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Leaving dogs tethered outside illegal in Virginia when temperatures reach 85 degrees or higher

Since excessive heat can cause significant health problems for our four-legged friends, Virginia has some laws to make sure pets stay healthy outside.

NORFOLK, Va. — Author's note: The video above is about staying cool during the summer months. It aired on July 6.

The temperatures are getting hot in Hampton Roads, which means it's especially important to keep an eye on your dogs' health this week.

An area of high pressure, also known as Bermuda High, is drawing hot and humid air from the south into the region. The temperature highs are forecasted to be in the 90s throughout the week and the heat indices could reach triple digits.

Since excessive heat can cause significant health problems for our four-legged friends, Virginia has some laws to make sure pets stay healthy outside.

Under state law, companion animals aren't allowed to be tethered outside when the temperature is 85 degrees or higher, or 32 degrees or lower.

Along with the temperature requirements, the law states that outdoor tethering of companion animals isn't considered "adequate shelter" during certain weather conditions, including:

  • A hurricane warning or tropical storm warning issued by the National Weather Service.
  • A heat advisory issued by a local or state authority.
  • A severe weather warning issued by the National Weather Service (Ex. winter storm, tornado or severe thunderstorm).

The law also says outdoor tethering can be considered adequate shelter when the animal "is safe from predators and well suited and well equipped to tolerate its environment."

Violating this part of Virginia law is considered a Class 4 misdemeanor, which could result in a fine of no more than $250.

How to keep your dog cool this summer

The Virginia Beach SPCA has several tips for keeping pets cool and hydrated when it's hot outside:

Find shade for your pet

When outside, give your pet plenty of time in the shade. You can also have a kiddie pool with cool water for your pet.

Protect your pet's paws

Check the pavement with your hand before you leave. If you can’t leave your hand for longer than three seconds, it's too hot for your pet to walk on. 

If you're going to take your pet on a walk, go in the morning or evening when it's cooler outside. If you have to walk your pet, put them in the grass.

Keep your pet hydrated

Make sure your pet has access to fresh and cool water.  If you and your pet will be outside for more than five minutes, bring water and a bowl.

Watch out for a heatstroke

The Virginia Beach SPCA advised watching for heavy panting, excessive water consumption and signs of disorientation.

If your pet is too hot, wet the top of their head with cool water and use a fan to increase the movement of the air.

Don't leave your pet in a car

Cars have the same effect as ovens when turned off. At 94 degrees outside, the inside can get up to 145 degrees.

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