As the heat of summer quickly takes over the Lowcountry,
make sure to keep your pets protected!
By Dr. Parker T. Barker
There has been a lot in the media recently about not leaving your dogs in hot cars during the summer. And I truly hope you got that message. Don’t do it. Your dog or cat could die. But are you aware of another issue relative to the heat we dogs face? Didn’t think so.
Do you have any idea how hot the cement and sidewalks can get in the summer heat? Depending on the surface, they can range from about 125 degrees to 140 degrees. Bricks, cement, asphalt all heat up between peak times of 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. You wear shoes. We don’t so our feet are coming in contact with that scorching footing all the time. You know that I can injure my feet if I step on something sharp – around here oyster shells are a problem. And leather car seats that have been sitting in the sun can get as high as 155 degrees. No joke. That is seriously hot and I would like to request something to sit on when we ride in the car. But unlike the obvious wounds like when I stepped on that piece of broken glass, burned pads may not be apparent to the eye, at least initially.
So what should you, as a good dog Mom, look for?
• limping or refusing to walk
• licking or chewing at the feet
• pads darker in color
• missing part of pad
• blisters or redness
And remember, if I have been out swimming all day, my pads are even softer than usual and therefore more susceptible to burning.
The healing process for a pup with burned footsies is pretty much the same as for their parents, stay off of it (yeah, that’s easy to do), keep it clean and bandaged, put on an antiseptic to prevent infection, and go to the vet at the first opportunity so they can determine just how bad the burns are. Your pet might need antibiotics or pain medication.
But my best advice is to simply be aware that you are asking your pet to walk on a hot surface in their bare feet. Avoid burnt paw pads by avoiding hot surfaces all together. If you have somebody else walking your dog, like a dog sitter, make sure they are keeping your dog on cooler ground as well. Try walking in a grassy area or somewhere that’s shady. Or walk before or after the heat of the day. There are several lotions that can provide relief from burned paws and many of them are organic. Again, be safe, and ask your vet before you put anything on your pet and make sure they can’t lick it off so a sock can come in handy, assuming he doesn’t want to eat the sock. Theo, that one’s for you.
As a general rule of thumb, put your hand on the pavement and if it is hot to you, then it will be hot on your dog’s feet. Be aware of where you are walking with your pet during these hot summer months and be safe. You wouldn’t walk barefooted on super- hot asphalt, so don’t ask your dog to either. Man, that hurts!
Dr. Parker T. Barker received his doctorate in Squirrel Chasing and Hoovering from the University of Hartford, CT Rescue Center. He lives on Lady’s Island with his sister, Peanut and their great Mom. Prof. Percy Pussycat is a trained animal behaviourist and received his degree from the Canine and Cat Institute in London. He lives in Shell Point with his brother, Harley and devoted human family.