Keep Your Pets Safe From Heatstroke

| June 17, 2024

Toronto Humane Society Provides Essential Tips for Pet Safety During Heatwaves!

TORONTO, ON. – June 17, 2024 – With Environment Canada issuing heat warnings for Toronto, Toronto Humane Society has shared crucial tips to keep pets from overheating.

Daytime highs throughout much of the week are predicted to soar to between 30 and 35 degrees Celsius, with humidex values climbing to a sweltering 40 to 45. This intense heat, combined with the high humidity, poses significant health risks, prompting heat warnings. Overheating can lead to heatstroke, causing severe health issues such as organ damage and brain injury.

“Pets are at risk of overheating if they exercise vigorously in hot weather, lack shade, are in poorly ventilated spaces, or don’t have adequate access to water. The most dangerous situation is being left in a hot car, where temperatures can rise quickly, often with tragic outcomes. These tips aim to help pet parents keep their furry friends safe during heatwaves,” says Dr. Linda Jacobson, BVSc, MMedVet(Med), PhD, Director, Shelter Medicine Advancement at Toronto Humane Society.

Who is Most at Risk for Heatstroke?

Brachycephalic breeds, such as English and French bulldogs and pugs, are particularly vulnerable to heatstroke due to their compromised airways. Flat-faced cat breeds like Persians also struggle with heat but are less likely to overexert themselves outdoors.

Other high-risk dogs include golden retrievers, Labrador retrievers, and chow chows. Young male dogs are prone to exertion-induced heatstroke, while older dogs with respiratory issues can overheat due to high environmental temperatures. Additional risk factors include obesity, long hair coats, heart and lung conditions, and dehydration.

Labradors and some other breeds can suffer from “exercise-induced collapse,” a genetic condition that causes overheating and muscle weakness at temperatures that wouldn’t affect other dogs. More information on this condition can be found here.

Recognizing and Managing Heatstroke

Early signs of heatstroke include excessive panting, drooling, exhaustion, and weakness. Severe symptoms like seizures, collapse, or unconsciousness are life-threatening emergencies.

Immediate management involves moving the pet to a cooler place and actively cooling them down. In cases of severe symptoms, wet the pet’s coat and get them to a veterinary clinic immediately. Quick intervention can save lives, as heatstroke can progress rapidly.

Preventing Heatstroke:

  • Provide regular moderate exercise and maintain healthy body weights.
  • Keep pets cool in hot weather, ideally indoors during heatwaves.
  • Limit exercise to early morning or evening hours.
  • Avoid walking on hot asphalt to prevent paw burns.
  • Ensure pets have plenty of water, ice cubes, and wet their coats if they seem hot.
  • Consider clipping dense, long coats to help pets stay cool.
  • Share pet-safe frozen treats, such as all-natural ice cream, popsicles, frozen peanut butter in Kongs, or refreshing fruits

About Toronto Humane Society
Toronto Humane Society’s mission is to improve the lives of animals. The organization excels in all ways an animal shelter should, with industry-leading shelter care, veterinary services, animal training and behaviour consultations. Toronto Humane Society believes in the importance of the human-animal bond, finds new homes for thousands of animals and helps keep families together.

Toronto Humane Society is more than an animal shelter. They are an educational resource and support system, a leading voice in animal welfare and accessible care. The organization is also a centre of excellence, a space where best practices and boundary-pushing knowledge meet with unyielding optimism and a love for animals to create something special. Toronto Humane Society is like no other. For more information, visit

For more information, or to arrange an interview please contact Lucas Solowey at or call 416-392-2273 ext. 2196