Protect Your Dog’s Paws in Extreme Heat

When the temperatures rise, so does the surface temperature of concrete.  Ever throw your flip-flops off to run into a pool and nearly burn your feet before you get to the water’s edge? Keep in mind that if pavement and other ground surfaces are too hot for our bare feet, they are also too hot for your fur companion.

Dog’s paw pads can be sensitive and hot sidewalks, asphalt, and even dirt hiking trails can burn a dog’s paws.  If you are not careful, it could be critical enough to warrant medical care and possibly surgery.

Melissa Gable, staff member at Maricopa County Animal Care & Control stated, “I continue to be amazed by the lack of consideration being given to the well-being of our four-legged friends.  I cringe every time I see someone walking their dog in the heat of the day.” 

There has already been one case this year at the Arizona Humane Society.  A border collie name Bruce came into the shelter with blistered paws from walking on hot pavement.  Someone found him running along the 202 Red Mountain freeway on May 5.  The temperatures in the valley that day reached 108 degrees.

When the air temperature is that high, the pavement is much hotter.  The temperature of Bruce’s paws was measured at 160 degrees.

Emergency Animal Medical Technicians (EAMTs) picked Bruce up from the Arizona Humane Society to find him with four blistered paws which were also burned from running on the hot pavement.  Bruce healed up after spending two weeks in the Second Chance Animal Trauma Hospital receiving medical treatment.

This is a reminder to all of us that the outdoors, especially in hot climates such as Phoenix, can pose dangerous for pets in the summer months and we need to take care of their needs.

If you have a furry friend you are advised to:

  • Avoid long walks and hikes (especially in the high heat of mid-day)
  • Walk your dog early in the morning or late in the evening
  • If your dog has to go outside mid-day, use protective booties
  • Test the ground with your own foot.  If you can’t hold your bare foot on the ground for seven seconds, it is too hot for your pet.

If you suspect your dog’s paws may have been burned here is how you can recognize the symptoms:

  • Dog is limping or avoiding walking
  • Dog is licking or chewing his feet
  • His paw pads are darker than usual
  • You can see visible damage on the paw pads
  • You see blisters or redness 

What should you do?  If you think your dog may have burned his paws:

  • Bring your dog out of the heat.  Carry him if he does not seem to want to walk
  • Use a cold compress on his feet or pour cold water over them
  • Attempt to keep your dog from licking the affected pad
  • Since burns can become affected, take your dog to the vet.  The vet may prescribe antibiotics or pain medication if the burn is severe. 

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