Summer is here and despite a cool breeze every now and then, the heat is unavoidable. Do you know how to tell if there are signs of overheating or heat stroke in your pet? You may have noticed a decrease in your own energy as the heat rises, or general exhaustion from being in the heat for too long. The same is true for your pets, although the effects of heat are harder to recognize in them. Even when preventative measures are taken, it is important to monitor our active puppy or daring cat, who insists on exploring the great outdoors.  Our team here at Anasazi Animal Clinic in Gilbert has put together this informative guide on signs of overheating and heat stroke in pets to keep your fur babies safe in the midst of the summer heat in Arizona. 

Overheating vs Heat Stroke in Pets

You may have noticed that overheating and heat stroke are often thought of as synonymous with each other. However, they are not the same. Overheating (or heat exhaustion) is the stage before heat stroke in which the body is showing signs that it is too hot and measures should be taken to prevent further harm. Heatstroke (or hyperthermia) results in heat injury to tissue. Both are serious and need your attention, but if your pet has a heat stroke it is important to get immediate medical attention. 

Signs of overheating

  • Rapid panting
  • Dehydration / excessive thirst
  • Increased heartbeat
  • Elevated body temperature
  • Disorientation
  • Changes in gum and/or tongue color


Signs of a heat stroke 

  • Excessive panting
  • Excessive drooling
  • Collapse / Coma
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Abnormal behavior
  • Stumbling
  • Muscle twitching / Seizures 


Specific Signs in Cats

Cats will exhibit the same above signs, however, the signs may be more subtle. They may also exhibit behaviors not seen in dogs. These can include behaviors such as anxiety, pacing, and bleeding from the nose. 

What the Vet Can Do

If there is any concern that your pet is unable to cool themselves down even with your intervention, do not hesitate to take them to the vet. A trained veterinarian can check your pet’s temperature and vitals and assess if emergency treatment is needed. These can include intravenous fluids (drip), oxygen, blood tests, cooling treatments, and ongoing monitoring and treatment. 

Give us a Call 

Most importantly, if you are concerned your pet is showing signs of heat stroke or overheating, take action immediately. Please don’t hesitate to call us for any concerns regarding your pet. Contact our team at Anasazi Animal Clinic in Gilbert online or by email at We are happy to answer any questions you may have about staying safe in the summer heat.


Image by thomasrendleman from Pixabay (6/2020)