Protecting Texas' Dogs in Record-Breaking Summer Heat

AUSTIN, TX – As temperatures continue soaring across the state, the Texas Humane Legislation Network (THLN) is offering tips on how Texans can best protect their pets

“In triple-digit heat across our stateit’s not just us humans who feel the impact of the scorching sun,” said Shelby Bobosky, THLN Executive Director. “We have been inundated with calls, emails, and texts from concerned Texans about the laws in these brutally hot conditions and what they can do to help. Our four-legged companions are more susceptible to the dangers of extreme heat, and just like we take precautions to stay safe and comfortable, we must remember that our pets rely on us to protect them.”

The Safe Outdoor Dogs Act passed in 2021 protects dogs tethered outdoors by:
Defining adequate shelter to shield dogs from extreme temperatures and standing water and ensuring the dog can stand, turn around, and lie down.
Requiring access to drinkable water.
Striking the 24-hour waiting period so action can be taken immediately.

If there are heat advisory warnings and you encounter a dog outside without shelter or water, you can:
- Ask your local animal control to do a welfare check. 
Confining an animal in a crate in direct sunlight without shade during extreme heat can be charged as animal cruelty.  

It’s vital to know the signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke in dogs: 
Signs include excessive panting or drooling; rapid heart rate; lethargy or weakness; loss of coordination; bright red gums or tongue; vomiting or diarrhea; and glazed eyes. 
Dogs experiencing heat stroke may collapse, experience seizures, and even loss of consciousness or a coma. 

If you see a dog in a hot car, here’s what you can do:

- Act quickly. On a warm day, the temperature inside a vehicle can increase by 20°F (11°C) within 10 minutes.
- Assess the situation. Where is the car parked? In direct sunlight? What is the current temperature outside? Is the dog showing any signs of stress and symptoms of heat exhaustion or heat stroke? Is the owner nearby?
- Notify authorities. Contact local law enforcement or animal control to report the situation. Ensure you have the exact location, description of the car, and license plate number, if possible. Photos or videos can be helpful to authorities. 
- Spread awareness. Notify nearby businesses or individuals about the situation to raise awareness and potentially locate the car’s owner.
- Continue to monitor the dog. If you can, stay near the car to keep an eye on the dog until help arrives. Note any changes in its condition and update the authorities when they come.

Rendering aid to an animal in heat-related distress will NOT result in civil action against you.
In 2011, THLN passed a law (HB 2471 by Rep. Larry Phillips and Sen. Robert Deuell) that limits the civil liability of a person, an animal control agency, or an animal control agency employee who renders aid to an injured or distressed animal from a civil action brought because of seeking or providing such care.

Dogs’ paw pads can quickly burn on hot pavement. Here’s how you can prevent painful burns: 
- Test the pavement. If you can’t comfortably hold your palm on the pavement for 10 seconds, your dog’s paws risk getting burnt. 
- Walk during cooler times. Schedule walks during the early morning or late evening when the pavement is cooler. Avoid walking during the hottest parts of the day.
- Use protective gear. Use booties or paw wax to provide a barrier between their paws and the hot surface.
- Walk on grass or shaded areas. Choose grassy or shaded routes instead of hot pavement to minimize the risk of burns. 

“By adopting preventive measures and incorporating simple but effective practices during hot temperature months, we can create a safer environment for our furry friends and provide them the care they deserve during these extreme weather conditions,” said Erin Van Landingham, Executive Director of the Texas Humane Network.

Click here for a comprehensive FAQ document. To learn more or to schedule an interview, contact Cara Gustafson at 561-797-8267 or [email protected]

Texas Humane Legislation Network is a 48-year-old organization and is the only Texas-based organization focused on addressing unjust state animal welfare laws.

THLN’s sister organization, Texas Humane Network, was founded in 2020. Texas Humane Network’s mission is to promote the humane treatment of animals through education, outreach, and training.


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