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Keeping Your Dog Safe in Record-Breaking Heat Waves

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A couple of weeks ago, the U.S. Pacific Northwest clocked some of its highest temperatures on record in an event some experts claim would have been nearly impossible without climate change. As a result, the end of June saw melted powerlines, collapsed roads, over 200 deaths, and a series of new record-setting high temperatures that we should be anything but proud of.


Needless to say, residents of the Pacific Northwest are unaccustomed to such sweltering heat, which may get even worse as the summer progresses. Few residents of the region have centralized air conditioning, and units are so scarce right now that installation before summer’s end seems unlikely. Power shortages are also a concern, as those with air conditioning and fans have cranked them up to maximum strength.

With the unbearable heat and fire season upon us, residents who own dogs may be growing concerned. How can they keep their furry friends safe in the summer heat? Here, we’ll explore how you can ensure a sheltered summer for your pet through record-breaking heat.

Keep Your Home Cool

The icy blast of air conditioning seems like something out of a dream during a massive heatwave. Unfortunately, for many, air conditioning installation is not feasible by summer’s end, whether due to supply shortages or financial constraints.

If you’re looking to keep your home cool on a budget, there are, luckily, several tactics you can try. Closing your drapes while away can mitigate your home’s heat absorption, while reducing appliance use can keep heat from accumulating inside. Rearranging your space or installing a ceiling fan can also have positive cooling effects on your space that both you and your pet will enjoy,

Hazards While Out and About

Between 6 and 8 million cats and dogs go into shelters each year, meaning that sadly euthanization is the number one cause of death for healthy canines in America. One barrier to adoption is that shelters can sometimes be too picky with potential adopters. Shelters have good intentions and want to ensure animals find loving homes, but they’ve likely fallen prey to common misconceptions about pet ownership.

We’ve all heard it before — the story of the pup left in a hot car who falls victim to the heat. It’s a tragedy but one that can be avoided. The vast majority of American pet owners are responsible caregivers eager to help their furry friends through the hot summer months.


If you’re one of those caring pet owners, you might be looking for some summer safety tips for your four-legged friend:

  • Ensure your dog is tagged and microchipped for easy identification.
  • Never leave your dog in a hot car, even if the windows are cracked,
  • Always carry plenty of water with you. If hiking, make sure the trek is not too strenuous for the dog. Remember that their internal body temperatures are often much hotter than the temperature of the air, especially if they’re playing or exercising.
  • Keep away from the pavement when possible. Pavement absorbs heat and can be blistering for the pads on the bottom of your dog’s feet.
  • Steer clear of standing water, which can harbor bacteria.
  • Always be aware of the natural dangers of an area, such as its terrain and any dangerous species that could live nearby.

A Note on Heat Exhaustion

It’s also essential to recognize the signs of heat exhaustion and how to cool a dog down safely. To avoid heatstroke, try exercising your dog at the coolest times of day, which are usually in the early mornings and late evenings.

If you do notice excessive panting, bright red gums, an increased heart rate, or any other symptoms indicative of heat exhaustion, play it safe and immediately try to cool the dog down. Providing them with more water, wiping them down with a cool, wet towel, or icing their water bowl are all things that can help. If signs of heat exhaustion persist, seek veterinary attention immediately. The sooner heat exhaustion is identified, the faster you can get your pet to safety.

Natural Disaster Preparedness

The heatwave sweeping the Pacific Northwest is a preview of things to come if we cannot work together to meet the global sustainability goals set forth by the United Nations. While this year may seem like an unprecedented occurrence, in the years to come, extreme climatic events and natural disasters will likely continue to escalate both in severity and frequency.

In areas frequently hit by natural disasters such as hurricanes, pet owners are encouraged to take natural disaster preparedness precautions. It’s likely pet owners in the Pacific Northwest will adopt a similar strategy in years to come. This will ensure pets are properly tagged, have adequate food supplies, and can evacuate with you if heat, fire, or other natural disasters head your way.

If you’re uncomfortable in the summer heat, your dog probably is too. By keeping your furry friend cool both indoors and outside and having an emergency plan in place, you can keep your whole family cool and content all summer long.


Jori Hamilton is a writer from the pacific northwest. You can follow her on Twitter 
@HamiltonJori and see more of her work at

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