Prevent Pet Heatstroke

The summer season in North Carolina is a gorgeous time of year. But while the higher temperature can be pleasant, it can be problematic for your pet.

dog playing frisbee with owner in a field during summer who could be at risk of a pet heatstroke

How Does Heatstroke Occur?

Heatstroke can occur if a dog or cat can't properly regulate its core temperature and thus experiences an excessive increase in body temperature (hyperthermia). If this happens to your pet and is not treated immediately, organ failure or even death may occur. 

Animals who are very young, very old, or who have pre-existing health conditions are particularly at risk, but even healthy animals can experience heatstroke, especially in the summer. At Hilltop Animal Hospital, our team wants every pet owner to understand the warning signs of heatstroke in animals and how to prevent your pet from suffering from this dangerous and potentially lethal condition. 

Symptoms of Heatstroke in Pets

If your animal exhibits any of the following signs or symptoms this summer, it could be suffering from heatstroke: 

  • Decreased urination
  • Excessive panting or drooling
  • Bloody vomit or stool 
  • Lethargy and difficulty walking (your pet may look "wobbly")
  • Tremors, seizures, and/or shakiness
  • Sudden changes in mental status or behavior

5 Tips to Prevent Heatstroke

1. Never, ever, EVER leave your pet unattended in a car. 

Just 10 minutes in a car on even a mild summer day is like being left in an oven—literally. Under no circumstances should your pet be left alone in a locked car. 

2. Don't exercise or walk your pet during the hottest parts of the day.

Aside from overheating, your pet may end up burning its paws on hot sidewalks and asphalt!

3. Make sure your pet always has access to fresh clean water and shade. 

Pets know their bodies and will do what they can to cool themselves—assuming that they have the opportunity to do so. Never leave your pet unattended or tethered outside on hot days, and always make sure they have somewhere cool to rest and drink water when they need it. 

4. Know the signs and symptoms of heatstroke. 

If you see any of the symptoms mentioned above, call your vet right away for guidance. You can also help cool your pet down by wrapping the animal in a cool damp towel or blanket. Don't give your pet ice or freezing cold water, as this can shock the animal's system.

5. Schedule your pet's routine wellness exam.

Part of protecting your pet from the heat requires that your pet has all its individual health needs met. Call our Fuquay Varina vet staff to schedule your pet's routine wellness exam. 

Are you concerned that your pet is showing signs of heatstroke?

Contact our office immediately at (919) 567-9700. Dr. Gibbs and the Hilltop Animal Hospital team has the experience and skills necessary to keep your animal as safe and as healthy as possible all summer long. Call now


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  • "The best. Dr Scotty Gibbs always takes the time to comfort our dogs and us. Have gone there for years. Would not want to go anywhre else"
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