Soaring Temperatures Can Be Dangerous to Pets

After a summer notable for its moderate temperatures, the Portland area forecast is for temperatures that may soar to 100 degrees. It is important to remember that such extreme heat takes different pet care than more moderate sunny days.

“Pets, especially dogs, are in much more danger in the heat than humans are. This is because dogs don’t sweat and are less efficient in expelling heat from their bodies than we are,” explains Washington County Animal Services manager Deborah Wood. 

Dogs in Hot Cars

The number one danger to pets in hot weather is being left in a hot car. “With temperatures this high, don’t assume your dog will be okay in the car for even a few minutes,” says Wood. . “With the predicted temperatures, these cars can quickly become death chambers.”

If you see a dog in a hot car, and the dog appears to be in distress, and especially if it lethargic or appears non-responsive, call for help. You can call Animal Services in each county or can call 911.

“Animal services agencies and law enforcement agencies are very serious about animals that have been endangered in hot cars,” says Wood. If an animal has been physically endangered by the situation, the owner could face a fine of up to $500.

“Depending on the circumstances, the person could also face criminal animal neglect charges; if convicted, the person would be barred from possessing a pet for five years and may even face jail time,” says Wood. Law enforcement and animal services officers have the right to break into a car if the animal’s life is in immediate danger and take the dog to safety. 

Tips for Keeping Your Pet Safe

♦ Consider your pet’s individual needs. Some pets are especially at risk. Pets with flat faces such as pugs, bulldogs, and boxers – and Persian cats – don’t handle heat as well as animals with longer noses. Older pets, overweight pets, and pets with medical issues also have particular trouble on hot days. Even a short walk or too much sun can result in a medical emergency.

♦ Keep all your pets in the coolest place available. Bring pets inside where temperatures are lower. Provide them with plenty of available cool water.

♦ Don’t walk your dog in the heat of the day. In addition to the danger of heat stroke, hot sidewalks and asphalt can burn the bottom of your pet’s paws.  “The bottom line is that, if you love your pet, leave your pet at home and keep it cool,” says Wood. 

Dealing with Heat Stroke

♦ Symptoms of Heat Stroke: Signs of distress include excessive panting, curled tongue, salivating and discomfort. As the symptoms progress, your pet may vomit, have diarrhea, become disoriented, lose consciousness or even have seizures.

♦ Treating Heat Stroke: “This can be a medical emergency,” warns Dr. Allison Lamb, staff veterinarian for Washington County Animal Services.

If you are concerned your pet has heat stroke, cool the animal slowly. “Don’t soak your dog to cool him or her down,” says Lamb. “With the pet’s body heat, the wet fur can actually end up heating up the pet instead of cooling him off. Instead, apply cool, not cold, water to feet, legs, and armpits to help cool it down.”

Call your veterinarian right away if you think your pet has become overheated, even if your pet appears to be okay. “Internal organs can be affected, and your animal could have secondary effects from the exposure. It is always important to consult with your regular veterinarian about your animal’s personal medical history in regards to heat exposure,” says Lamb.