Symptoms of Heat Related Illnesses

We all love to get active when the Vancouver rain subsides and the heat takes over. From an early age, we are taught to wear a hat, put on sunscreen, and drink lots of water. But things are a bit different for our canine companions. Check out what Release the Hounds does to keep your dog safe from the sun or 5 ways you can keep your dog cool this summerKnowledge is power and the best way to keep your fur baby safe is to know the signs and symptoms of heat-related illnesses and to catch them early. We’ve put together the most common things to look for this summer.



Heat Stroke

When your dog’s body temperature rises faster than they can release excess heat and it can sometimes lead to multiple organ failure and death. Symptoms include:

  •         Rapid panting
  •         Bright red or pale gums and tongue
  •         Thick, sticky saliva
  •         Lethargy or weakness
  •         Vomiting (sometimes bloody)
  •         Dark, tarry, or bloody diarrhea
  •         Seizures or muscle tremors
  •         shock


A common emergency in which your dog does not have enough water in its body. If not treated immediately it can result in serious injury and even death. Symptoms include:

  •         Loss of elasticity in the skin (when pulled lightly, the skin will not readily come back to its original place)
  •         Dry mouth and sticky gums
  •         Lethargy
  •         Loss of appetite
  •         Thick saliva
  •         Sunken eyes
  •         shock

Paw Pad Burns

Usually caused by walking on hot pavement resulting in pain and discomfort. Left untreated, and without proper paw care, it can become infected. Symptoms include:

  •         Laying down and refusing to walk
  •         Licking or chewing their feet
  •         Discoloration in paw pads
  •         Missing parts of paw pads
  •         Blistering or redness


Did you know, obesity, breed, health, age, and the environment can significantly increase the risk of heat-related illnesses in dogs? The stress of extra weight leaves your dog susceptible to heat-related illnesses by causing unnecessary strain on the heart and regulatory system. Brachycephalic (flat-faced) breeds such as pugs, bulldogs and boxers are not able to release heat through their respiratory systems as well as other dogs can and are more prone to overheating. Other factors such as excessive heat and humidity in the environment or heat intolerance due to poor acclimation can also dramatically increase your dog’s chances of heat-related illnesses.

If your dog is showing any of these symptoms, consult your veterinarian immediately. Prevention is the best treatment, but if caught early enough, these illnesses can be treated. So, pay close attention and make sure you are doing everything you can to keep your pup safe this summer!

Does your dog have symptoms not listed here? They could be from a tick! Click here to learn more.


Written By: Rachelle Biever  CPDT-KA

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