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Our Veterinary Blog

6 Signs Your Dog Has Heatstroke

During the hot summer months, the potential for your dog to suffer from heatstroke increases significantly. That’s why it is crucial for you, as a responsible pet parent, to recognize the signs of heatstroke in dogs and learn when it’s time to react fast.

Here are six of the most common signs your dog might be suffering from heatstroke. If you notice these signs, you can use this information to learn when it’s time to see a veterinarian and how you should react depending on the severity of the symptoms, too. If you have any questions, call Lakeland Animal Clinic at (863) 688-3338.

Mild Symptoms of dog heatstroke

These symptoms should be treated by bringing your dog indoors with a fan or air conditioner, providing cool, clean water, and placing cold cloths on their feet to help her regulate their temperature.


Lethargy is a symptom of almost any dog illness or condition. If your dog is lethargic on a hot day, they may simply need to rest. However, you should keep an eye on them for other signs that heatstroke may be occurring.


Panting on a hot day is normal for a dog. This is especially true for dogs that have been very active recently. However, if your dog is panting even when they haven’t been active in the last several minutes, this may be a sign that they are close to heatstroke. Pay close attention to them and respond appropriately to help them cool down fast.

Normal drooling

If your dog is drooling like they normally do on a hot day, this may be a mild symptom of heatstroke. It can also mean they’re just too hot but haven’t yet reached the point of heatstroke. Keep an eye on them.

Moderate Symptoms of dog heatstroke

Moderate symptoms should be treated with the same steps as the mild symptoms, but you should also keep a very close watch on your dog. If the symptoms don’t improve within a few minutes, a vet visit is going to be required.

Rapid breathing

Rapid breathing is more than just panting. It involves the dog’s sides moving in and out very quickly, showing that they are having trouble breathing or are breathing too fast. This symptom usually means they are in pain or their body temperature has gotten too high.

Excessive drooling

You know how much your dog normally drools, even on a hot day. If you think your dog’s drooling has exceeded this normal amount, then they may need to go to the vet. Excessive drooling, especially when the drool is thick, is a symptom of heatstroke.

Severe Symptoms of dog heatstroke

These are extreme symptoms that require an immediate trip to an emergency vet. Even with a timely response, your pet may not survive if they have reached this point of heatstroke. Do not wait before taking them to the vet, and do not try to wait for your regular vet to be available either.

Discolored gums

Your dog’s normal gum color should not change. If their gums have turned any color other than their usual—including black, blue, pale white, or bright red—take them to the vet immediately. This is a sign that they are not getting enough oxygen in their bloodstream.

Rapid heart rate

A rapid heart rate means your dog’s body is overheating. Check their pulse and if it seems like it is too fast or too heavy, then you should take them to the vet immediately without hesitating. Especially when coupled with any of these other symptoms, rapid heart rate can be very dangerous.

Loss of consciousness

The longer the heatstroke continues without proper treatment, the more likely your dog will be to lose consciousness. They may be unable to rouse or they may collapse, but either way, a loss of consciousness means they may die very quickly without prompt vet care.


Seizures are common in dogs, but they are also a part of heatstroke. If your dog has known seizures and shows no other signs of heatstroke, then heatstroke likely isn’t the problem. However, if they have any of the other symptoms listed here or has a seizure without a known seizure condition, they need to see an emergency vet.

Contact us about dog heatstroke

Now that you’ve had a chance to learn more about heatstroke in dogs, you can recognize when your dog is in a crisis situation. However, it’s important to do everything you can to ensure your dog never reaches this point.

Always provide fresh, clean water for your dog. Do not overwork them or let them play too hard on very hot days. Make sure they have access to shade, even outdoors.

And most importantly, never leave a dog unattended in a vehicle for any length of time, even on a day when you don’t think it’s hot enough to cause a problem. If you notice any of the above signs of heatstroke in your dog, call us right away at (863) 688-3338.

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Family is family, whether it has two legs or four. At Lakeland Animal Clinic, we've spent the last 40 years healing and caring for your pets. As a family-operated practice, we know that family is about more than simply being related. Animals give us the ability to develop strong bonds and feel great compassion for a fellow living creature.