How to Treat an Overheated Dog

Nordic breed dogs have a heavy fur coat that makes them prone to overheating in hot weather.
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Heat and humidity can quickly become dangerous to dogs. Dogs do not sweat as humans do; they remove the heat from their bodies by panting. If dogs have a thick fur coat, they may have difficulty cooling themselves. Overheating can become life-threatening if it's not treated immediately. Treating early signs of heat stress will lessen chances of heatstroke and death.

Treating An Overheated Dog

Step 1

Dogs with short muzzles cannot dissipate heat from their bodies as efficiently as those with longer muzzles.
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Watch your dog for signs of overheating during hot weather. Dogs having difficulty with high temperatures may rapidly pant, salivate, stagger, vomit or lose consciousness. If you see these signs, immediately move your dog to a cooler area, preferably with a fan. Dogs with short muzzles or heavy fur coats may show signs of overheating sooner than other dogs.

Step 2

Take your dog's temperature with a rectal thermometer. A dog's normal temperature is 101.5 degrees Fahrenheit. Moderate overheating happens at 103 to 106 degrees, and severe overheating occurs over 106 degrees. Call your veterinarian or pet emergency center and report the signs your dog is exhibiting, along with his temperature. The veterinarian should be able to determine if your dog needs emergency care.

Step 3

Decrease your dog's temperature by placing cool, wet towels over your dog's neck, under his armpits and between his back legs. Also, you can wet his ear flaps and paw pads with cool water. If you are outdoors, a pond or stream can be used to cool your dog.

Step 4

Hunting dogs may not stop hunting when they become dangerously hot.
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Offer your dog fresh, cool water to drink. Do not force water into his mouth because he may aspirate it into his lungs. If he does not want to drink, you can wet his tongue with the water. Dogs that hunt and retrieve should be given rest and water breaks often to prevent overheating.

Step 5

Transport your overheated dog to your veterinarian. Call ahead to alert your veterinarian that you’re on the way, so he can be ready to treat your dog when you arrive. Your dog may need to receive oxygen, fluids or other treatments. Seizures and cardiac arrest may occur with severe overheating.


  • Do not use ice or ice-cold water to cool your dog.


  • If you don't see any response from your dog after 10 to 15 minutes of treatment, take him to the veterinarian immediately.

Items You Will Need

  • Fan
  • Rectal thermometer
  • Towels


About the Author

Based in Michigan, Keri Gardner has been writing scientific journal articles since 1998. Her articles have appeared in such journals as "Disability and Rehabilitation" and "Journal of Orthopaedic Research." She holds a Master of Science in comparative medicine and integrative biology from Michigan State University.

Photo Credits

  • chow chow breed dog image by nextrecord from