Potomac Brief: Hot Weather Tips For Pet Owners

Potomac Brief: Hot Weather Tips For Pet Owners

The staff of the Montgomery County Animal Services and Adoption Center reminds pet-owners to ensure the safety of dogs and cats during periods of extreme heat.

Owners are encouraged to bring their domestic pets inside during periods of extreme heat and humidity. Animals that have to remain outdoors must have access to shade and plenty of cool water.

Montgomery County’s Executive Regulation 10-10AM, Anti-Cruelty Conditions for Dogs, Section 1.0-II-D is enforced in the summer months whenever and for as long as the Weather Service issues an Excessive Heat Warning. This regulation states that, “A person must not tether a dog under circumstances that endanger its health, safety, or well-being, including: unattended tethering of a dog during a weather emergency.” The penalty for this violation is a fine of $500.

Just as the public is advised not to leave young children or the elderly in a parked car, this guidance also applies to pets. The temperature inside a vehicle can drastically rise after just a few minutes. That leaves vulnerable people and pets susceptible to heat stroke, brain damage, and even death. Parking in the shade or leaving the windows cracked does little to alleviate the heat inside a vehicle.

Dogs are frequently left unattended in a vehicle and because their bodies are designed to conserve heat, if they are left unattended in a vehicle they can suffer brain and organ damage after just 15 minutes.

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) reports that animals are at particular risk for heat stroke if they are very old, very young, overweight, not conditioned to prolonged exercise, or have heart or respiratory disease. Some breeds of dogs — like boxers, pugs, shih tzus, and other dogs and cats with short muzzles — will have a much harder time breathing in extreme heat.

Signs of heat stroke in dogs include: a body temperature of 104 to 110 degrees, excessive panting, dark or bright-red tongue and gums, glazed eyes, a rapid heartbeat, staggering, stupor, seizures, profuse salivation, vomiting and unconsciousness.

The HSUS provides this suggested treatment for heatstroke in dogs: Move your pet into the shade or an air-conditioned area. Apply ice packs or cold towels to her head, neck, and chest or run cool (not cold) water over her. Let her drink small amounts of cool water or lick ice cubes. Take her directly to a veterinarian.

Concerns about the safety of an animal during extreme heat and at any time can be reported to the police non-emergency number 301-279-8000, or if it is an emergency to 9-1-1.