The heat is on! Take steps to avoid heat emergencies

It's hot!  

Make sure you are taking precautions for you and your pets to avoid heat illness and even death while out enjoying the magnificent trails and activities offered in our area.

What are Heat Emergencies?

Heat Cramps = Profuse sweating, fatigue, extreme thirst, muscle cramps

Heat Exhaustion = Headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea/vomit, cool/moist skin

Heat Stroke = Elevated temp. +103 degrees, confusion/Irrational behavior, dry/hot skin, rapid shallow breathing, shock, seizures, unconscious

Risk groups

  • Children
  • Older Adults
  • Obese
  • Individuals who have consumed alcohol the night before
  • Individuals with medical conditions
  • Individuals on medications that make them drowsy or dehydrated 

What to do

  • Get person into shade or cool location
  • Cool person with cool, wet cloths (neck, groin, armpits, head) and fan body
  • Sip cool water, if person is alert
  • For muscle cramps, massage muscles gently, but firmly until relaxed
  • If symptoms worsen, call 911

What NOT to do

  • Do not give anything by mouth if person is vomiting, unable to swallow or unconscious
  • Do not underestimate the seriousness of a heat emergency (especially if in a risk group)

Prevention/Preparation for hike/exercise in heat

  • Know your limitations
  • Hydrate  - begins day prior to hike/exercise, hour before hike, during and after
  • Wear proper clothing, lightweight and light color, protect head, proper shoes
  • Always carry a cell phone and it is best to hike with company
  • Always tell someone where you are hiking and when to plan to return

Heat Emergencies involving Canines

Dogs do not actually sweat. They exchange heat through panting and to a minor degree, through their feet pads. Additionally, our canine friends do not tolerate high environmental temperatures as well as humans do.

Risk groups

The risk groups are much the same as humans: Old, obese, suffer from medical conditions or take medicine. Certain breeds are more susceptible to heat emergencies than other breeds. These include Brachycephalic breeds: Boxers, Bulldogs, Pugs, etc.

Causes of heat emergency in dogs

  • Strenuous exercise in hot, humid weather
  • Elevated temperatures from atmospheric temps and hot surface contact
  • Sidewalk/natural rock surface can radiate very high temps 
  • 90 degree atmospheric temp/ potential surface temp of 135 degrees

Heat emergency in dogs

  • Begins with heavy panting/signs of difficulty breathing
  • Tongue/gums appears bright red with thick saliva
  • Skin elasticity (when pinched, does not snap back)
  • Worsens if dog vomits, becomes unsteady, lethargic, unwilling to move (Core temp in the 104 degree range)
  • Heat Stroke:
    • lips/membranes become blue/gray
    • Rapid on-set collapse, seizure, unconsciousness and death

What to do

  • Immediate cooling of body with water, cool packs to groin, where legs meet the body, neck
  • Remove from heat immediately
  • Get to Veterinarian (Consequences of heat emergency = kidney failure, heart irregularities, other system failures, death)


  • Know your dog’s limitations/abilities
  • Assess the environmental conditions
  • Carry plenty of water for both you and your dog
  • Cool vests and trail booties for dogs are available and are very efficient

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