Imagine not being able to shed your winter clothes on a hot summer day, and your only means of cooling off was by panting. Dogs and cats have little choice when it comes to keeping cool in summer heat. Recognizing the signs of heatstroke will allow for prompt treatment; and time is of the essence when treating this condition.
Signs of heat stroke include (but are not limited to): body temperatures of 104-110F degrees, excessive panting, dark or bright red tongue and gums, staggering, stupor, seizures, bloody diarrhea or vomiting, coma, death.
Short-nosed breeds, such as Bulldogs and Pugs, large heavy-coated breeds, and those dogs with heart or respiratory problems are more at risk for heat stroke.
If you suspect heat stroke in your pet, seek veterinary attention immediately! Use cool water, not ice water, to cool your pet. (Very cold water will cause constriction of the blood vessels and impede cooling.) Do not aid cooling below 103 F degrees - some animals can actually get HYPOthermic, too cold. Offer ice cubes for the animal to lick on until you can reach your veterinarian.
Just because your animal is cooled and "appears" OK, do NOT assume everything is fine. Internal organs such as liver, kidneys, brain, etc., are affected by the body temperature elevation, and blood tests and veterinary examination are needed to assess this.
Tips to prevent heat stroke
Unlike humans, animals can't change their wardrobe or turn on the air conditioning like humans do to keep comfortable. Follow these common sense tips to prevent a heat-related pet emergency.
• Be aware of ways that your pet could accidentally be caught without shade - is your pet on a tether and could potentially get caught out in the full sun? Will the shade be available all day? While the shelter provides shade, is it hotter inside the shelter? If possible, utilize shade from trees in addition to the dog house; assuring that there is sufficient shade all day long.
• If your pet is left indoors, will the house stay cool through the heat of the day? Basement access will provide a naturally cool area to keep your pet comfortable.
• For indoor or outdoor animals, a cool water "bath" before leaving for work will provide additional cooling for your pet. Or try an outdoor kiddy pool.
• Is fresh, cool water available at all times? Can your pet spill the water source? Consider installing an automatic pet waterer.
• Plan exercise and outdoor activities in the relative coolness of morning and evening time. Be sure to bring along fresh water or a collapsible drinking bowl to allow your pet to get a cool drink when needed.
• NEVER leave your pet in the car, even it it is only for a "quick errand"! This is very dangerous, even on days that are only mildly warm. If you see a pet locked in a car, please call local animal authorities immediately, you may save a life!
Just because we live in Alaska, does not mean your pet can't get heat stroke. I saw someone rushing their dog into the hospital last summer after being left out in the car for I don't know how long. The dog looked comatose. I'm not sure if it survived or not. Please don't take the chance. Be kind to your best furry friend.
(most of this info was found on about.com Pet section)