Keeping your dog hydrated during the heat will help with pet heat diseases that often happen in the summer. It’s hot, it’s sticky, and all you want to do is hide inside with the air conditioning or jump into an ice cold pool. Summer in Tennessee is not for the faint of heart, and if humans are feeling the effects of extreme heat, you can be sure our pets are also experiencing it. Because of the differences in the way our pets’ bodies handle the hot weather, they’re at greater risk for certain heat-related ailments; keeping an eye on them during the hottest part of the year is essential.

Let’s take a moment to learn more about pet heat diseases, including how to prevent and recognize them.

Heat Stroke

Heat stroke is defined as a life-threatening elevation in body temperature, and it’s the most dangerous of all pet heat diseases. Heat stroke usually occurs in warm weather, and it can lead to multiple organ failure and death if left untreated. Signs your pet may be experiencing heat stroke or heat exhaustion include:

  • Excessive panting
  • Drooling
  • Blueish gray or bright red gums
  • Thick, sticky saliva
  • Loss of coordination
  • Weakness
  • Vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Collapse
  • Loss of consciousness

If you notice any of these symptoms, act quickly. Move your pet to a cool/shady spot immediately, and offer water to drink. Drape wet, cool (but not cold) towels over your pet’s neck, abdomen, and legs. Give us a call for further instructions.


Just like with humans, pets can quickly become dehydrated in warm weather. Besides making a pet feel unwell, dehydration can lead to more serious problems if not corrected. Making sure your pet has access to fresh water at all times, including during walks and other activities, is key to avoiding dehydration.

Skin Fold Pyoderma

Skin fold pyoderma is a bacterial infection found between folds of skin due to the increased heat and moisture content found there. Also known as “hot spots,” these infections are similar to the heat rashes experienced by some humans. They occur more frequently in dog breeds with naturally occurring skin folds and in overweight or obese pets. Skin fold pyoderma can typically be treated with topical and/or oral medication.

Preventing Pet Heat Diseases

  • Leaving pets in parked vehicles is the number one cause of heat-related deaths among pets. Never leave your pet in a parked car, even in the shade with the windows rolled down, as temperatures can reach deadly levels within minutes.
  • While outside, make sure your pet has access to shade and cool, fresh water at all times. Move your pet indoors where there’s a fan or AC during the hottest part of the day.
  • Limit walks and other outdoor exercise to the early morning or evening hours when the temperature is cooler.
  • Brush your pet daily, and inspect the skin for hot spots, parasites, and other abnormalities. Bathe them regularly using a gentle, pet-safe shampoo and conditioner (talk with your veterinarian about how often you should bathe your pet).
  • Although not technically a disease, paw pad injuries from walking on hot pavement or other surfaces are a serious risk to pets during the summertime. Keep your pet in shaded or grassy areas whenever possible; check paw pads for injury after each walk.

For additional questions about pet heat diseases, please contact the team at Volunteer Veterinary Hospital. Stay cool!