From the archives: Take steps to protect pets during extreme heat

August 11, 2021

Photo of pet and it's owner at the Arbor Lodge Cooling Center.

Take steps to protect pets during extreme heat

The mercury is rising. Like humans, pets and animals are susceptible to surging temperatures. Heat stroke in animals is not only life threatening, it can be difficult to treat once it begins. Plan to keep pets inside in a cool or air conditioned space during the hottest hours of the day. 

If animals stay outside, check that they have shade and access to unlimited water to play in and to drink. Consider setting up a sprinkler or filling a kiddie pool for your animals. Do not let dogs swim in or drink from the Willamette River due to the current toxic algae bloom

If your pet appears to be panting excessively, wrap them in a wet towel, and check for symptoms of heat stroke. Learn more about the symptoms and treatment for heat stroke in cats and dogs.

If you have to run errands, leave your pets at home. Never leave your animal unattended in a vehicle, as animals left in hot vehicles can die within minutes. And anytime you see an animal in a car, Multnomah County Animal Service recommends that you:

  • Call the Multnomah County Animal Services Dispatch at (503) 988-7387. Dispatchers will ask you about what you observe, and advise of next steps, or send an Animal Control Officer to the scene

  • Or call 9-1-1 and municipal police departments can respond to assist you.

For people with livestock, make sure you have enough shade for all animals and set up a sprinkler to cool them during the hottest hours. Avoid transporting animals until temperatures cool. Pigs and shorn sheep, as well as young animals, dark animals and sick animals, are at greater risk of heat illness. 

Wildlife are also susceptible to heat. Consider keeping bird feeders full, and keep a water dish on the ground, in the shade, for outdoor animals. This can help feral cats, squirrels, possums and other animals.  

Cooling Centers offer a place of refuge for pets 

Multnomah County and the City of Portland today opened cooling centers for people who need relief from the heat, either for a few hours or a few days. Pets are welcome at cooling centers, so if your furry friends don’t have a cool space to be during the heat, plan to spend a few hours at one of our cool places

Please note that pets must be confined in a kennel at cooling centers or kept on a leash. While Multnomah County Animal Services can provide crates, litter boxes, bedding and other supplies, pet owners are encouraged to bring their own necessities such as food, water, water bowls, waste bags, toys and leashes.

Pets are not allowed at library locations; only legal service animals are allowed. 

Visit the Help for When it’s Hot website for the latest on cooling centers and other places to get relief.