How to Cool Down a Dog to Prevent Heat Stroke

Posted by Pekin Insurance on Jun 11, 2018

Learn how to cool down a dog so you and your best friend can enjoy warm, sunny days without the worry of heat stroke.

It’s the first warm day of the season. The sun is shining, and it seems like an ideal time to take your dog for a long walk. As the blue skies and fresh air revive your spirit, you notice your dog is slowing down and panting heavily. She seems confused when you talk to her, and soon she lies down, refusing to move. There’s a good chance your dog is exhibiting the early signs of heatstroke, and you have to do something about it right away.

If you don’t already know how to cool down a dog that’s suffering from heat exhaustion, now is the time to learn. Heat exhaustion can quickly lead to heatstroke, a potentially deadly condition that can also cause neurological problems and organ failure.


How Hot Is Too Hot

The average temperature for a dog is 101 to 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit. To maintain that body temperature in warm conditions, a dog will pant, using evaporation to help stay cool. Panting, by itself, is a necessary adaptation to hot weather, just as humans sweat. Your dog may also try to keep cool by lying on a tile floor or in a puddle.

When it gets too hot, however, your dog’s body can’t keep up with the need to cool itself. How hot is that? Like us humans, what is tolerable for one dog might be too much for another. Cold climate dogs, such as huskies, and flat-faced dogs, like pugs, have a harder time dissipating body heat. Humidity also plays a role as high humidity limits the evaporative cooling process. 



How to Cool Down a Dog:
 keep them from getting too hot in the first place

Never leave a dog (or any pet) in a hot car. In as little as 20 minutes, even with the windows cracked, the temperature inside your vehicle can be 30 degrees higher than the outside temperature.

  • Limit exercise or try to exercise your pet early in the day, before it gets too hot. As your dog runs and plays, her internal temperature is rising. Combined with the heat of the day, that can make it difficult or even impossible for your dog to cool down on her own.
  • Bring water along for your dog when you go on walks.
  • Give your dog easy access to shade and water. If your dog is outside for any length of time, make sure she has a tree or hedges to rest under and always ensure there is a full bowl of fresh water to drink.
  • Use a wading pool to let your dog cool off.
  • Don’t shave your dog. For many dogs, this reduces their ability to deflect heat, and it also exposes them to the possibility of sunburn.
  • A dog can get heatstroke inside, too. An indoor area with too much direct sunlight or insufficient air flow can become too hot for your dog to cool off.
  • Heatstroke is a risk any time of year—even in winter. Unseasonably warm days and high levels of activity can combine to create a dangerous situation for your dog.



How to Cool Down a Dog:
 knowing how could save their life

Despite your best efforts in trying to keep your dog cool, there are other factors (such as other underlying medical conditions) that could lead to heatstroke. Recognizing the signs of heat exhaustion and heatstroke is important.

Signs of heat exhaustion include:
  • Slowing down
  • Excessive panting
  • Increased heart rate
Left untreated, heat exhaustion can quickly turn into heatstroke. Signs of heatstroke include:
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Bright red gums (turning pale or grey as the condition progresses)
  • Disorientation
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Excess or thick drool
  • Lethargy
  • Fever
You can also take your dog’s temperature, but the visible symptoms are usually enough to indicate a problem. If you notice these symptoms, call your vet right away and take steps to help your dog cool down.
  • Move your dog to an air-conditioned space if possible.
  • Place your dog in a cool bath (not cold since the cold water will constrict blood vessels and make it harder for heat to escape).
  • Put cool, damp towels around your dog’s belly and neck.
  • Place a fan in front of your damp dog to help cool her.

The sooner you can cool your dog and get her to the vet, the higher the chances of recovery are. Even if your dog seems to have recovered, it’s still important to get to your veterinarian as heatstroke-related conditions can still arise, including kidney and liver failure and seizures.


Hopefully, you never have to face this scary situation, but if you do, the right pet insurance can help cover your medical expenses. Contact your Pekin Insurance agent today to find out more about pet insurance.



Subscribe to our Blog