Tips for Washington pet owners during heat wave

Washington state will once again experience a heatwave this week. While not as intense or lengthy as the historic, record-breaking heatwave in June, it still highlights why taking extra care and being more aware of our pets is especially important. 

For humans, we can go to the lake and cool off, but for pets, it's not that easy. Many local Washington animal shelters, organizations have several tips pet owners can utilize to take extra care of their pets during the heatwave Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. 

According to Auburn Valley Humane Society, keep an eye on how much your pet is playing outside and adjust their intensity or duration of playtime outside accordingly. Try to limit your pet’s exercise to early morning or late afternoon when it’s the coolest temperatures. Limit sun exposure for pets with white-colored ears who may be more susceptible to skin cancer and short-nosed dogs that have a harder time breathing while exercising and in the heat. 

AVHS also notes to limit time walking pets on hot asphalt to avoid damage to their paws. Pets do not sweat like humans do, but through their feet and adjust to the heat differently. The local shelter also recommends to not just rely on a fan to cool off your pet and to make sure to give your pets ample amounts of shade and water. A fun activity ahead of the heat can be to make DIY dog-friendly popsicles they can enjoy and to help cool down. 

PAWS, a non-profit rehabilitation and adoption shelter organization located in Washington, recommends pet owners take their furry friends to the vet immediately if they think their pet is experiencing any issues such as a heat stroke. PAWS says symptoms of overheating include excessive panting, drooling, mild weakness, or collapsing. More severe symptoms can include seizures, bloody diarrhea, or body temperatures over 104 degrees.

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The organization also says that pets with flat faces such as pugs or Persian cats are more susceptible to heat strokes and cannot pant as effectively. Overweight pets or those with heart or lung diseases are also recommended to be kept in air-conditioned environments.

PAWS says pet owners should not leave a pet in a parked car on a hot day as the vehicle acts as a furnace and traps a lot of that heat. If enjoying the pool, lake or river, they suggest introduce pets gradually to the water and do not leave them unattended. Try to avoid letting them drink chlorine water or pool water with other chemicals as that can cause the pet to have an upset stomach. Brush cats or dogs with longer fur as this can also help with overheating. 

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

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

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