How to Avoid Your Dog Getting Heatstroke

How to avoid heatstroke

You wouldn’t want them to get heatstroke would you?

This very useful text was posted in Italian on the Facebook page: Adotta Un Cane Dal Canile. I have translate it into English and changed it a little bit. I hope you find it useful, I certainly did.


In summer the most deadly and underestimated danger for our four legged friend is undoubtedly heatstroke. Many dog owners aren’t aware that heatstroke can kill a dog in an instant. To avoid this happening we need to understand how a dog’s physiology works:

The average temperature of a dog is 38.5 °C and for that reason it’s more susceptible than we are to heat stroke.

To lower their temperature when they’re somewhere that’s too hot, dogs can’t sweat like we can. So to lower their temperature they breathe rapidly through their mouth leaving their damp tongue hanging out: this makes the saliva evaporate and thus cool their body. Panting is the main method they have for cooling down.

When it’s very hot, humid and there’s no ventilation, this system can’t work any more and the dog’s temperature inevitably starts to rise. If nothing is done or inadequate treatment is administered, the rising temperature will cause the dog to go into shock and it will then collapse and die in a very short time.


  • The dog is very agitated, much more than normal, restless and anxious.
  • It pants excessively, quickly and is almost gasping for breath because of the increased heart rate.
  • The gums and skin inside the eyes are very obviously red, sometimes violet that can quickly turn to blue as the oxygen in the blood decreases.
  • It starts to become uncoordinated and confused.
  • It may salivate excessively and vomit.
  • Loss of consciousness, coma and death quickly follow.
  • Convulsions and coma happen when the dog is in an advanced stage of heatstroke and immediate intervention is necessary.


  • Move the dog immediately into the shade
  • Bathe it with cool (not cold) water or pure alcohol if there is any available as this helps the dog lose heat quickly thanks to its ability to evaporate quickly.
  • For the same reason, and if any is available, dry ice helps even more.
  • If possible have a fan on. This is better than air conditioning which may cause problems because of the strong drop in temperature it can give.
  • Comfort the dog while cooling it down and call the vet immediately.
  • Reassuring the dog helps avoid stress if you have to put him in the car and he is frightened as this can just make matters worse.
  • You need to calm him as much as possible during the cooling down activities and on the way to the vets.
  • An immediate vets visit is essential. A professional needs to treat the effects of shock, efficiently lower the dog’s temperature, examine the dog throughly to make sure there is no permanent damage and to prescribe the correct treatment.


  • Don’t ever take the dog out (on the lead or – worse -by attaching the lead to a bike) during the hottest period of the day.
  • NEVER shut it in the car, even in the shade with the windows open. That is just not enough to cool him down on a hot day. Keep that uppermost in your mind. If just a few sun rays hit the car it creates a fatal trap.
  • Anyone who sees a dog in a hot car is allowed to call the authorities to save it from a terrible end.
  • During hot summer days it’s a good idea to bathe your dog frequently, using a wet tower, stat at his paws and work your way around his body and head.
  • Make sure he has plenty of water available in a shady, well ventilated spot.
  • Use other means to keep him cool, for example give him an ice cube to lick, let him play with a cotton bone that has been in the freezer or give him a Kong filled with frozen cream cheese.

Make sure you enjoy the hot summer days with your best friend, but never forget that too much heat kills and it is our duty as owners to protect our pets from this danger.

You might like to read about one method I use to keep my dog cool here.

How to Cool a Dog Down in Hot Weather

Lab ZsaZsa wearing her towel

ZsaZsa wearing her towel

Our lab ZsaZsa has always suffered from the heat, despite being born in Italy. Now she is ten, it is even worse and although there has hardly been any hot weather to speak of so far this year,  she still has panting fits.

I have found the best solution for her is to drape her in a towel that has been soaked in cold water and wrung out. She looks rather Mata Hari-ish, but it does seem to cool her instantly and have a very soporific effect, like an instant tranquiliser!

At night I sleep with the windows open and drape her in her towel then turn on a floor standing fan. She is quite capable of shaking the towel off and moving away from the fan if she wants, but I have found she just likes the sensation and crashes out.

Read about the dangers of heatstroke here.

English Speaking Vets

Here is a list of English speaking vets in Italy as recommended by various expats around Italy. If you have any to recommend please contact me and I will add them to the list!

Dottore Massimiliano Musa, Via Pagliette 11/A, Cepagatti, Pescara Tel: 347-912-9691

Dott Valleriani Valeriano
Tel: 0861 592999




Naples: Dr. Carlo Damiani, Via Monterusciello 33H, Monterusciello (NA). Tel:081 524 6522. email:

Dr. Dorothea Friz, Via Mario Tommaso, Castel Volturno. (She also runs a rescue centre called Lega Pro Animale )


Bologna: Dott. Daniel Laino (American vet), Ambulatori Veterinari Associati, Via Caselle 11, San Lazzaro di Savena, Bologna,Italy   tel.  (051) 466503       email:

Dr Ron Levine
Via Friuli, 11,
PN Roveredo In Piano
Tel: 0434 949696

Fiammetta M. Rossi, DVM
Rome (I’m trying to get her contact details)

Via San Sebastiano, 21 – 62028 Sarnano (MC)
Le Marche
Tel: 0733.658374 – 347.9364256
e-mail :

Dott.ssa Angelita Serri
Via Faleriense 36-Passo S. Ginesio-MC
Tel: Tel 349 8653579



Dott Massimo Raviola
Corso Marconi 17
011 6690207


Annarita worked for 10 years as a vet in the UK, so understands the British culture and attitude to animals completely.

Annarita Amodio DVM MRCVS CertVC

Centro Veterinario Therapy Pet

Via Leone Ebreo 21-23

70043 Monopoli, Bari

mobile 3336374610    FB: Therapypet Ambulatorio Veterinario


Dr. Salvatore Musa
Via Tevere n. 13
72019 San Vito dei Normanni (BR)
Tel: 0831 951065 Mob: 347 376 1152


Clinica Veterinaria H24 Firenze

Via Senese 259/b, 50124 Firenze

tel.  055 2322025,  cell. 347 0680987 , email:

Dr. Malcolm Holliday, Via Antonio Nardi, 16
52100 Arezzo AR, Italia
Tel: 0575 352201

Dr Francesco Gallorini, San Silvestro, half way between Castel Fiorentino and  Cortona. Lovely man, good vet, speaks a lot of English.
Tel: 0575 651442

Ambulatorio Veterinario Andreotti – Lucchesi
Dott. Andreotti & Dott. Lucchesi,
55051 Barga (LU)
Tel: 0583 724146

Dr. Orsi,
Clinica Veterinaria.
Valle dei Fiori,
Piazza Mercato, 2,
Pescia 51017
Tel: 0572 476975


50125 Firenze (FI) – 5, v. Cantagalli
tel: 055 2336143, 347 6106693

Dr. Amato John de Paulis
57 Via Giusti – Ferro di Cavallo
Tel: 347 3 326 647



Vicenza:  Dott. Serena Bressan at Sirio Veterinary Clinic, 0444 305543.

Natural Flea Remedies

Although I use Front Line on the animals regularly and you can buy it easily over here in Italy, I really don’t like using chemicals on my pets. So I’ve put together a few natural flea remedies. Please add your own in the comments box and perhaps together we can defeat the little blighters!

 Please notethat you try these at your own risk, use your common sense. I can’t vouch for  their efficacy!

 FOR YOUR HOME (not the pets!)

  • Salt. Simple, cheap and quite
  • effective it basically dries them up. You sprinkle it everywhere a flea 
  • might go (down the backs of settees, cracks in the floor, under pet 
  • bedding and so on.) Leave it there as long as possible – a few days or 
  • longer is ideal. Vacuum up. I have heard it’s a good idea to pulverise the 
  • salt in a coffee grinder, but I couldn’t be bothered!
  • Try leaving a bowl of soapy water – a few drops of washing up liquid – overnight near a lamp in a dark room. (Safety tip – pets, electricity and water DO NOT MIX – so be careful when you try this one! Exclude the animals and small children) The theory is that the fleas are drawn to the light and then throw themselves in the water, get covered in the soap film, sink and drown.
  • Vacuuming. Obvious but regular vacuuming can suck up fleas and their eggs. Remember to get rid of the contents of the hoover bag afterwards,  preferably by burning. However adding salt to the bag will also dry them up.
  • Borax – easily obtained this is a real flea buster as they hate the stuff it fries them up – hooray! Mix it with salt and use on rugs and carpets, in cracks and so on or in the hoover bag. Be careful with exposing curious pets to this and don’t use it for too long.


  • Fleas hate garlic, so try 
  • adding some garlic to your dog’s food as well as some drops of vinegar to 
  • his drinking water. Cider vinegar is best, which is aceto di mele
  • . Don’t try this with cats (the garlic) as it has been known 
  • to cause damage to feline red blood cells.
  • Talking of drinking water, you can try adding a few drops of homeopathic crabapple flower essence (NOT OIL) to your dog’s drinking water. A lot of farmacie in Italy have a homeopathic bit and crab apple is mela salvatica. If you can’t get it where you are you can always try online.
  • Buy one of those plastic spray bottles and fill with a fragrant mix of 50:50 water and cider or white vinegar. Throw in some crushed garlic cloves, a few drops of olive oil and washing up liquid. Shake it up and spray the poor pooch ensuring you avoid sensitive areas like the nose and mouth. I have tried this and it does work, but you may find the smell makes you resort to Front Line again!  
  • A more pleasant smelling alternative is to steep lemons in boiling water and let stand overnight then put in your spray bottle and spray your hound, again avoiding sensitive areas.
  • Obvious but make sure you brush your dog and cat daily as it does get rid of the gritty flea poop and loose hairs and makes them easier to spot.
  • When shampooing make a ring of soap to stop the varmints fleeing (groan) to higher ground. Of course there are flea shampoos you can buy here but for a gentler alternative try  a herbal shampoo with rosemary, bergamot, lavender, citronella, pine, juniper, geranium or geranium. Be careful about the eyes and nose as always when shampooing your dog.

Have you got any favourites? Add the to the comments below!

Bringing Pets into Italy – the Pet Passport


 pet passport For bringing pets into Italy from the EU:

·        Each pet cat, dog or ferret must have its own EU pet passport

·        The animal must be over three months old

·        It must have been vaccinated against rabies at least 21 days before travel

·        Each pet should be microchipped

·        Generally you can only bring five pets into Italy

From the USA or Canada:

·        A valid veterinary Certificate with owner’s details, description of the animal, ID and rabies vaccination

·        Valid rabies vaccination

·        A tattoo or microchip compatible with ISO-11784 standards


The EU Pet Passport (European Pet Passport)

You will need a pet passport for each dog, cat or ferret. This available from your vet (and only from a vet.) It’s identical for all European countries and is valid for the life of the animal. It contains obligatory information about your pet and proof of up to date rabies vaccination (other details may also be included depending on the country) as well as the pet’s id number.

For travel within the EU (except for Finland, Ireland, Sweden, Malta and the UK) the pet needs to be

  • Microchipped 
  • Vaccinated against rabies

Special conditions for Finland, Ireland, Malta, Sweden and the United Kingdom:

As well as vaccination, an antibody titration (which tests if the vaccine has been effective) needs to be carried out by an approved lab before travelling with the pet to Ireland, Malta, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

An anti-tapeworm (echinococcosis) treatment is required to enter Finland, Ireland, Malta, Sweden and the UK and an anti-tick treatment to enter Ireland, Malta and the UK.

For going back to the UK The Pet Travel Scheme (PETS) applies, allowing qualifying domestic pets to travel to and from the UK without undergoing quarantine.


 (You can check the UK information on )

Once you get one, the EU Pet Passport is valid for travel between Europe and Madeira, the Azores, the Canaries and countries with equivalent rabies status including San Marino, Vatican City and Switzerland.