Texas heat wave puts dogs’ lives in danger


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Aug 02, 2023

Texas heat wave puts dogs’ lives in danger

Reporter In a recent Facebook post, the Harker Heights Pet Adoption Center confirmed it had heard from individuals who had lost their family pets to dangerous temperatures and possible heat stroke.


In a recent Facebook post, the Harker Heights Pet Adoption Center confirmed it had heard from individuals who had lost their family pets to dangerous temperatures and possible heat stroke.

“Unfortunately, people sometimes don’t think to bring their pets in,” Tasha Canton said, an Animal Control Officer at the Center in Harker Heights. She said the dangers are out there with this extreme heat.

“Not meant for man, nor beast,” Canton said as she cautioned animal owners to remember their furry friends.

The state’s Safe Outdoor Dogs Act was signed into law in 2021 and went into effect in January 2022. It says that animals left outside must have adequate shelter from extreme temperatures, inclement weather and standing water.

According to a Heat Advisory Notice published on the Harker Heights Pet Adoption Facebook page, extreme temperatures are defined as higher than 95 degrees for at least two days or nighttime air temperatures that do not drop below 75-degrees.

According to an article in TexVetPets, Dr. Christine New, a veterinarian in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, says heat stroke is a medical emergency for a dog and requires veterinary treatment.

“Heat stroke occurs when a dog’s normal body mechanisms cannot keep the body’s temperature in a safe range. The average normal body temperature for a dog is 101.5 F. A dog with heat stroke will often have a temperature in the range of 104 F to 106 F.

Severe heat stroke can result in gastrointestinal upset, dysfunction of internal organs, spontaneous internal bleeding, widespread infection and death,” according to the article.

One thing that New brings up is that unlike people, dogs have limited means of dispelling excess heat.

“Dogs are only able to sweat via their footpads, and their main method of cooling down is panting, which can be inhibited by several factors,” New said. “Dogs with short faces and noses (known as brachycephalic breeds) will physically have more difficulty cooling off via panting, making these breeds more prone to heatstroke.”

Common brachycephalic breeds include bulldogs, pugs, shih tzu, Boston terriers and boxers. Although every breed of dog can suffer from this emergency, extreme caution should be used with brachycephalic breeds and dogs with “smushed faces” during the hotter months in Texas, according to New.

Dogs may get heat stroke after outside exercise on a warm day. Indoor dogs that venture outside to exercise tend to get it more commonly, although it can occur in dogs that live outdoors as well.

Heat stroke also occurs when pets are left in hot cars or forgotten outside on a hot Texas day, especially when they have limited or no access to drinking water, according to the article.

New says to look for these symptoms:

A dog that is beginning to overheat will often act distressed and restless while panting excessively.

The dog’s tongue may protrude far out of its mouth and appear swollen and red.

A dog may drool large amounts of saliva from the nose and/or mouth and may start to have vomiting and/or diarrhea.

A dog may become unsteady on its feet or collapse and become poorly responsive.

A dog’s gums may turn blue, purple or bright red in color, which is due to inadequate oxygen.

New gives several common sense tips, but the following should be avoided if the outside temperature is above 80 with a humidity of at least 90%:

Running or jogging with your dog

Having your dog ride in the bed of a pickup truck

Keeping your dog staked out in the yard

Leaving your dog in the car for any amount of time

Playing fetch with your dog outdoors

Letting your dog play hard with other dogs in the park

Leaving your dog at a daycare at which it is left outdoors. Ask your dog daycare what their outdoor-time procedures are.

“If your dog lives primarily indoors, outside walks and other outside exercise should occur only in the cooler mornings or evenings during warmer weather,” New said. “Even if your dog is used to exercising, a longer than normal walk or jog on a hotter than typical day can result in heat stroke.”

New says it goes without saying that you should make sure your dog always has access to water and encourage it to take breaks from exercising in the shade.

Heat stroke is a very serious, preventable disease in Texas.

“Use caution with your dog when outdoors in the warmer months, and remember that many dogs will walk that extra mile or chase the ball again, despite the damage occurring in their bodies,” New said. “If you suspect your pet has suffered heatstroke, do not delay veterinary care.”

Portions of this article from “Heatstroke: Heat Can be Fatal to Your Pet,” at https://tinyurl.com/26pjs7nr

The Safe Outdoor Dogs Act, which went into effect across Texas on Jan. 18, 2022, has the following stipulations:

Defines adequate shelter to protect dogs from extreme temperatures, inclement weather, and standing water. Previously, there was no definition for shelter, thus tethered dogs routinely perished from exposure.

Requires access to drinkable water. Before the Safe Outdoor Dogs Act, state law did not include this requirement.

Requires safe restraints. The Safe Outdoor Dogs Act strikes the use of chains. Other means of restraint, such as cable tie-outs, may be used so long as they are correctly attached to a collar or harness designed to restrain a dog.

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