Portland, OR. Veterinarians at DoveLewis say they’re treating animals impacted by the heat. “It’s important to realize how higher temperatures may affect pets. Keeping pets cool is crucial to preventing heat stroke and exhaustion,” said Dr. Jessica Casey. Understanding your pet’s limitations and taking extra precautions in warm weather may be the difference between a fun day in the sun and a trip to the emergency room.

Jedi suffered a serious case of heatstroke during the last heat wave. It took him a while to feel better, but over time he recovered.

Here are tips for keeping dogs and cats safe in extreme heat:

Never leave your pet in a car. On a mild to hot day, temperatures in a closed car can exceed 120 degrees in minutes, creating a dangerous condition for any animal. Cracking a window or parking in the shade does not help.

Give your pet extra water. Hydration is crucial to avoid illness. Whether your pet is indoors or outdoors, be sure to fill their water bowls several times a day.

Protect your pet’s paws from hot surfaces. Walk your pet in the grass or the shade whenever possible. If the pavement is too hot for your bare hands or feet, it’s too hot for your pet’s paws.

Don’t overdo outdoor exercise. Often times, dogs don’t know when they need a break, so stop frequently for shaded breaks and offer plenty of water.

Take extra precaution with older dogs and dogs with shorter noses. Older dogs can be especially susceptible to higher temperatures, and certain breeds with shorter noses (like pugs and bulldogs) are at a greater risk of heatstroke.

Apply pet-safe sunscreen to your dog. Sunburn can affect pets the same way it affects humans – pain, peeling and skin cancer. Use a pet-safe sunscreen on unprotected areas, like the tips of the ears, the skin around the lips, and the tip of the nose. A good rule of thumb for sunscreen: If it’s safe for babies, it’s safe for your pets.

Don’t leave windows open while you’re pets are unattended. High-rise syndrome, when pets fall from a two-story building or higher, can be fatal. Don’t rely on window screens to keep your pet from falling.

When in doubt, stay indoors. Avoid staying outside during the hottest time of the day, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Know the signs of heatstroke in dogs and cats:

Heatstroke can be fatal if not treated quickly. Signs of heatstroke include:



Warm and dry skin

Rapid heartbeat

Staring or anxious expressions


Refusal to obey commands

Owners who suspect their pet may be experiencing heatstroke, or whose pet has fallen from a window, should call their regular veterinarian or DoveLewis immediately at 503-228-7281. In the meantime, they can help lower their pet’s body temperature by applying towels soaked in cool water to the hairless areas of the pet’s body (the tips and back of the ears, foot pads, belly, and inner thighs). Use a fan to help cool the animal while they are wet. Even if the pets seems to cool down, it’s still imperative to visit a veterinarian immediately, as temperatures often spike again or cool below a safe, normal temperature. Please note: Avoid completely immersing a pet in water, since heat cannot leave the body as effectively in this situation, and extreme changes in body temperature are dangerous to the pet’s health.

New law allows good Samaritans to break car windows to rescue animals and children

On June 22, a new law went into effect (HB 2732) that allows people to break into a car to save an unattended animal or child who appears to be in imminent danger. In 95-degree weather, the inside of a car can reach 114 degrees in less than 10 minutes and 129 degrees in 30 minutes.  An animal or child in this situation could suffer heatstroke, which can be fatal, in just a few minutes. Cracking windows and parking in the shade does not help. Good Samaritans who choose to rescue an animal or child must call law enforcement prior to breaking in and must stay near the car with the animal or child until police arrive at the scene.

About DoveLewis

DoveLewis Emergency Animal Hospital, established in 1973 and based in Portland, Oregon, is the only nonprofit, 24-hour emergency and intensive care unit in the region. With 43 years of service to the community, DoveLewis has treated more than 500,000 animals and has been deemed one of Oregon’s Most Admired Nonprofits by the Portland Business Journal for eight years. For more information, please visit www.dovelewis.org.