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Overheated Dogs: Tips to Avoid Dehydration and Signs to Watch for

June 15th, 2016 by Cherished Companions Animal Clinic

Benji is at risk of becoming an overheated dog due to all his running on a hot day!

As we head into the hot days of our Colorado summer, it’s a great time to chat about overheated dogs.

Our Castle Rock vets want to share tips on how to keep your dog hydrated and happy.

That way, you and your pup can enjoy these warm days to the fullest!

(Worried your dog may be overheated? If you live in or near Castle Rock, Colorado, call us at 303-688-3757.)

What causes overheated dogs

We see two common causes of overheated dogs at our Castle Rock veterinary clinic:

  1. Extreme activity on very warm days.
  2. Long, hot car rides without air conditioning.

Tip! If you’re going to be out on a hike or taking a car ride without air conditioning, make sure you’re frequently giving your dog water — at least every hour.

In addition, if you’re out being active, make sure you encourage your dog to periodically rest. (Sometimes, dogs need that encouragement from their humans!)

It’s helpful to understand how dogs cool off

Dogs don’t sweat like humans.

Rather, they sweat through panting. They also sweat through the pads of their feet.

When dogs are panting, they lose moisture and heat.

While panting helps them cool down, it also can lead to dehydration.

A small white Cockapoo dog pants as it takes a rest from a hike.

Signs of a dehydrated dog

You may notice your furry friend is:

  • Panting heavily… and can’t seem to stop
  • Acting lethargic… and doesn’t want to continue your current activity

In addition, if you look at your dog’s nose, mouth and gums, they may look dry, instead of wet.

And if your dog is really dehydrated, his or her eyeballs may sink in a little bit.

What to do for a dehydrated dog

If you believe your dog is overheated and dehydrated, you should do several things right away:

  • Encourage your dog to drink water
  • Wrap your pup’s paws in ice packs
  • Wrap your dog in a towel that’s been dipped in cold water

Dehydrated dog drinking from water bottle on hot day

Visit a veterinarian immediately if:

  • Your dog isn’t drinking water. (Overheated dogs can feel nauseous and may not want to drink.)
  • Or in extreme cases, your dog has passed out.

It’s critical for a veterinarian to administer fluids and take the appropriate action as soon as possible.

Keep in mind, hot days aren’t limited to summer…

Dog overheating and dehydration can take place during other seasons too.

Several years ago, you may remember seeing news stories about hunters in Nebraska. They took their dogs out hunting on an unseasonably hot autumn day. The guides didn’t realize their dogs were overheating. And the dogs didn’t want to stop the excitement of the hunt.

The result? The dogs became quite ill from heat stroke.

A little awareness goes a long way in keeping your dog healthy!

Buster, the dog, stands on a mountain top looking over a skyline panting on a hot summer day.

Where to learn more about dog dehydration and overheating

Check out the helpful infographic below from Murdoch University in Australia.

(Click the image to view it full-size.)

Pet Heat Stroke Infographic

Infographic source: Murdoch University

The American Kennel Club also has a helpful article on dog dehydration and overheating.


Tips from a Castle Rock veterinarian: 8 tips to keep your dog safe & happy in Castle Rock


Cherished Companions Animal Clinic is a veterinary clinic in Castle Rock, Colorado. Specializing in the care of cats and dogs, our goal is to help you and your pet feel more comfortable, keeping your stress to a minimum.

This article is intended to provide general guidance on dog dehydration and overheating. If you have specific questions or concerns, please contact your local veterinarian. (If you live in or around Castle Rock, we welcome your call: 303-688-3757.)

© 2016, Cherished Companions Animal Clinic

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