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Keeping Your Dog Safe in Extreme Heat

Limit Outdoor Time

Residents are advised to bring their pets indoors and to limit outdoor time. District of Columbia law states that an animal cannot be outdoors for more than 15 minutes during periods of extreme weather without human accompaniment or adequate shelter. Extreme weather means temperatures above 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

When the temperature is above 80 degrees, a dog kept outside must have access to adequate shelter. This means a dog must have access to a shelter shaded by trees, a roof, a tarp, or a tarp-like device.

Don't Leave Your Pet in Your Car

DC law also states that animals shall not be left alone in a vehicle in such a way that endangers the animal’s health or safety. It takes as little as ten minutes for a car to heat up to unbearable temperatures, even with the windows cracked. Pets can overheat easily, and heat stroke and/or death is a real risk. Don't take the risk- if you have to leave your pet in your car, it's better to just leave them at home.

If you witness an animal emergency, including animals left outside in extreme temperatures or in vehicles, please call 202-723-5730.

10 Important Tips in Dealing with Extreme Heat

HRA advises pet owners to be aware of the following:

  1. Keep your pets indoors when temperatures are extreme and in the shade when they are outdoors.
  2. Walk your pets early in the morning or later in the evening to avoid the hottest part of the day.
  3. Give pets plenty of water to avoid dehydration. When you walk your pet or take your pet outside, carry water with you.
  4. Never leave your animals alone in a parked vehicle. Temperatures in cars can increase rapidly and become lethal.
  5. Animals with short noses such as Bulldogs, Pugs, Boston Terriers and Persian cats, are especially vulnerable in the heat.  Dogs and cats cool themselves by breathing through their mouths, but those with flat faces cannot cool as quickly and need extra attention.
  6. If your pet is panting excessively, drooling, struggling to walk, is lethargic, or has bloody diarrhea or vomiting, know that that these are potentially signs of overheating. 
  7. Windows in the home that are open should have screens. Pets can fall out of open, unsecured windows.
  8. Be careful with dogs on asphalt in the heat. Not only are their paws sensitive but because their bodies are closer to the asphalt, they can overheat more easily.
  9. As always, if you think your pet is in distress due to the heat, call your veterinarian as soon as possible.
  10. If you are hot, your pet is too! 

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