Summer is the time of year when many people think of being more active. However, when it comes to our dogs, we need to be careful about not being too active in the summer heat. Walks, hikes, strenuous play, and other high energy activities are best done in the mornings and evenings when it’s cooler. Dogs tend to gravitate toward the shade – or right in front of a fan or air conditioning vent – when it’s hot. For good reason, since they don’t cool down as easily as we do. If your dog is telling you that this mid-day hike in the hot sun is too much, listen to her!

According to Mercola Healthy Pets website, symptoms of heatstroke in your dog include:

  • Heavy panting
  • Excessive thirst
  • Glazed eyes
  • Vomiting and bloody diarrhea
  • Bright or dark red tongue, gums
  • Staggering
  • Elevated body temperature (104ºF and up)
  • Weakness, collapse
  • Increased pulse and heartbeat
  • Seizures
  • Excessive drooling
  • Unconsciousness

When overheated, dogs can quickly suffer critical damage to her brain, heart, liver and nervous system. If your dog does begin to show signs of overheating, get her to a cooler location as quickly as possible. Air conditioning is best, but a fan or even a shady area with a breeze are better than remaining in the hot sun.

Use cool water – not ice cold! – to help cool your dog as well. While drinking water will help, don’t pour water down your dog’s throat if she can’t swallow on her own.

Contact your veterinarian for further measures and to determine if a visit for follow-up care is recommended.

Always take precautions to prevent heatstroke whenever possible. But if you do see signs of overheating, be prepared to act quickly.