How to Tell if Your Pet is Overheated – and What to Do About It

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We’re really lucky that our pets are hardy animals that can survive in most of the same conditions we can. Both dogs and cats are remarkably resilient creatures! But that doesn’t mean we can ignore their needs when the weather starts heating up. Most people already know the risk of leaving a pet in a car and have learned the ways around it, but that’s hardly the only time your pet will get hot. Keeping your pet cool and comfortable is one of the best ways you can take care of them.

Today we’ll look at the various ways your pets can show that they’re feeling the summer heat, and how you can prevent their distress or injury. Since dogs and cats are different in terms of their activity levels and disposition when it comes to hot weather, we’ll split it up into two sections. Read on for more!


While cats are “desert animals,” they do actually suffer heatstroke just as badly as we do. When a cat’s body temperature gets too high, they can suffer organ failure, seizures, and even death. While it’s normal to see dogs panting, a cat panting is already a sign that they’re feeling too hot and are in distress. Redness of the tongue and mouth can also be an indicator that they’re feeling hot, and this is most easily noticeable if they’ve started panting. Cats will also sweat when they’re overheating, but only through their foot pads. It’s uncommon, but once you notice it then it’s time to get your kitty somewhere they can cool off.

Low energy is another symptom of overheating, but this is more difficult to gauge as cats spend a lot of time napping. If your cat is acting suspiciously lethargic during times when they would normally be excited, such as mealtime, it may be a good idea to take their temperature to get ahead of the situation.

If your cat starts vomiting or defecating liquid stool, then you need to get them immediate veterinary care. This is one of the signs of advanced heatstroke, and getting them proper treatment as soon as possible is vital to their survival.

Cats normally have a body temperature of 101 Fahrenheit, and anything above 102.5 is already considered hyperthermia. Below 105 Fahrenheit they’ll likely be okay after basic treatment, but above that it’s a good idea to get them to the vet. Kittens in particular are more sensitive to heat than adult cats, so watch out if you’ve got a new litter this summer.


Cats will generally try to conserve energy and laze around when it’s hot, but dogs typically have no problems with overexerting themselves when the temperatures rise. This makes them more susceptible to overheating simply by virtue of being too active. While cats will only pant when they’re hot, dogs pant nearly all the time—but excessive panting is an indication that your dogs is starting to feel hot. If you’re just going for an easy stroll or lounging around and your dog is already panting like they’ve taken a run around the park, then it’s too hot for them.

Like cats, dogs will also present with changes in gum and tongue color—pale at first as they get dehydrated, then darker red as heatstroke sets in. Drooling can also happen, as dogs will salivate in response to distress. Disorientation and weakness are another sign of overheating, and this is when you need to start getting your pup somewhere cool.

Vomiting and diarrhea are, just like in the case of cats, a bad sign that your dog is in need of immediate attention and medical care. Seizures, unconsciousness, and even death can happen if the dog continues to go untreated.

A dog’s normal body temperature should be around 101 to 102.5 Fahrenheit—above 104 is already serious trouble for dogs, and would require a trip to the vet to prevent any chance of injury or permanent damage.

What you can do

If you suspect your pet is becoming overheated, your first course of action should be to get them somewhere cooler. A dark room or shaded area is good, and a box fan or air conditioning to cool them down is even better.

Second, fresh drinking water will do a lot to keep your pet cool. If they’ve been feeling hot for a long time they’ll likely gulp it down immediately—it’s better to give them small amounts with some time in between drinks so that they don’t overfill themselves with water.

Third, if necessary, force them to rest (in the case of overactive dogs). Cats will usually have no problem lying down and napping once they’re in a cooler area and they feel less stressed.

Lastly, if you’ve done all previous measures and they still feel too hot, you can apply cool water (not ice cold) to the groin area and bring your pet to a vet as soon as you can.

Being mindful of your pet’s mood and disposition during the summer can help ensure that they’re comfortable and happy. If you can’t be at home during the hottest hours of the day, we can take care of your pets for you! Our Pet Nannies are all experts in taking care of pets in the summer and will be sure to keep your pets cool. If you have a busy schedule, give us a call and we will make sure your pets get all the attention they need. Contact us at 734-981-6108 or use our on-line contact form and we will be in touch with you shortly.

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