Dear Tabby,

Now that it’s mid-August and really getting hot, I’m worried about our dogs overheating while on walks or at the dog park. We have long-haired dogs, so I know that they get really hot in the summer. What are some signs to watch out for to keep them from getting overheated?

Overheated in The Heights

Dear Overheated,

So far, we’ve had a rainy summer and lots of clouds that have kept the temperatures down. However, now that it’s August, this is traditionally the time of the year when the heat really cranks up in Houston. I’m sure you know that dogs should be kept indoors when possible, or--at the very least--given access to ample shade and lots of water to drink, if kept outdoors during the summer in Houston. Heatstroke can kill a dog quickly, but it’s also very preventable and has some tell-tale signs that allow for plenty of warning to help your dog.

Here are some signs your dog might be suffering from heatstroke:

Rapid heart rate and excessive panting

A fast heartbeat and excessive panting are a danger sign in dogs. You might also notice that your dog is dizzy. An increased heart rate is your dog’s heart’s effort to regulate internal temperatures and lots of panting is your dog’s body’s way of trying to regulate body temps.

Bright red gums

Take a gander at your dog’s mouth. If his gums are bright red this could be a sign of heat exhaustion. Your dog’s mouth is his “cooling center,” and increased blood flow to the mouth and gums is your dog’s way of trying to regulate his body temperature.


If your dog can’t seem to get up off the floor after a hot walk, or, even worse, collapses, take immediate action. Vets recommend cooling him off using cool, wet towels (never submerge him in an ice bath). Call your vet immediately because, if you’re seeing this reaction from your dog, he might be in serious trouble.


Dogs who are overheated will often have diarrhea. If your dog is exhibiting some of the other signs of heat exhaustion, plus diarrhea, call your vet immediately.

To keep your dog cool and healthy this summer, make sure he has cooling centers to keep him cool. This can be access to misters, a fan or a kiddie pool. You will also need to be diligent about keeping cool, clean, fresh water available to your dog to drink during the day. Also, if you can’t keep your dog in the house during the hottest parts of the day, please make sure he has shady places to hang out in your yard. Our pets are our best friends, so we have to make sure we treat them as such. August in Houston is not for the faint of heart and it’s during this time of the year that we need to take some extra precautions to keep our pets healthy--it’s the cool thing to do!

Do you have a question for Tabby? Email her at deartabby

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