This weekend is expected to be hot in Western Washington with temperatures up to the high 80s.While many of us will get outside and enjoy the sun, it is important to be aware of how to best keep pets safe in the heat.According to the Seattle Humane Society, heat stroke in animals can lead to severe problems like organ failure or even death in extreme cases. While humans stay cool by sweating through the skin, dogs and cats respond by rapidly breathing – that means when we feel hot, pets feel even hotter.An important warning for pet owners is to not keep animals unattended in cars, even for a short period of time. Car interiors can hit up to 160 degrees in less than five minutes.Pet owners are advised to keep their animals at home or outdoors in a cool, shaded area to best protect against potential heat stroke. Animals should be walked in the morning or late evening and avoid hot pavement. And be sure to provide fresh drinking water at all times.. (Photo: Everett Animal Shelter)Signs of heat-related illnesses in an animal include heavy panting, agitation, glazed eyes, a rapid pulse, staggering, vomiting, and a deep red or purple tongue. Pets with short muzzles, like pugs, bulldogs, and Persian cats, are especially prone to heat stroke.If you think your animal may be overheated, immediately place them in a cool place, apply cool water, ice packs, or cold towels on their body, make sure they drink small amounts of cool water or lick ice, and, above all, go to the vet.In May, Governor Inslee signed Senate Bill 5501 into law, which makes it a civil offense to lock an animal in a car or enclosed space in dangerous conditions. The act also allows an animal control officer or law enforcement officer to enter a car to remove the animal, despite potential property damage.Pet owners are liable to a $125 fine if found guilty of leaving their animal unattended.The state also has Prevention of Cruelty to Animals legislation that can charge pet owners with first-degree animal cruelty charges punishable by prison time or a ban from owning animals.The law defines first-degree animal cruelty as cases where the person intentionally inflicts pain, causes physical injury, or kills an animal as a result of undue suffering like starvation, dehydration, or suffocation.Second-degree cases, considered a misdemeanor, include failing to provide the animal with the needed shelter, rest, sanitation, space or medical attention to prevent harm.
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