Colorado Hiking with Your Dog: How to Avoid K9 Heatstroke! 

Colorado Hiking with Your Dog: How to Avoid K9 Heatstroke!

For the ultimate mountain and dog lover, hiking season is here! 

 But first, learn some lifesaving information about K9 heat exhaustion and deadly heatstroke. You just might save your dog’s life!  

Without a doubt, we have the best trails and mountain views in the Rocky Mountain State of Colorado! But to enjoy the safest experiences, it’s important to effectively prepare before heading out!  

Did you know that even in the cooler temperatures of the mountains, your dog can still be challenged with heat stress/exhaustion; and if left unaddressed, can lead to life-threatening heatstroke?  

It’s true. 

Remember, most dogs don’t have an “off” switch especially if they are having the time of their life!  Dogs are known to push themselves and ignore things like pain, dehydration and overheating. So, it’s especially important when hiking far away from emergency veterinarian care to proactively monitor your dog for any negative symptoms of overheating and slow down or stop to let your dog cool down. Also, whenever possible, hike along sources of fresh water.  

In addition, always check the weather report before heading out. Early morning or late evenings are the safest times for you and your dog to hit the trails. 

It Begins with Heat Exhaustion or Stress  

When a dog begins to overheat, this is referred to as heat exhaustion or stress. Symptoms include:

    • Diarrhea
    • Nausea
    • Vomiting
    • Hot Skin

    • Twitching muscles
    • Rapid panting and lots of drooling
    • Reddening skin inside the ears

During these early stages, it’s critical to take immediate action to reduce your dog’s body temperature. If the body’s temperature is not reduced, your dog can quickly face deadly heatstroke (and life-threatening risks) once their body temperature reaches over 106 degrees.  

“Dogs who have suffered from heatstroke once increase their risk of doing so again, so steps to prevent it must be taken.” (  

Addressing Heat Exhaustion 

As soon as you see any of the above symptoms, get your dog to a cooler area and offer plenty of fresh water. Do NOT immerse your dog in very cold water (or ice) as this is counter-productive for cooling down naturally and may also trigger other life-threatening conditions for your dog. Splashing cool water can help them stop from overheating.  

If heat exhaustion continues unabated, dangerous symptoms of heatstroke will begin to exhibit.   

The Deadly Symptoms of Heatstroke 

  • Excessive panting
  • Difficulty breathing 
  • Thick, sticky saliva 
  • Fever 
  • Diarrhea 
  • Shock 

  • Bright red tongue and red/pale gums 
  • Weaknessdizziness and lack of coordination 
  • Vomiting (which may include blood) 
  • Depression & lethargy 
  • Coma 

With any of these symptoms, time is of the essence and immediate veterinarian attention is required. 

The Dangerous Consequences of Heatstroke 

  • Organ Failure (including the kidneys, liver, lungs or heart) 
  • Seizures 
  • Brain Damage 
  • Hemorrhages 
  • Blindness 
  • Convulsions 
  • Death

Dogs Most Susceptible to Overheating 

  • Dogs with shorter snouts: 
    • Pugs 
    • English/French Bulldogs 
    • Pekingese 
    • Boston Terriers  
    • Boxers 
    • Shih Tzus 
    • Saint Bernards 
  • Dogs challenged with: 
    • Heart disease 
    • Obesity 
    • Breathing Problems 
    • Senior Dogs

Avoid K9 Overheating and DO NOT …  

  1. Muzzle your dog as it inhibits their ability to pant and release body heat. 
  2. Completely immerse your dog in cold water as this stops the natural release of excess heat. 
  3. Force an overheated dog to drink water as they may inhale and choke on it. 

With some careful preparation and common sense, you and your K9 trail buddy can enjoy a wonderful and safe hiking experience in the mountains of Colorado! 

Consider taking a Pet First Aid & CPR Class to identify emergencies like heatstroke! 

Need help with dog walking this summer?  

Our professional dog walkers always safely walk your leashed K9 in the summer heat! 

Well-trained and experienced, bonded and insured, certified professionals who ensure your pet’s ultimate safety and well-being! 

(Available in the Littleton and Morrison Colorado areas!)  

Need other pet care services? Distinctive Pet Care can help!
Pet Grooming
Daily Pet Visits
Pet Hospice Care
Pet & House Sitting
Puppy Playtime & Potty Breaks

To get started with our professional and insured pet care services,   just call 303-904-0484 or visit our website!  

Additional Reading: 

  1. Ways to Protect Your Dog from Summer Heat and Heat Stroke 
  2. Shih Tzu Summer Care 
  3. How to Keep Your Dog Cool in the Summer 
  4. Colorado Animal Rescue: Hiking in the Heat with Your Dog 
  5. REI: Hiking or Backpacking with Your Dog