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What To Do If You Spot The 6 Signs That A Dog Is Dangerously Overheated

by Rebecca Endicott
Becca is a writer and aspirational dog owner living in NYC.

With summer right around the corner, it’s time for dog lovers everywhere to refresh themselves on what to do if you see a pup overheating.

It might be your own dog — overexerted from playing too hard in the summer sun — or it might be a stranger’s dog, stuck in a bad position like this sweet pooch rescued from a hot car last year.

No matter what, everyone should memorize the medical symptoms that suggest a dog is overheating.

If you know how to spot an overheated dog, you’ll be able to step in and get him the help he needs in a scary situation.

Pooches don’t always realize when they are getting dehydrated, and they often don’t want to upset their people by acting needy or complaining.

That’s why the pups of the world need humans like you to keep an eye out for them, and speak up for them in moments of need!

Scroll through to identify the symptoms and learn how to help an overheated dog.

Photo Credit: Flickr / Banjo 01

How Can A Dog Get Overheated?

How Can A Dog Get Overheated?
Laura Caseley for LittleThings

Under the right circumstances, dogs can get overheated or hyperthermic pretty quickly.

Just like humans, dogs can get overheated from exercise in warm weather, getting too much sun, or from being stuck someplace overly warm.

Dogs don’t sweat nearly as much as their people do. Instead, they pant to help regulate their body temperature, according to the American Kennel Club.

This mechanism works most of the time, but on a really hot day, a pup’s panting may not be able to keep up with the rising heat.

What Are The Signs Of An Overheated Dog?
Sign #1: Excessive Panting

<u>What Are The Signs Of An Overheated Dog?</u><br>Sign #1: Excessive Panting
Laura Caseley for LittleThings

Excessive panting is often the first noticeable sign that a dog is overheating.

Panting is a normal reaction to exercise or slightly warm weather, but if you notice a dog breathing heavily and quickly, it might be time to take steps to help him cool off.

Panting may not work as well on a very hot and humid day.

According to the Humane Society of the United States and veterinarian Dr. Barry Kellogg:

“Animals pant to evaporate moisture from their lungs, which takes heat away from their body. If the humidity is too high, they are unable to cool themselves, and their temperature will skyrocket to dangerous levels — very quickly.”

Sign #2: Dry or Pale Gums

Sign #2: Dry or Pale Gums
Laura Caseley for LittleThings

Pay careful attention if you notice that a dog suddenly has pale or dry gums, or if his tongue and mouth seem dry inside.

These symptoms can be major warning signs of dehydration, according to the Humane Society of Harrisburg.

An overheated dog will lose a lot of water trying to regulate his body temperature, so this is often a sign that a dog is both too warm and in need of water.

Sign #3: Excessive Drooling

Sign #3: Excessive Drooling
Laura Caseley for LittleThings

Drool isn’t necessarily something to worry about; lots of dog breeds, like Newfoundlands, are naturally prone to drool more.

However, the American Kennel Club warns that too much drool, or hyper-salivation, can be a sign of a dog in distress.

The AKC notes that, “Early signs of heatstroke include panting [and] hyper-salivation… Affected dogs become hyperactive and excitable.”

In other words, an overheated dog might act peppy and energetic but still be unwell.

Sign #4: Groaning, Heavy Breaths

Sign #4: Groaning, Heavy Breaths
Laura Caseley for LittleThings

Dogs may not speak like humans do, but they have a rich vocabulary of doggy sounds.

According to Psychology Today, dogs use their voices to communicate almost all of their emotions.

A dog in distress might use a heavy, groaning sound to alert people to his condition and try to solicit help.

A dog panting very heavily might also groan with each breath from the effort.

Sign #5: Glazed Eyes

Sign #5: Glazed Eyes
Laura Caseley for LittleThings

According to the Human Society of the United States, dogs who are experiencing heatstroke might have a glazed look in their eyes, meaning that they might stare straight ahead with their eyes unfocused.

This could be a sign of total exhaustion from trying to fight the heat, or a sign of mental impairment from the excessive heat.

A dog who has been in the heat for a long time might become disoriented and confused, leading to the glazed look.

Sign #6: Confusion And Dizziness

Sign #6: Confusion And Dizziness
Laura Caseley for LittleThings

Dogs who have been exposed to the heat for a long time may begin to show signs of confusion.

A hyperthermic dog might experience hallucinations, or become disoriented and scared.

A dog in this state might be on the brink of more severe symptoms.

According to PetMD, the more severe symptoms of overheating include seizure, irregular heartbeat, and loss of consciousness.

Without help, a dog who progresses to severe symptoms might not survive.

How Can You Help An Overheated Dog?

<u>How Can You Help An Overheated Dog?</u>
Laura Caseley for LittleThings

If you see a dog who seems to be at risk for overheating, take steps immediately to make sure he’s safe.

If it’s not your dog, alert the owner immediately.

If you can’t identify the owner, try to get the dog some shade and water, though be very careful about approaching an unfamiliar dog.

If it’s your own dog, give him water, but keep him from drinking too much right away. Soak clothes in cool water and lay them on your pup.

If your dog is up for it, you can also walk him into a shallow paddling pool or stream to cool off, suggests the Nest.

If your dog has any symptoms of overheating, you should contact your vet right away. If you can, bring your pup in for a checkup immediately.

If the symptoms are advanced and your dog seems to be dangerously sick, go to an animal hospital immediately.

What Should You Do About Overheating Emergencies?

<u>What Should You Do About Overheating Emergencies?</u>
Laura Caseley for LittleThings

A dog should never be left in a hot car, not even for 1 minute.

Within just 5 minutes, a car can become dangerously warm for a dog, and within 20 minutes, the dog may be close to death.

According to PETA, a car can heat to 160 degrees in 10 minutes on a 90 degree day.

If you spot a dog in a hot car, call 911 immediately and get a first responder to come and release the pup from the car.

In some states, it is legal for passerby to break into cars to free trapped dogs, but only use this action as a last resort.

In almost all cases, it’s better to get someone in authority to rescue the dog; first responders have better equipment and better knowledge of the local laws.

Make sure to SHARE this list to help all dog lovers keep the pups around them safe this summer!