18 exhausted dog symptoms – when your dog needs a break!


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exhausted dog symptoms

What are exhausted dog symptoms? How do you know if your dog is overtired or suffers from heat exhaustion? And how can you prevent or help a dog that suffers from exhaustion? These are all very important questions and the signs are not always evident.

When we’re talking of exhausted dogs, there are 2 kinds of exhaustion that can be meant: Heat exhaustion or exhaustion as being overtired.

Both kinds of exhaustion in dogs can be quite dangerous. This is why I’m showing you the 18 exhausted dog symptoms so that you know when your dog needs a break or possibly a vet!

What is exhaustion in dogs?

According to the Cambridge dictionary, exhaustion is “the state of being extremely tired”. It can have different causes. For dogs the most common ones are heat or too much exposure to physical, mental or emotional stimulation.

When is a dog exhausted?

A dog is exhausted when he can’t be himself because all energy has left him. In case of heat exhaustion it simply means that he can’t function in a normal way because the heat paralyzes him physically or mentally.

Can dogs get over exhausted?

As a matter of fact, every living being can become over exhausted. Even though it seems that some dogs could run for days on end, they would literally die of exhaustion at some point!

Dogs are very loyal beings. This is why it’s very common for them to go way further than is good for them in order to keep up with you. So, it’s your job to know the exhausted dog symptoms to give your dog a chance to rest.

Related article: why are dogs so loyal?

Over exhausted dogs can fall into a coma or even die because of organ failure. So, this is really something to take seriously!

Heat exhaustion in dogs

Now let’s first look at heat exhaustion.

The symptoms for this kind of exhaustion in dogs are usually more obvious, because it’s clearly visible that your dog has had enough! Exhaustion in the way of your dog just being overtired is more difficult to detect. We’ll get to that in a minute.

First of all, heat exhaustion in dogs can only happen in warm to hot weather. If it’s winter, your pup’s exhaustion won’t be caused by heat.

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Symptoms of heat exhaustion in dogs

1. Excessive panting

This is the first, very clear sign. If your dog’s tongue is hanging on the ground and he’s panting like crazy, you should definitely get him some water and put him in the shade.

2. Very slow movements

You’ve probably already seen your dog moving much slower when it’s hot, right? Well, you always have to keep in mind that he’s wearing the almost same coat in winter and in summer. That just makes him hot! But once he’s moving extremely slowly, he’s overheating.

3. Unable to walk

The next step would be that he’s not even able to walk anymore. If it’s hot and humid, it’s high time to let him cool down. If he can’t get up even after being in a cooler place for about 30 minutes, you should call your vet!

4. Lethargic behavior

Does your dog not respond to your commands or even his name anymore? Does he reject his favorite treats? Another sign, that he’s had too much heat.

5. Heart racing

Another sign for heat exhaustion is a racing heart. Feel his chest, is his heart going super fast? Okay, time for some rest in the shade. This will definitely come with excessive panting.

6. Excessive drooling

If it’s hot and your dog is drooling excessively without any food in front of his nose, then this is another symptom for heat exhaustion.

7. Dizziness, lack of coordination

Can your dog still walk but seems a bit off? Is he unable to walk straight? Another clear sign that he needs some shade and water.

8. Vomiting, diarrhea

If your dog is also vomiting or has diarrhea, it’s time to call your vet!

When can the heat exhaustion become a heat stroke for dogs?

Dogs can only regulate their body temperature through panting. If this isn’t enough to cool him down, a dog’s body temperature rises. He can actually get a fever from being too hot, which is also referred to as hyperthermia or heat stroke.

Here’s a good explanation from VCAHospitals: “Generally speaking, if a pet’s body temperature exceeds 103°F (39.4°C), it is considered abnormal or hyperthermic. Body temperatures above 106°F (41°F) without previous signs of illness are most commonly associated with exposure to excessive external or environmental heat and are often referred to as heat stroke. The critical temperature where multiple organ failure and impending death occurs is around 107°F to 109°F (41.2°C to 42.7°C).”

A dog suffering from a heat stroke can show all the symptoms listed above. Further, he can be unconscious, and you’ll feel the heat coming from his body.

Here’s a good video from Dr. Alex, summarizing the signs of heat strokes in dogs:

How to prevent heat exhaustion in dogs

The best way to treat any kind of exhaustion in dogs is prevention! And it’s actually pretty easy.

By far the most important thing is to never ever leave your dog in the car when the sun is out!!!

There literally isn’t any good excuse to do it! Even if you think it will only be 5 minutes. What if you meet a friend on the way, start talking and forget that you should get back to your car immediately? What if you have an accident in the store? Or what if there’s an emergency and you have to help someone?

While these scenarios might seem unlikely, they are possible. And this can be deadly for your dog!

The second thing to do to prevent heat exhaustion in dogs is to never leave him in the sun without shade and water for an extended period.

On really hot days (over 95°F / 35°C), only take your dog for walks in the cooler mornings and evenings. And when the sun is shining but it’s not super hot, then make sure he’s always got a shady spot to lie in and lots of water.

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How to treat dog heat exhaustion in dogs

Okay, but what do you do if it’s too late?

Depending on the state of your dog’s heat exhaustion, you can help your dog yourself.

Mild heat exhaustion

If he’s only excessively panting and moving more slowly but seems normal otherwise, then start by putting him in a cooler place immediately. This means to take him out of the sun, possibly inside if it’s cooler and let him lie on the cold floor or a cooling mat (which is also a great idea as a prevention, btw). If there’s body of water close by, let him take a swim or at least dip his paws and drink as much as he needs to.

Most of the time, this helps enough. Additionally, you can also cool his ears, paws, armpits and between his hind legs with a wet towel.

Severe heat exhaustion

If he seems very lethargic or confused and can’t drink, then you should call your vet to ask for further guidance. Of course, you should take all the other cooling measures as well. If he can’t drink, don’t force him, as it could get into his lungs. Instead wet his tongue with some drops or a wet cloth.

Be careful, don’t put him from 104°F (40°C) to your A/C cooled room of 65°F (18°C) immediately, as this could lead to a shock. Maybe start with the shade, a cooling mat and a cooling wet towel and then slowly go to a cooler area.

If he’s also vomiting, has diarrhea and can’t walk anymore, then it’s high time to see your vet. Call ahead for further guidance and go there as fast as possible!

Exhaustion in dogs in the sense of them being overtired

Now let’s look at the second kind of exhaustion in dogs, which is when they’re simply being overtired.

How do I know if my dog is too tired?

This kind of exhaustion can happen in any weather and the signs are not always that clear. The main problem is that exhausted dogs can actually appear to be hyperactive!

So, how do you know, if your dog needs a rest?

Well, an exhausted dog usually shows a couple of sings listed below at a time. Plus, you always have to look at it in context. Has he been indoors all day and didn’t do much? Well, then his behavior probably doesn’t signal exhaustion.

Has he been running with his furiends for the whole day and you had guests over in the evening, though? Yep, then it’s pretty obvious that he’s really overtired.

Can it be dangerous when my dog is exhausted?

Unlike with heat exhaustion, it’s not directly dangerous for your dog if he’s exhausted in the sense of being overtired.

However, overtired or exhausted dogs often forget their manner or become grumpy or even reactive. This is why it can actually get dangerous for people (especially children) around an exhausted dog if he can’t get any rest.

For your dog the danger might only become visible after a longer period of time. Sleep deprivation and exhaustion can lead to a number of physical and mental problems and it can kill your dog!

So, take this seriously and provide your dog with the 18 hours of sleep he needs on average!

Exhausted dog symptoms

I’ve written a whole article about the 10 sings and symptoms that your dog is overtired or exhausted. If your dog is still a puppy, make sure to check out my slightly different guide on the 10 overtired puppy symptoms.

In this article I’m only listing the symptoms. Make sure to check out either guide for more in-depth information.

  1. Yawning
  2. He forgets commands
  3. Hyper dog lying down
  4. He’s having the zoomies
  5. He’s sniffing the ground
  6. Excessive panting and/or lip licking
  7. He’s not acting like himself
  8. Excessive thirst
  9. No interest in playing
  10. Hiding

Keep in mind that most dogs won’t show any of the obvious signs. On the contrary, most dogs will probably have the zoomies and be full of hyperactive energy!

It’s like with small children: they get most hyperactive after a long day and when it’s definitely time for bed!

Attention: if your dog is just lethargic with no other symptoms, it isn’t particularly hot and he didn’t have a long day of running, playing exercise etc., then it’s possible that he’s sick. Some of the signs are also the same for dog depression. Or he could have eaten something that causes bellyache or he might have picked up a virus. In these cases it’s important to consult your vet.

What should I do if my dog shows some of the exhausted dog symptoms?

First of all, you have to force him to rest!

Most dogs won’t be able to show you that they’ve had enough. Because if dogs in the wild can’t keep up with the pack, this means death! So, dogs are genetically wired in a way that makes them wanting to keep up for as long as possible. Even if this means that they’re using their last bit of energy!

My miniature poodle Baloo is a very good example. It took years of training for him to be able to relax once we’re home. Before that he was even following me everywhere at home because he was always scared that he’d miss out on something.

Nowadays, this even works when we’re having guests, even though it takes a while. Now I can make him lie in his bed when I know he’s overtired and he usually falls asleep or can at least relax within a couple of minutes.

Before he was able to relax like that, I always put him in his crate. A crate can be a great help for your pup to relax if it isn’t enough to make him go to his bed.

If he’s still lethargic or super hyper the next day, then it’s time to call your vet. If these kind of behaviors are displayed over longer periods of time, then it might also be caused by a medical condition.

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Specific examples for exhausted dogs

Now let’s look at some specific examples where it’s very common that your dog gets exhausted.

My dog is exhausted after exercise

This is one of the classic examples where a dog can get exhausted.

When Baloo and I have agility training, it means an hour of watching other dogs jump and having to wait, running through the obstacle course and focusing on my commands. This is really exhausting for dogs and it’s only natural that he needs a nap after it.

However, Baloo would never “admit” that. As long as we’re outside, he’s totally hyped up because agility is sooooo exciting!

Thankfully he can calm down as soon as he’s in my dog backpack carrier (I’m cycling to get there). And when we’re home it only takes a few minutes until he sleeps like a baby.

If he was still jumping around, it would be important to force him to rest. Exercise like agility or any other dog sport is very demanding for dogs, and so their body and mind need to relax after it.

My dog is exhausted after boarding or daycare

Another very prominent example.

Interaction with other dogs is also very tiring for your pup. It’s as if you went to a full-day conference where you had to network and talk to everyone non-stop. I bet the only thing you’d be thinking about after a day like that is your bed!

This is what your dog feels like after daycare or boarding. And even if he’s still super excited when you get him, he has to be able to sleep once you’re home.

My dog is exhausted after a walk

Depending on the length of a walk and your dog’s fitness, a normal walk can also leave your dog exhausted. This is particularly true for very hot days or generally for overweight dogs or brachycephalic dog breeds.

If it’s just been a short walk and your dog is usually much more energetic (and it isn’t a super hot day), then you’d want to observe it. If your dog remains super exhausted after short walks for 2 days in a row, then I’d call the vet.

Conclusion

Exhaustion in dogs can quickly become dangerous, especially for your dog, but also for people around him.

This is why it’s very important to know the exhausted dog symptoms. This is absolutely crucial for heat exhaustion in dogs, as it can quickly become life-threatening.

While exhaustion in the sense of your dog being overtired usually isn’t that severe, it can lead to health problems over time. So, you should learn to read your dog, so that you can always make sure, he gets a rest, when he needs it.

One last word of advice: If you have the slightest doubt that there might be something wrong with your dog, it’s always best to double-check with your vet!

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