Keeping Your Pets Cool in Hot Weather

It's important to protect pets from the heat to avoid heatstroke, which can be difficult to treat once it begins, and can be life threatening. Please observe and share the following guidelines and resources for keeping pets cool in hot weather.

Steps to keep your pets cool

  • Don't leave your pets in a parked car, even while running. Learn what to do if you see a dog in a hot car.
  • Make sure your pets have access to plenty of water at all times.
  • Place some ice in their water bowl.
  • Provide an outdoor pool filled with cool (but not cold) water.
  • Know that pets are cooled primarily by panting and the pads of their paws, and fans do little to cool them off.
  • Avoid excessive exercise with your pet in the heat.
  • Seek air conditioning, shade, and avoid putting your pet in direct sunlight for long periods of time.
  • If your pet appears to be panting excessively (or if your cat is panting at all), wrap them in a wet towel, and see the symptoms and treatment for Heatstroke below.
  • While lakes, rivers, and streams are popular spots to cool off with dogs, be aware of potential toxic algae blooms.

Walking Dogs

  • Avoid walking dogs on hot pavement and sidewalks, which can burn the pads of their paws. Choose walking routes on grass or dirt if possible when the temperature is 80 degrees or higher.
  • Test surfaces before walking dogs. Place your hand on the sidewalk or pavement for ten seconds. If it is too hot to hold your hand to the surface, it is too hot to walk your dog on the surface.

Pets in Hot Cars

If you see or hear about a pet in a hot car, it's important to respond immediately. Lives are at stake.

  • Call the Multnomah County Animal Services Dispatch at (503) 988-7387.
    • Dispatchers will ask you about what you observe, and advise of next steps: Is the vehicle in the shade or the sun? Does the animal appear to exhibit any of the signs of heatstroke?
  • Animal Control Officers and municipal police departments will respond to assist you.
  • Citizens are legally permitted to enter a vehicle and remove pets or children in imminent danger of suffering harm if certain requirements are met, as per Oregon HB 2732. Multnomah County Animal Services or law enforcement must be notified of your emergency entry into the vehicle prior to or soon after the pets are removed. You must also remain with the removed pets in a safe location near the vehicle until Animal Services or law enforcement arrives.

Heatstroke Symptoms and Treatment for Dogs

Symptoms of heatstroke in dogs include excessive panting, glassy eyes, weakness, fast heart rate, drooling, seizures, vomiting, diarrhea, and a body temperature over 104 F. If you think your dog may have heatstroke, here's what to do to help:

  • Move your dog inside or to a shady spot.
  • Submerge your dog in cool water (avoid cold water, which constricts blood vessels) or apply ice packs or cold towels to your dog's chest, neck, and head. Don't spray your dog with a yard hose -- on hot days the water inside a hose can reach near boiling temperatures. You want to cool him off gradually.
  • Give your dog cool, not cold, water. Or give him ice cubes to lick.
  • After you've started cooling your dog down, take your dog to the vet immediately. Heatstroke can cause life-threatening damage to your pet's internal organs if left untreated.

The best way to manage heatstroke is to avoid it. Never leave your pet in a parked car. It's better to leave your pet at home than to risk heatstroke. At home, be sure to provide all pets with shade and water or a way to get inside during the hottest part of the day. “Heat Stroke and Hyperthermia in Dogs.”

Heatstroke Symptoms and Treatment for Cats

  • Rapid pulse and breathing
  • Redness of the tongue and mouth
  • Vomiting
  • Lethargy
  • Stumbling, staggering gait
  • Rectal temperature is over 105° F

If your cat is just starting to show signs of being stressed by the heat, move him to a cool quiet place and be sure he has plenty of water. If your cat is still conscious but showing signs of heat exhaustion, immediately take him to a cool environment, soak him with cool water and let him drink all the water that he wants. Then, take him to a veterinarian immediately. If your cat is found unconscious in a hot environment, soak him with cool (not cold) water, being careful to keep the water out of the nose and mouth. Place a bag of ice or frozen veggies between the legs and get your cat to a veterinarian immediately. “Heat Stroke in Cats.”

County cooling centers

Pets are welcome at Multnomah County Cooling Centers when they are activated, but there is limited kennel space available. Visit to find out Cooling Centers activation status.

Learn more about ways to keep cool for you and your pet or call the HELPLINE at Multnomah County Aging, Disability and Veterans' Services: 503-988-3646 or 711 (for the hearing-impaired) for more information. You can also call 211 info. 

Other resources during hot weather

Learn about more tips and resources to stay cool from Multnomah County.

Help For When It's Hot

Community Resources
Dog at beach
Dog panting while sitting in a kiddie pool
Cat panting in a hammock
Tips to help for when it's hot