Heat Illnesses in Dogs: A Hiker’s Guide

Heat Illnesses in Dogs

As the sun-soaked days of summer invite outdoor enthusiasts to explore hiking trails and embark on adventures, many dog owners are eager to bring their furry companions along for the journey. While hiking with your dog can be an incredibly rewarding experience, it’s important to be aware of the potential dangers of heat illnesses that can affect our four-legged friends. In this guide, we will dive into the various heat-related conditions that dogs can experience while hiking and provide insights into what to look for to ensure your dog’s safety. Also, we have included a references section so you can learn more about heat illnesses in dogs.

Understanding Heat Illnesses in Dogs

  1. Heat Exhaustion: Dogs are susceptible to heat exhaustion when they are exposed to high temperatures and excessive physical activity. Common signs include heavy panting, lethargy, rapid breathing, drooling, and a bright red tongue. In severe cases, your dog might collapse or vomit.
  2. Heat Stroke: Heat stroke is a more severe condition that can occur when a dog’s body temperature rises dangerously high. Symptoms include a body temperature of 104°F or higher, rapid heartbeat, dizziness, confusion, vomiting, diarrhea, and even seizures. Heat stroke is a medical emergency that requires immediate attention.
  3. Dehydration: Dehydration can sneak up on dogs quickly during hikes. Watch for signs like sticky gums, dry nose, sunken eyes, and reduced skin elasticity. Ensuring your dog has access to fresh water at all times is crucial.

What to Look for While Hiking

  1. Monitor Your Dog’s Behavior: Keep a close eye on your dog’s behavior throughout the hike. If you notice excessive panting, slowing down, or seeking shade, it’s time to take a break.
  2. Stay Hydrated: Carry enough water for both you and your dog. Make regular stops for your dog to drink, and be mindful of their hydration levels.
  3. Time Your Hike: Plan your hikes during cooler times of the day, such as early morning or late afternoon. Avoid hiking during peak heat hours to reduce the risk of heat-related illnesses.
  4. Provide Shade: Look for shaded areas during your hike where your dog can rest and cool down. A collapsible canopy or a dog-friendly cooling vest can provide additional relief.
  5. Know Your Dog’s Limits: Just like humans, dogs have different tolerance levels for heat. Short-snouted breeds and older dogs are more susceptible to heat-related issues, so adjust your hiking plans accordingly.


  1. American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). (2021). “Hot Weather Safety.” https://www.avma.org/resources-tools/pet-owners/petcare/hot-weather-safety
  2. American Kennel Club (AKC). (2021). “Heat Stroke and Dehydration in Dogs: What Every Dog Owner Should Know.” https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/heat-stroke-and-dehydration-in-dogs/
  3. The Humane Society of the United States. (n.d.). “Hot Weather Tips to Keep Your Dog Safe.” https://www.humanesociety.org/resources/hot-weather-tips-keep-your-dog-safe
  4. Pet Poison Helpline. (2021). “Heat Stroke in Dogs.” https://www.petpoisonhelpline.com/blog/heat-stroke-in-dogs/
  5. Image by Kathleen Handrich from Pixabay

Conclusion: Heat Illnesses in Dogs

Hiking with your dog can be a wonderful bonding experience, but ensuring their safety should always be a top priority. By familiarizing yourself with the signs of heat-related illnesses and taking proactive measures (i.e., take water with you) to prevent them, you can create unforgettable memories on the trails while keeping your furry friend healthy and happy. Remember, a well-prepared hike is a safe hike for both you and your canine companion.

Reading More

Check out our recommendations on the best hiking harnesses for dogs.

Join Our Mailing List!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *