Signs of Dehydration and Heatstroke in Dogs


In the hot summer months, just running after a ball can leave Sparky out of breath and very lethargic. A dog’s body is not very good a cooling down; they only release heat through the limited number of sweat glands between their toes and by panting. This means pups can easily become overheated, which can lead to more serious problems such as dehydration, heatstroke, and collapsing. Here are important signs to be aware of that may indicate an overheated or dehydrated dog.

*If the pup in your care is exhibiting some or all of these symptoms, please contact a pet care professional immediately.

Symptoms of Dehydration


  • Skin: Has a lack of elasticity. Pinch the skin on their neck and see how quickly it bounces back. If the skin is dry and slow to recover, this may be a sign of dehydration.
  • Gums: Are sticky or dry. When a dog hasn’t had enough water, his saliva becomes increasingly sticky and thick. This sticky saliva can build up on the sides of his mouth and your dog may have trouble swallowing it.
  • Eyes: Sunken
  • Urine: Dark, concentrated in color. Without enough liquids in the body, your dog will not pee as often and their urine may appear very dark.
  • Demeanor: Very lethargic, visibly tired.
  • Stomach: Vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite
  • Feet: Wobbly and unsteady on feet.
  • Lungs: Excessive panting.

When a dog gets very dehydrated, it can quickly turn into a full on heatstroke. If your dog has quite a few of the following symptoms, take him to a vet immediately. A vet will be able to help rehydrate your dog intravenously. Do not force your dog to drink water when he is dehydrated because if he is overheated or experiencing a heat stroke, it is possible he will have difficulty swallowing.

Symptoms of a Heatstroke

  • Rapid, heavy panting or hyperventilation
  • Staring, glassy eyes
  • Anxious expression and refusal to obey commands
  • Fever accompanied by bright red mucous membranes on the eyes and gums
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Vomiting and/or diarrhea
  • Weakness or collapse
  • Seizures

Written by Priscilla Liang


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