Do you know the signs of heatstroke in dogs? Here’s what to look out for, according to the experts

Golden retriever at the beach
(Image credit: Getty Images)

As we move into the summer months, many of us are looking forward to spending more time outdoors with our friends and families — and, of course, our pups. 

But, while your dog might relish the chance to be outside more often, whether they’re in the yard, at the dog park, or at the beach, it’s important to make sure that everyone stays safe. It’s common knowledge that we shouldn’t leave dogs in hot cars, but it’s important to keep a careful eye on our pups while they’re outside in the heat, too, whether they’re playing with the best dog toys or just lying around.

Just like humans, dogs can get heatstroke. But, fortunately, Dr. Corinne Wigfall, an expert veterinarian with Petsure, is on hand to offer some advice. 

First of all, how can we notice heatstroke in dogs? Dr. Wigfall says, “The main signs include heavy panting, an increased breathing rate, open mouth breathing or panting, purple or blue gums, collapse, lethargy, or vomiting.”

She urges dog parents to get their pups to the vet straight away if any heatstroke symptoms are spotted. If you’re concerned about heatstroke, however, there are things that you can do in the meantime. Start to cool your dog down by getting them in the shade or on a cool floor, getting water on their coat with a sponge, or getting them near a fan or air-conditioning. 

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Dr. Wigfall has also offered five tips to help keep our pups cool in the summer, as follows:

1. Avoid the midday sun: When is it too hot to walk your dog? If you’re going out with your dog, try to avoid the hottest part of the day, which is generally from late morning to mid-afternoon. Check the sidewalk, too, because if it’s too hot it could burn your dog’s paws. 

2. Always carry water: It’s important to carry water for your pup anyway, but it’s particularly vital when it’s hot. Get a portable dog water bottle and a collapsible bowl to keep your pup hydrated no matter where you are.

3. Let them make a splash: “Many dogs love to play in water and this is also a great way to keep cool,” explains Dr. Wigfall. You may decide to set up a small pool or a sprinkler in the garden, but remember to keep an eye on your pup!

4. Never leave them alone in the car: As mentioned above, it’s unsafe to leave your dog in a hot car — even if you’re only running into the store for two minutes. And, try to keep travel to a minimum during the hottest part of the day. Take breaks if it’s a long journey, and keep the windows open or use the air-conditioning so your pup stays cooler.

5. Make sure they’ve got a shady spot: “No matter what you’ve got planned, make sure your four-legged friend has access to a shaded area,” says Dr. Wigfall. “For example, take a tent or umbrella with you if you’re headed on a trip to the beach.”

If you want to know how to cool down a dog, you’re in the right place. Follow the advice here to keep your dog cool, and you can look forward to a great summer!

Adam England
Freelance Writer

Adam is a freelance journalist covering pets, lifestyle, health and culture, and he has six years' experience in journalism. He was senior editor at, and has written for The Independent, GoodToKnow and Healthline

He's also spent the last few years studying towards undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in journalism. While a cat person at heart, he's often visiting his parents' golden retriever, and when he's not writing about everything pets he's probably drinking coffee, visiting a cat cafe, or listening to live music.