Extreme temperatures pose dangers to pets: Beware of heat stroke

"The best thing is to try to exercise your dog either early in the morning or later at night when it’s coolest."

FRED TANNEAU / AFP via Getty Images, File

Pets can get heat stroke too, and with the expected heat wave this week, it’s important to know how to prevent it and recognize the signs if it does happen, according to veterinarians.

Heat stroke is a life-threatening condition that occurs when a pet’s body temperature reaches above 104 or 105 degrees Fahrenheit, which can cause damage to body tissues, organs, and the central nervous system, said Camille Alander-Rivera, a vet at Bond Vet-Seaport.

Alander-Rivera said “smushy face” dog breeds are most susceptible — bulldogs, French bulldogs, pugs — but chow chows, greyhounds, Cavalier King Charles spaniels, and golden retrievers are also quite vulnerable. In addition to breed predispositions, pre-existing medical conditions like being overweight, having heart disease, or an upper airway disease puts pets more at risk, she said.


Bond Vet has seen an increased number of heat stroke cases in recent weeks. Though cats and other pets are equally susceptible to heat stroke, dogs most often get it because they go outside and, therefore, are more likely to be exposed to heat, sun, and humidity.

“The best thing is to try to exercise your dog either early in the morning or later at night when it’s coolest, after the sun’s gone down or before the sun’s come up, especially in the city because the sidewalks can get quite hot and obviously the hot sun can increase the air temperature,” Alander-Rivera said.

She also recommended keeping dogs in the shade, providing cold water, and if they like water, swimming is a great way to exercise them while keeping them cool. 

“Warning signs of heat stroke are … lethargy, extreme salivation, excessive panting, sometimes they might notice that their dog’s tongue or gums are super red, sometimes even kind of purple,” Alander-Rivera said. “Things like vomiting and diarrhea can happen, increased drinking, decreased urine production despite drinking more water are also quite common.” 

Seizure, collapse, disorientation, and unconsciousness are signs of the heat stroke being more advanced. If a pet is presenting signs of heat stroke, they should be brought to the vet as soon as possible, where they can be actively cooled and treated accordingly. 


This discussion has ended. Please join elsewhere on