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What to do if a dog is overheating

Heatstroke happens when a dog’s ability to regulate its body temperature becomes overwhelmed and the dog overheats. When the dog’s temperature rises above 40°C, irreversible changes such as brain damage and organ failure start to occur.

Click here to learn more about the risk factors and signs of heatstroke in dogs, and how you can prevent it.

Read on to learn more about administering First Aid for canine heatstroke:

Transport the dog to a vet ASAP

Start cooling IMMEDIATELY

  • Move them to a cooler area (in the shade, indoors).

  • Use cool (not iced) water - tap water is perfect.

  • Submerge them, being careful to keep their head out of the water (especially if they are weak or losing consciousness).

  • Pour, spray or sponge the water over them (focus on less hairy areas like the neck, underside of the belly, and thighs).

  • Position the dog near a fan, or switch on the air-conditioning if you have it.

  • If the dog is conscious and able to swallow - offer them a drink of cool (not ice cold) water.

  • Do NOT: Force feed them or allow them to drink excessive amounts (see water poisoning)

  • If you have a thermometer, monitor the dog’s temperature as they can start to become hypothermic (too cold). Stop cooling when their temperature drops to around 39.5°C

  • Remove collars, harnesses or muzzles that might restrict their ability to pant.

  • Lie them on top of wet towels but do NOT cover them. The movement of air is essential for evaporation and heat loss.

Will the dog make it?

Fatality rates reported vary from 14-50%, meaning between 1 in 2 and 1 in 7 affected dogs die from this condition.

Affected dogs need intensive nursing and treatment, but those that survive the first 24 hours, have a very good chance of making a full recovery.

Early whole-body cooling and prompt veterinary intervention have been identified as the two major factors which influence a dog’s chances of recovery from heatstroke.

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