The City of Brownsville's Public Health Department and Police Department are rightly urging pet owners to take precautions and keep a close eye on their pets during hot weather.
It is important for pet owners to be aware of the potential dangers that excessive heat can pose to their outside pets. High temperatures can lead to heat exhaustion or heat stroke in animals, which can be life-threatening.
The National Weather Service in Brownsville/Rio Grande Valley predicts Brownsville, and the rest of the Rio Grande Valley will continue to experience excessive heat through the week.
“Owning a pet is a huge responsibility and knowing how to care for a pet is first. Put yourself in your pet's shoes, and if you think it is not a comfortable, suitable place then it isn't for your pet. Pets only know how to love and do not betray that by abusing them,” said Investigator Martin Sandoval, spokesman for the Brownsville Police Department.
Pet owners who fail to provide proper care for their pets during times of excessive heat could face criminal charges.
The Texas Penal Code states a person can be charged with cruelty to an animal if they fail to provide the necessary food, water, care, or shelter required to maintain the animal in good health.
“Heat stroke poses a serious risk to dogs during the hot summer months. Dogs with short snouts, thick fur, those that are overweight or those with respiratory issues are especially at-risk. Bring your animals indoors and ensure that they have plenty of water. If it is too hot for you it is too hot for them,” said Dr. Antonio Cadwell, deputy director of animal services for the City of Brownsville Public Health Department and Brownsville Animal Regulation and Care Center.
Here are some tips from the American Red Cross to help keep pets safe during periods of excessive heat:
- Provide ample shade: Ensure that your outside pets have access to shade throughout the day. This could be in the form of trees, covered patios, or dog houses.
- Plenty of water: Make sure your pets have a constant supply of fresh, cool water available at all times. Check the water bowl regularly to ensure it is filled and not overheated.
- Limit exercise: Avoid strenuous exercise or play sessions during the hottest parts of the day. Instead, schedule activities in the early morning or late evening when temperatures are cooler.
- Avoid hot surfaces: Asphalt and concrete can become extremely hot and burn your pet's paws. Try to walk your pets on grass or other cooler surfaces to prevent injuries.
- Never leave pets in a parked car: Even with the windows cracked, the temperature inside a parked car can reach dangerous levels within minutes. Never leave your pets unattended in a vehicle.
- Monitor for signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke: Symptoms may include excessive panting, drooling, rapid breathing, weakness, vomiting, diarrhea, or collapse. If you notice any of these signs, move your pet to a cooler area immediately and seek veterinary care.
- Open windows or doors are a temptation for pets to try and get outside. Keep all doors and unscreened windows closed, and make sure screens are tightly secured