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Recognizing the Signs of Heatstroke in Your Chihuahua

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Chihuahuas sunning themselves on a beach

Hey, dog lovers – it’s hot, hot, hot! Summer is a fantastic time of year to head outdoors with your four-pawed pal, and although our pint-sized family members are usually game for some fun in the sun, it’s important to remember that Chihuahuas, like any dog breed, can easily overheat in warm or extremely humid weather.

Let’s take a look at how to recognize overheating when it happens to your pooch, what to do to help, and finally when it’s time to head to the vet.

In warmer weather, even simple activities like a walk in the park or a car ride can quickly become dangerous for your pup. The sun shining directly on your Chihuahua can increase their body temperature quickly, especially if they’re exercising, and it’s much harder for dogs to release body heat – they can only cool themselves through panting or sweating from their paw pads.

In extreme heat conditions, our friends can progress from being simply overheated to developing heat stroke faster than we might think, so it’s vital for us to be able to recognize the first signs of overheating.

Signs that your Chihuahua is getting too hot:

  • An increased rate of panting
  • Big tongue’ syndrome – your Chi’s tongue seems abnormally long or wide
  • Their body feels hot to the touch
  • Lots of drooling
  • They seem excessively thirsty

At this point, your Chi needs a break immediately, some shade or (even better) air conditioning, a drink of cool water, and rest for a few hours while you keep an eye on them.

Signs of heat exhaustion/heat stroke are:

  • Heavy breathing or having trouble breathing
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness, stumbling, or collapse
  • Seizures
  • Body temperature above 104 degrees
  • Dark red tongue or gums
  • Loss of Consciousness

If your Chihuahua is showing any of these signs, they need help right away, so head to your veterinarian or the nearest pet emergency clinic! Offer them cool (not cold) water to drink if they can swallow, and place cold moist towels or washcloths on their belly, armpits, groin, and neck area to cool them down. If you have a thermometer in your pet’s first aid kit, gently take your pup’s rectal temperature – a temperature over 104 degrees is a serious emergency.

Help your little dog to beat the heat by:

  • Walking them during the cooler times of day,  with rest stops and drink breaks
  • Providing shade from the intense sun when outside
  • Giving them fun frozen treats like cubes of frozen canned food to chew on
  • Keeping their bowl filled with fresh cool water
  • Leaving them at home when we’re running errands – hot cars can cause your pup to become dangerously overheated in mere minutes!

Have you ever had any experiences with your Chihuahua (or any dog) getting overheated? We’d love to hear about it. Leave a comment and let us know what happened and how you handled it.

Be sure to check out our other post on sunburn and dogs.

woman kneeling in front of a dog outside in snow

Paula Simons


This article has been fact-checked and approved by Dr. Paula Simons DVM. You can read more about her on our About page.

female vet holding fuzzy dog

Dr. Sara Ochoa


This article has been fact-checked and approved by Dr. Sara Ochoa DVM. You can read more about her on our About page.

Mirella Maybee

Wednesday 13th of July 2022

Thanks for your advice, my poor little Ted is collapsed on my bed but I’ve put a cold’ish wet towel along is under belly and wet his paws and head and he’s slowly getting better.


Wednesday 13th of July 2022

Oh I hope he's okay. If he doesn't perk back up within an hour or so, call your vet.

Àngie Wilkins

Tuesday 1st of September 2020

Is it typical for my chi to not eat or drink while overheated??


Tuesday 1st of September 2020

It's typical to not want to eat but your chi should still want to drink water. In fact they really should be taking sips of water to re-hydrate.

Stephanie Cassano

Sunday 26th of July 2020

I keep my Chihuhaha inside but just have fans running and it riches 103 outside with humidity. She doesn't want to play, just wants to sleep. Sometimes lay in sun.but she has Epilepsy. How esle can i get het motivated i put cool water kn paws stomach neck.


Sunday 26th of July 2020

It's pretty normal for her to feel sluggish when it's so hot so I'd just try to keep her as comfortable as possible til it cools down. Maybe make her some pupsicles (freeze some broth in icecubes for her to lick).

Amanda King

Friday 3rd of August 2018

My poor Luna went into heat exaustion, and I'm 30 weeks pregnant. Took her for a ride to go get my fiance, and she was breathing excessively and acting wierd. So I took her home thought it was separation anxiety from her puppies! Looked up the signs and I was freaking out. Put cooled towels on her and a fan, kept giving her cool water and she is calm and I keep checking on her. And doing so much better!!!!


Friday 3rd of August 2018

Wow, that's scary Amanda! So glad you realized what was going on and helped her in time.


Wednesday 30th of May 2018

We recently had our 3 chihuahuas was a very hot day. They had lots of shade and water. Of course...they play hard. Only 1 of them had issues. Lucifer started throwing up and was very unsteady on his feet. I took him in the house and sprayed him down. Didn't really seem to do much so I gave him a bath in lukewarm water. I took him back outside in his damp towel. He sat on my lap in the shade for a bit. He was fine. Gave us a scare. I went through the same thing a few years back. Dogs and humans are not that different in that respect.


Wednesday 30th of May 2018

Yikes that's scary Sharon. I'm glad he was okay!