Beware of excessive panting in dogs who can suffer from heatstroke in hot temperatures | Village Vets
dog heatstroke,

Dogs can get heatstroke and even sun burn as temperatures soar. 


With the rise in dog ownership over the past year and with temperatures expected to rise in the coming days, both new and seasoned dog owners are being warned of the dangers summer weather poses to our four-legged friends.

As you enjoy a day in the sun at your local park, beach, or even your back garden, remember that dogs can suffer from heatstroke, and dogs with white or thin coats are also at risk of sunburn.

“Dogs will keep walking for you, but they still might suffer from heatstroke,” said Aoife Caulfield, Head of Veterinary Services with Village Vets, Dublin.

“They won’t tell you they need to stop, so the things you need to be looking out for are excessive panting, if they become uncoordinated or weak, or sometimes they will collapse, and in that case you need to cool them down and seek veterinary assistance” she added.

Other signs of heatstroke to watch out for include loss of vision, vomiting, diarrhoea, seizures, coma or bleeding.

Niamh Curran Kelly, Veterinary and Welfare Manager, Dogs Trust Ireland, advises: "If you can't get to your vet immediately and have to wait for transport, use a water spray to gently cool your dog's external skin temperature.

"You should also offer them small amounts of room-temperature water to help bring their temperature down further. While driving to the vet, drive with the windows down or air-conditioning on – this should help to further reduce your dog’s core temperature.”

Special care should be taken with young puppies, older dogs, overweight dogs, or dogs with flatter faces who are more prone to suffering in the heat. A short faced dog will already have problems with their breathing because of the shape of their face, and consequently has half the capability of an average dog to deal with high temperatures.

When it comes to walking your dog, try taking them out in the morning or evening, to avoid midday sun and sizzling tarmac. The advice is that if you can’t hold your hand against tarmac ground for seven seconds, or stand on it barefoot yourself, then it’s too hot for your dog to walk on.

At home, make sure your dog has a cool shady corner to chill out in. You can leave a damp towel out for them to lie on to keep them even cooler, or even a paddling pool. Try adding some ice cubes to their water, or freezing toys and treats in ice blocks, to give them some extra chilled hydration.

Dog owners are also being reminded not to leave their pets alone in a car. Even a few minutes in a hot car can be fatal for a dog. Some 22C inside a car can rise to 33C in only 10 minutes, even if the car is parked in the shade with windows down.

If you see a dog alone in a car, and you are worried about heatstroke, and you cannot find the owner around, contact the local Garda Station and stay with the dog until they arrive. Once the dog has been safely removed from the car, seek veterinary attention immediately.

Written by:

Ellen O'Regan at

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Heatstroke- Emergency First Aid 

For the best chance of survival, pets suffering from heatstroke urgently need to have their body temperature lowered gradually.

  • Move your pet to a shaded and cool area
  • Immediately pour cool (not cold to avoid shock) water over them. If possible, you can also use wet towels or place them in the breeze of a fan
  • Allow your pet to drink small amounts of cool water
  • Continue to pour cool water over them until their breathing starts to settle, but not too much that they start shivering
  • Once they are cool, take them to the nearest vet as a matter of urgency.