Don’t leave your pets outside or inside car during excessive heat

Hampden County

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – An excessive heat warning is in effect for parts of western Massachusetts, which means you need to be careful
about leaving your pets outside or in the car.

Under Massachusetts law, it is illegal to keep your dog(s) outside longer than 15 minutes during a weather advisory, warning, or watch. The Heat Advisory remains in effect from Friday to Sunday.

Pet owners are prohibited from leaving animals inside cars during extreme heat. According to the law, a bystander, police, and firefighters may enter the car if, “reasonably necessary to prevent imminent danger or harm to the animal,” after making an effort to locate the owner and calling 911.

Massachusetts law also prohibits tethering dogs outside for more than five hours at a time. Owners who violate these laws will be fined anywhere between $50 for first offenses to $300 for subsequent violations. 

It’s also important to remember that the ground can be extremely hot and burn the pads of animals’ feet. Thomas J. O’Connor Animal Control said with a heat advisory in effect, you cannot tether dogs outside for any length of time, and they will be patrolling to enforce that rule.

According to the ASCPA, even shady spots in temperatures this hot don’t cut it if you want to keep your pets cool. Just like with humans, young and elderly pets are most at risk for heat-related illness, as well as dogs with short muzzles, and thick or dark-colored coats.

You won’t want to leave pets on asphalt for long, as the pads of their feet can burn, and their bodies being close to the ground, they can heat up quickly. Excessive panting, drooling, and weakness are all signs of overheating in pets.

“I always have a fan on her, or we have some portable fans,” said Julie Brooks of Richmond, VA. “We’ve got towels to keep her cooler. She has her own water dish and food dish.”

Dave’s Pet Food City owner Dave Ratner has advice for pet owners this weekend.

“They aren’t going to see the frisbee this weekend; it’s just too hot,” Ratner said. “Have lots of water have lots of ice cubes. Take them down in the basement where it’s usually a little bit cooler. Just don’t tax the dogs.”

Pets can get heatstroke too. Symptoms include panting that doesn’t stop, tiredness, rapid heart rate presenting as restlessness, or just general personality changes.

If you suspect your pet is getting heatstroke, contact a vet right away.

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