While we still have a little over two months before the official start to summer, it should come as no surprise that West Texas is already turning up the heat. After a cool start to the work week, we're expecting high temperatures in the low to mid 90s. That means we need to pay extra attention to our furry friends who tend to spend a bit more time outdoors. That leads many to question, how hot is too hot for Fido?

Limit Time Outdoors After Reaching This Temperature

According to researchers at the College of Veterinary Medicine at Purdue University, "the normal range of temperatures at which dogs and other species can maintain their body temperatures without expending energy to increase heat production or heat loss is called the thermoneutral zone (TNZ), and ranges from 20°C (68°F) to 30°C (86°F) for dogs."

They go on to note that dogs should not be subjected to temperatures greater than this for more than four consecutive hours, whether or not they're outside. This is a good guideline to follow, but the time frame decreases as the temperatures continue to rise. Additionally, it's important to remember that factors like the breed, age, size and overall health of an animal also plays a major role in their ability to tolerate hot temperatures.

For instance, if your pet is a larger breed or a brachycephalic breed (those with flat snouts like bulldogs, boxers, pugs, etc.) they will not be able to maintain their core temperature for as long as those with longer snouts or smaller body sizes. Similarly, dogs below six months old and those considered sick or elderly are also more prone to overheating or hyperthermia.

Ways to Help Your Pet Stay Cool

Keep Pets Cool & Hydrated
Credit: Heidi Kaye, Townsquare Media

Shade and ample water can help to keep your pet’s core temperature at a normal level for longer, but it's extremely important that you limit their time outdoors as temperatures continue to rise throughout the coming months.

Just like with humans, giving them breaks in air conditioning can greatly help to regulate their temperatures. Furthermore, schedule your walks and play times in the early mornings and late evenings when temperatures are generally more comfortable.

What Not to Do

For those with dogs that have double coats, you may think that an obvious answer would be to shave their coat to help keep them stay cool. Do not do this! It will come as a surprise to many, but that beautiful, thick coat actually helps them to regulate their body temperature in both cold and hot conditions.

The American Kennel Club notes that "their coat traps the air closest to the skin and keeps it the same temperature as their ideal body temperature." Shaving them will increase their likelihood of heatstroke and add the risk of sunburn. Instead, keep them well-groomed and follow the recommendations above.

Not Following Some Guidelines Can Now Bring Legal Ramifications

Texas is known for its triple-digit heat. That's why Governor Greg Abbott signed the Safe Outdoor Dogs Act. This went into effect in January of 2022. It states that dogs can no longer be chained up outside. In addition, they must be provided with adequate shelter for dangerous weather conditions, as well as access to clean water. This is considered a Class C misdemeanor and will result in a $500 fine. There's also no longer a waiting period for law enforcement to act when they see this new law being broken.

I absolutely love that this law is in place. When you buy or adopt a pet, they should be treated as a member of your family, not a fixture in your backyard.

Over the next few days and months, make sure to pay attention to the temperatures and ensure that your furry friends stay safe and cool!

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