Signs your dog has heat exhaustion

May 29, 2022 | 3-MIN READ

Signs your dog has heat exhaustion

Sat in Stanley Plaza undecided as to what this week’s blog post should be about, as a Scot living in Hong Kong, I was fearful that I might melt in the morning sun. Hong Kong summer is well and truly back, and sweating standing still quickly becomes par for the course. Dogs however don’t have the luxury of sweating. It therefore seems as good a time as any to touch on a regular topic in Hong Kong, as to the best ways of keeping your dog cool in summer.

Dog overheating

First and foremost now that it is hotter than Tom Hardy with a rescue dog, it is important to walk your dog in the cooler parts of the day. Early morning and evening  would certainly be advised if you are looking to go on a long walk. Aside from this, regardless of time of day, it is wise to choose routes with ample shade, and ensure you have access to water. I am not saying make sure you have your Buddy Bites portable bowl on you, but I’m not not saying it. Hikes such as the 8 Immortals that are heavily exposed we would seriously suggest avoiding this time of year. I did it without Whisky (my dog) in February, and had a crisis myself, so I have no issues advising against it.

Whilst dogs have sweat glands in the pads of their feet, and ears, they rely heavily bringing hot blood closer to the surface through vasodilation (widening of blood vessels). The cute tongue out move is the most common trait. They therefore rely on external cooling, and in the humidity, this is no easy task. One obvious fix is water. Think Labrador bolting into the water at a beach. However regardless of access to water we would advise against the midday sun, particularly given the lack of shade at beaches.

Dog drinking water bowl

Hong Kong is becoming increasingly more pet friendly, so if you have an active dog that has an aversion to heat; Huskey, Malamute etc, thankfully there are some great indoor options now where you can still make sure your Apple Watch doesn’t tell you that you’re being lazy, whilst staying in air con. If you haven’t been to The Mills yet, we’d put this first on the list, although, with IFC, D2 Place, The Pulse, the options are growing!

Being careful is the best plan of attack, however it is also important to be able to spot the signs of heat exhaustion as it can lead to heat stroke, as well as being prepared as to what action to take.




-Panting (Excessively)




-Unresponsive to calls/ unfocussed

-Fast or irregular heartbeat


What to do if you spot these signs?

The first thing to do is seek somewhere cool. Ideally aircon, but if out on a hike, find a shaded, ideally breezy area. If safe to do so, it is wise to remove collar, or anything that might be adding to the problem. Then use water to cool them down. Put water on their ears and paws in particular if you are running low on water. Whilst ice cold water may seem like a good idea, it can induce shock so be careful with it, or try to use cool water.

There are some knock on effects from heat stroke that may not be immediately apparent so if you feel they have been exposed to it, as ever we would advise seeking advice from your vet. Better safe than sorry.

Puppy tongue out

As most know, certain breeds are more susceptible to heat stroke. For the most part dogs with long/ thick fur, or short-nosed breed. Alongside this, overweight dogs are more susceptible to heat stroke.

Please be conscious of this advice all the time rather than just on hikes. The SPCA gets an alarming number of calls relating to dogs left in cars without aircon on. If you have a horrible boss who ruthlessly forces you to go into the office now that we are able to, always make sure there is some sort of air ventilation. If you don’t want to run your aircon non-stop, fans can help, but it is always worth testing whilst you are there.

Okay, I think about time I pour some water on my ears, but hopefully there was some useful information in there. Stay safe out there, and if in doubt, shade yourself with a Buddy Bites umbrella…. Had to get a plug in there somewhere.