With summer just around the corner, you may be excited to let your dog spend a lot more time in your yard. But if your dog is left outside in the heat even with access to shade or fresh water, it is still at risk for heat exhaustion. This is a very dangerous and possibly life-threatening condition that needs immediate care from a veterinarian. You should know the signs of heat exhaustion so you know when it is time for an emergency vet visit.
One of the first things you will probably notice with your dog when it is suffering from heat exhaustion is a lot of excessive panting. Dogs don't have sweat glands, so when they get hot, they need to pant in order to cool off their bodies and avoid illness. You should know by now what their normal panting is and when it seems excessive. Your dog will likely be panting faster and more heavily, also showing obvious signs of discomfort in addition to the panting. You might even hear the dog making a whimpering sound while it is panting.
Mouth and Gum Changes
When your dog starts to pant, pay close attention to its mouth, particularly with its gums and saliva. With the excessive panting, it is common to also notice increased salivation, where it seems to drip from the dog's mouth during panting. Look at this saliva to see if it seems like it is the normal texture. If the saliva seems to be thick or sticky, it might be that the dog is dehydrated, which may have led to the heat exhaustion. Take a look in the dog's mouth and its gums. If they seem extremely pale or bright red, that is another thing to be concerned about. Also contact a veterinary hospital if you notice a bright red tongue on your dog, as that can indicate a fever.
Weakness or Illness
Following these initial signs, your dog might start to become weak, where it can barely walk or even hold its head up. If your dog is panting and refuses to move, it might be too weak to do so. This is a major warning sign that you need emergency assistance. You should also look for signs that your dog is dizzy. If your dog has these other signs in addition to vomiting or diarrhea, or a reduced appetite, contact your vet right away.
When your dog shows signs of heat exhaustion, you should try to get it to drink water and move it to shade as soon as you can. Even if your dog has water and shelter outdoors, make sure you bring him or her inside on particularly hot days. As you cool down your dog, you should be contacting your vet for the next steps.