Is Your Pet Overheating?

Dogs and cats have a normal resting temperature between 99.5 and 102.5 (103 for cats), but they can still overheat outside just as easily as a person.  In some cases, animals may be more susceptible to the heat because of their hair coats, age, and body condition.  Some dogs may continue to work/play outside despite a dangerously high core body temperature.  These pets may appear normal to their owners at a glance.  Here is what to look out for:

  • Rapid wide mouth panting that does not slow down once out of the heat
  • Bright red gums or pale white gums
  • Diarrhea or vomiting
  • Depression or weakness or lethargy (not responding to your call, acting like they can’t hear you, etc.)
  • Dragging paws or keeping head very low or stumbling


If you think your pet is overheating, remove them from the heat as quickly as possible.  You can take their temperature rectally with a normal thermometer.  DO NOT submerse your pet in cold water, this can cause hypothermia and shock!

Here are steps you can take if your pet’s temperature is around 104.0:

  • Encourage them to lie down in a cool area with air conditioning
  • Wipe rubbing alcohol on their paws
  • Place a fan near them
  • Place an ice pack on the inside of their hind legs and/or around their neck
  • Encourage them to drink water and chew on ice cubes
  • Stop cooling measures once your pet reaches 103.5
  • Call your veterinarian if your pet does not recover fully in ten to 15 minutes


Take your pet to the Emergency Center immediately if:

  • Temperature is 104.5 or higher
  • Vomiting blood or blood in diarrhea
  • Urine is color of coffee or bright red
  • Difficulty breathing or turns blue
  • Refuses to eat normally
  • Does not recover fully even if temperature quickly returns to normal
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