Tips for Pet Owners Before the Washington Heatwave


Starting Saturday, record heat will sweep the Pacific Northwest with temperatures reaching over 100 degrees in western Washington. This is why it is especially important to take extra precautions and be more aware of our pets.

For humans, you can go to the lake and cool off, but for animals, it’s not that easy. Many local animal shelters in Washington, DC, organizations have several tips that pet owners can use to take better care of their pets during the heatwave on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday.

According to Auburn Valley Humanitarian Society, monitor how much your pet plays outdoors and adjust their intensity or duration of outdoor play accordingly. Try to limit your pet’s exercise in the early morning or late afternoon when temperatures are cooler. Limit sun exposure for pets with white ears who may be more susceptible to skin cancer, and dogs with short noses who have more trouble breathing during exercise and in hot weather.

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AVHS also notes to limit the time spent walking animals on hot asphalt to avoid damaging their paws. Pets don’t sweat like humans, but through their feet and adapt to heat differently. The local shelter also recommends that you don’t just rely on a fan to cool your pet and make sure you give them enough shade and water. A fun activity before the heat can be making do-it-yourself popsicles for dogs that they can enjoy and help them cool down.

PAWS, a Washington-based nonprofit rehabilitation and adoption shelter organization, recommends that pet owners immediately take their furry friends to the vet if they suspect their pet has issues such as heat stroke. PAWS says overheating symptoms include excessive panting, drooling, mild weakness, or collapse. More serious symptoms can include seizures, bloody diarrhea, or body temperatures above 104 degrees.

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The organization also claims that flat-faced animals, such as pugs or Persian cats, are more susceptible to heatstroke and cannot pant as effectively. It is also recommended to keep overweight animals or those with heart or lung disease in air-conditioned environments.

PAWS says pet owners shouldn’t leave an animal in a parked car on a hot day because the vehicle acts like an oven and retains much of that heat. If you are enjoying the pool, lake or river, they suggest that you gradually introduce the animals into the water and do not leave them unattended. Try to avoid letting them drink chlorinated water or pool water with other chemicals, as this can cause the animal to upset the stomach. Brush cats or dogs with longer fur, as this can also help with overheating.

Finally, don’t forget about other animals, not just cats or dogs. According to Washington State University breeding experts, avoid strenuous activities when working with livestock, and make sure the buildings they use have adequate ventilation and air circulation.

Watch for signs of lethargy or dehydration such as dry or sunken eyes. Breeding experts also say that they provide the animals with clean water. Standing water exposed to heat for long periods of time can produce blue-green algae that can be toxic to livestock, wildlife, and pets.

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