When temperatures begin rising, it’s important to take precautions to keep your pets cool – like scheduling walks in the early morning and checking pavement temperatures before heading out.

Many pet owners don’t realize that pets suffer much more from heat than humans do and can suffer heatstroke after something as harmless as a walk on a hot day.

To help your pet beat the heat in summer, these tips can help you recognize and avoid heatstroke in dogs.

What is heatstroke?

Heatstroke occurs when a pet’s body can’t regulate its internal temperature within a safe range.

Heatstroke is a pet emergency and should be treated immediately. If it’s not treated, it can cause organ damage, internal bleeding, infection or, in severe cases, death.

What causes heatstroke in pets?

“Humans sweat, but dogs and cats don’t. When they cool themselves, it’s through respiratory measures, which is especially difficult to do in hot conditions,” said Dr. Miryam Reems, a critical care veterinarian at BluePearl.

Because pets can’t sweat like we do, they feel the effects of heat more quickly and strongly, especially when exercising or in a hot environment.

“Many people think of heatstroke as being caused by being confined in a space with little or no ventilation, like a hot car, but there are other common ways for pets to have heatstroke,” added Dr. Reems. “It can happen anywhere – even walking or exercising during a warm part of the day can be dangerous and deadly.”

What are the signs of heatstroke in pets?

“There are ways pet owners can prevent overheating from progressing to heatstroke, but they must know the signs and act quickly,” said BluePearl emergency veterinarian Kevin Kelley.

The signs of heatstroke in dogs can include:

What should I do if my dog has heatstroke?

“Heatstroke is extremely dangerous, but it’s also preventable,” said Dr. Kelley. “If you notice your pet is panting heavily, lethargic, or uncoordinated, get them cool quickly. But remember: Even if you cool your pet down, they still may need veterinary care and possibly medication.”

Here are a few immediate things you can do if you suspect your dog is overheating:

How to prevent heatstroke in dogs.

These simple steps can help prevent heatstroke during periods of warm weather:

Tips to help your dog beat the heat.

When it comes to beating heatstroke, “People who recognize symptoms and can react tend to have pets that can do better,” said Dr. Reems. “Any breed, any age pet can get heatstroke, and it can happen within just a few minutes.”

In addition to the ways you can prevent heatstroke, these tips can help your pet avoid overheating in warm weather:

The bottom line.

Remember: The effects of heatstroke are often subtle and not immediately apparent. If you believe your pet is overheating or having heatstroke, bring them to your nearest emergency veterinary hospital for treatment.