat. Dogs are unable to sweat effectively, unlike humans, because their merocrine sweat glands are located on the pads of their paws. Instead, dogs make an effort to regulate their body temperature by panting. Much like dehydration in dogs, this condition can quickly become life-threatening, as heat exhaustion can cause permanent brain and organ damage if not dealt with promptly. It’s very important to closely monitor sporting and working dogs for symptoms of heat stroke, even if they are accustomed to being outside on hot or humid days.

All dogs are susceptible to suffering from heat exhaustion if not provided a break from the heat, but there are numerous contributing factors that may cause a dog to be more prone to it.

  • Extremely active, task-oriented breeds, such as hunting dogs, are more likely to be at risk of heat exhaustion because they tend to become hyper-focused on completing the task. This results in the dog not realizing they are overheating until it’s too late.
  • Environmental factors play a large role in heat-related issues that dogs may experience. Please note that elevated humidity is just as much of a risk as high temperatures.
  • Breed-specific characteristics like body weight and long or thick fur can cause dogs to be more likely to overheat. Brachycephalic, or short-nosed, breeds struggle to pant effectively as a means to regulate their body temperature.

Recognizing of the signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion will leave you best equipped to treat it before it becomes a medical emergency requiring veterinarian care. If you have any question in your mind on if your dog is overheating, immediately place your dog in a cool, shaded area with sufficient air circulation and offer cool water. Your dog may be experiencing heat exhaustion if he or she has the following signs and symptoms:

  • Fever – A dog’s body temperature is considered abnormal above 103 degrees. Fever can be suspected if a dog’s nose is dry and hot as opposed to wet and cool. Temperatures 106 or above can lead to organ failure and cardiac arrest.
  • Excessive Drooling – Drool that is thicker in consistency and stickier than usual can be a sign of heat exhaustion and dehydration, along with a change in the color of his or her gums. Be wary of bright red or bluish purple gums.
  • Fast Panting – If you notice that your dog is panting faster than normal or appears to have general breathing difficulty, it is likely that your dog is overheating. Be especially concerned with short-nosed breeds.
  • Dehydration – Visible signs of dehydration include loss of elasticity in the skin, weakness, dry or sticky gums, and sunken eyes. For more information reach, preventing dehydration.
  • Rapid Heart Rate – Practice finding your dogs’ pulse when he or she is healthy so you can be prepared to check in the event of an emergency. Place one or two fingers over the femoral artery, located on the depression found in your dogs’ hind leg in the uppermost part. Larger dogs generally have a slower heart rate than smaller dogs. Depending on the size of your dog, a normal heart rate is between 60 and 140 beats per minute.
  • Dizziness – Lack of coordination or a dog that seems to be disoriented may be feeling lightheaded as a result of overheating.
  • Lethargy – Dogs that appear to be weak, having difficulty standing up or walking; or are napping more often than normal could be experiencing heat exhaustion.
  • Collapse or Convulsions – Immediately take your dog to a veterinarian for emergency medical care.

It’s best to prevent heat exhaustion before it becomes dangerous. Here are some tips to keep your sporting dog healthy and cool.

  1. Limit exercise and outdoor activity on excessively hot or humid days. Avoid training during peak hours of heat. Instead, schedule your day to allow for training in the cooler hours of morning or evening.
  2. Provide plenty of breaks in shaded areas or dips into bodies of water, such as a creek, to quickly cool off.
  3. Keep your dog hydrated with unrestricted access to fresh water.
  4. Never leave your dog unsupervised in a car or kennel. Confinement in an area without proper ventilation poses as a serious risk. Dogs left in a hot car are in immediate danger of heat stroke, as the internal temperature of a car can quickly climb at a deadly rate.
  5. Take advantage of one or many of the dog cooling products available, especially if you have a sporting or working dog.

If you’re in the market for dog cooling products, there are many types to choose from to help your dog beat the heat this summer – everything from cooling mats and body wraps to misting fans for your kennel, even kiddie swimming pools. At home, in the field, or on the go, Lion Country Supply has you covered.

In situations such as if your dogs’ kennel is not in an area with air conditioning or if your dog will be in its crate for long periods of time, an investment into a good cooling fan should be prioritized. Crate and kennel cooling fans are an excellent means to protect your dog from scorching heat or inadequate air circulation. Lion Country Supply carries cooling fans and systems from Endless Breeze, Ocean Breeze, Cool Pup, and Ruff Land at a variety of price points.

While transporting your dog in a crate or kennel, ensure that it has ample air flow. Often times, this requires the addition of a crate fan. We recommend either of the Ruff Land Kennel fans, the Turtle Plate Fan or the Kennel Cooling Fan. Both options connect to your vehicle’s 12-volt cigarette lighter plug while also being able to connect to your trailer hitch power connector with an adapter cable. The Ruff Land Kennel Turtle Plate Fan and the Kennel Cooling Fan both offer two fan speeds to provide maximum cooling for your dog or vehicle battery conservation that allows for minimal power draw even when the vehicle is shut off.

Concerned about the temperature of your dogs’ kennel while you’re traveling on hot days? The Garmin Tempe is a wireless temperature sensor that affixes to the inside of the kennel to measure and transmit ambient temperature readings. This device is compatible with Garmin Fenix watch and select Garmin dog tracking and training handhelds.

A great option for at-home outdoor cooling is the Ocean Breeze Cooling System. It uses an evaporative cooling mist to lower the air temperature of the surrounding area, benefiting you and your dog on hot summer days. This complete system comes with a 50-foot water line can be outfitted with up to 10 misting nozzles, depending on your desired coverage area, and installs within minutes to a standard faucet.
The Cool Bed III is an all-in-one dog bed and kennel mat that works to keep your dog from overheating by offering an icy cold water bed, no electricity required. This cooling mat is available in three sizes to get the best fit, but be warned that cooling mats are generally not recommended for destructive dogs.

Staff Tip: We like to tuck ours inside the cover of our LCS Crate Pads when using them in dog boxes.

To keep your dog healthy and prevent the damage that heat stroke is known to cause, owners must be vigilant in monitoring their dogs for signs of overheating, ensuring that they are well-hydrated, and receiving adequate breaks from the heat, especially during warm months. Stay cool!


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