6 Symptoms of Dog Heatstroke

Are you familiar with heatstroke? Do you know what this condition looks like in a dog? How risky is heatstroke, and what are some of the signs and symptoms you should be on the lookout for?

dog heat stroke milwaukee, wi

Our urgent care animal hospital in Milwaukee is familiar with heatstroke, and we want to make sure our community of pet parents understand what to look out for in the hot months. In this article you will find a quick but thorough list of the most common symptoms of heatstroke. With the help of this information, you can learn how to recognize this serious and often fatal condition in dogs, and you’ll know when you need to respond with a trip to the urgent care or emergency vet as well.

Mild Symptoms

Excessive Panting

One of the first signs of mild heatstroke is excessive panting. Dogs who are overheated, even just a little bit, will begin panting as a way to cool themselves off. However, when heatstroke is occurring, this panting will become extreme and may be much more serious than you’ve ever seen from your dog before.

If your dog is only panting excessively with no other symptoms, bring them indoors and allow them to rest in a dark, cool room with plenty of water. Place cool cloths on their paws, abdomen and the back of their neck to help them cool down.

Excessive Drooling

Excessive drooling typically goes along with excessive panting in most dogs, but not always. If you notice these symptoms together, the treatment is the same for excessive panting. However, you should keep a close eye on your dog to make sure the condition doesn’t progress, as it can worsen quickly.

You know your dog best. Consider how much they drool normally to better understand whether or not they are drooling excessively. If your dog’s behavior is out of the ordinary and persists, please contact our urgent care veterinarians for medical advice.

Moderate Symptoms

Increase Respiratory Effort (Heaving Sides)

Increase respiratory effort may or may not be seen along with panting and drooling. Most of the time, this means that your dog is struggling to breathe or is breathing very quickly. You should not normally be able to see your dog’s sides moving when they breathes, except very gently.

This symptom indicates that your dog is dealing with a serious, often acute issue. Whatever the underlying cause, struggling to breathe is a major concern that should be treated by a vet right away. Keep your dog as cool as possible until you can get them to an emergency or urgent care animal hospital.

Elevated Heart Rate

An elevated heart rate typically goes along with moderate levels of heatstroke. Heatstroke itself may cause your dog’s heart rate to increase, and dehydration from drooling and panting may do the same. As a result, you may notice that your dog’s heart is racing or beating erratically when you touch their chest.

If your dog’s heart rate is elevated along with other symptoms on this list, take them to the urgent care or emergency vet immediately. This is a sign that the heatstroke is worsening very quickly and needs to be treated right away.

Severe Symptoms


Seizures are a severe, late-stage symptom of heatstroke. If your dog’s heatstroke is severe enough that they are experiencing seizures, you should consider this an emergency and take life saving measures for your pet.

Seizures may look like twitching and shaking, but they can also look like loss of motor control. Additionally, some dogs may simply stare off into the distance when having a seizure, rather than showing many physical signs of the condition.

Loss of Consciousness

Finally, a loss of consciousness means that a dog is in the final stage of heatstroke. If your dog has been showing other signs of heatstroke and suddenly loses consciousness, they need to be seen immediately by an urgent care or emergency vet. When dogs reach this point of heatstroke, it is potentially fatal and they need to be evaluated immediately.

It is important to do everything you can to prevent your dog from reaching this stage of heatstroke. Do not allow your dog to remain unattended in a vehicle, even on a mild day, and do not encourage them to overexert herself outdoors on a hot day.

Possible Treatment for Dog Heat Stroke

If your dog is exhibiting mild symptoms of heatstroke only, you may be able to treat the problem at home by providing them with cool, fresh water and a cool, dark place to rest. However, if your dog has progressed to moderate or even severe symptoms, don’t hesitate. Go to the urgent care or emergency vet right away.

Dogs in the severe stages of heatstroke will not survive without veterinary intervention. Even with veterinary assistance, dogs with advanced heatstroke may succumb. However, with prompt emergency vet care, pets who are suffering from heatstroke have the best possible chances at recovering from the condition while minimizing lasting organ damage.

If your dog is showing signs of heatstroke, please reach out to our Milwaukee, WI, urgent care vets immediately at (262) 226-2055.