News & Politics

5 Tips For Keeping Pets Safe in the Heat

For one, don't leave them in a hot car.

Walk your dog early in the morning to avoid the midday heat wave. Photograph via iStock.

In 2016, a puggle died in Falls Church after its 19-year-old owner left it inside a car while she went shopping in PetSmart. She was arrested in the parking lot and charged with felony animal cruelty.

For pet owners (and parents), this may seem like an obvious mistake to avoid. But there are other, more insidious ways the heat can affect our furry friends, which deal with high temperatures differently than we do. According to Alexandra Dilley, the director of behavior and training for the Washington Human Society-Washington Animal Rescue League, dogs can die of heat stroke in five to ten minutes. “It happens very quickly,” she says.

Here are five other tips from Dilley, who’s urging pet owners to take extra precautions in the extreme heat.

• Be especially careful with animals with short snouts such as bulldogs, pugs, Boston terriers, and Persian cats, which are especially susceptible to the heat since they can’t cool themselves as quickly through their mouths.

• If you notice excessive panting, drooling, or lethargy, these are signs of overheating, and you should move your pet inside, apply ice packs or cold towels to its head, neck and chest, and give it water. You can also put it in a cool bathtub. If that doesn’t help, contact your veterinarian immediately.

• Dogs with heavy coats, like huskies, should be kept inside at all times if possible. “Imagine if you had a fur coat on and someone left you outside in the heat,” Dilley says.

• Walk your dog early in the morning or late at night to avoid the hottest parts of the day. And carry extra water with you.

• Keep dogs away from asphalt. Their paws are sensitive to the hot surface, and because their bodies are low to the ground, they can overheat faster. 

And as always, if you see a dog left in a car, call for help immediately.

Web producer/writer

Greta started as an editorial fellow in January 2016 and joined as a full-time staff member that August. She now works as a web producer and writer. She was previously an intern at Slate and National Geographic and graduated from the University of Missouri’s Journalism School. She lives in Adams Morgan.