Pet Heatstroke: How to Avoid It and Deal With It When It Happens

Keeping your furry friends cool is more important than ever!

Photography: Shutterstock

With the scorching summer heat across the country, it’s vital to keep your pets safe from heatstroke. Heatstroke in pets can lead to several health complications, such as comas, seizures, acute kidney injuries, and other organ failures due to tissue injuries or even death. 

 While we humans have sweat glands on nearly every part of our body to help us regulate our temperature, cats and dogs only have these sweat glands on specific locations of their bodies. Cats only have sweat glands on their chin, lips, paws, and skin around the anus, while dogs have them on their paw pads.

This is why cats and dogs cannot solely rely on sweating and use other methods to keep themselves cool. Cats groom themselves since the excess saliva cools their skin once it evaporates and sleep during the hot day, and do their activities at night. Meanwhile, dogs usually pant and lie down on cold surfaces. Unfortunately, these methods may be insufficient during hot and dry months and may lead to a rise in core body temperature. That’s why it’s important that we humans do our part to help them avoid heatstroke.


Avoid exercising your pets when it’s hot. Walk your pets in the early morning or at night, as these times have lower temperatures. 

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Ensure that your pets are in a well-ventilated area. Keep your pets inside your home. If they stay outside in the garage, then make sure to place them under the shade. 

Make sure your pets have access to water at all times. Constantly fill their water bowls to keep them hydrated. 

Do not leave your pets in the car. The temperature in your vehicle can rise very quickly and can lead to death. 

Be aware of the signs and symptoms of heatstroke:

  • Drooling 

  • Panting 

  • Red tongue 

  • Either very pale or bright red gums  

  • Fast heart rate 

  • Vomiting

  • Diarrhea 

  • Delirium 

  • Lethargy 

  • Dizziness 

  • Seizures 

  • Muscle tremors 

  • Little or no urine 

  • Lying down or collapsing 

  • Unconsciousness

What to do if your pets are showing symptoms of heatstroke

Speed is of utmost importance once you find your fur baby exhibiting any of those mentioned above. Here are things you should immediately do:


1. Transfer your pets to a cooler environment. 

2. Spray cool water onto your pets’ fur and skin, then direct a fan towards their bodies.

3. Wet the area around your pets, but do not use cold water or ice as this may make things worse. Do not wrap a wet towel around your pets as it may trap the heat.

4. Give your pet water to drink.

5. Take your pet to the nearest vet immediately. 

Sources: Animal Emergency Service, American Kennel Club, PetMD, NCBI, RSPCA

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