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navigating the summer heat

The summer months are a great time for longer walks and fun outdoor activities with your pup. It does require a little extra carefulness on our part, especially if you’re planning to enjoy some of those beautiful, sunny walks on pavement, or on a particularly hot day. Heatstroke is a real possibility, even on days you might not think are hot. dog’s paw pads are also sensitive and prone to burning and blistering on hot surfaces just like human skin does, so be sure to plan ahead and take the appropriate preventative measures to ensure your pup is safe this summer. Continue reading on to learn more about what conditions need to be avoided, what signs/symptoms to look for, and how to treat them if an emergency does happen.

know before you go

First and foremost, always check the outside temperature. Generally, when the temperature reaches 85 degrees or more without a chance to cool down, it’s unsafe for pets to walk on. Concrete can reach 105 degrees, and asphalt temperatures nearly 130 degrees plus in such conditions.

To test if it’s safe to walk your pet, place the back of your hand on the pavement for at least 10 seconds. if it’s too hot for you, it’s too hot for them!

burned paw pads

Gogs’ paw pads are pretty tough to withstand a variety of different surfaces and high impact activities. However, paw pads are prone to burning when walking or running on hot pavement, and other flat surfaces.

KNOW THE SIGNS:

  • limping
  • licking or chewing paw
  • blisters, peeling, redness
  • darkening of pad*
  • bleeding

*Pads can range color from white to black. know the typical color of your dog’s footpads so you can assess any unusual discoloration.

 

AND TAKE ACTION:

Contact your veterinarian asap for a thorough examination. burn treatment can take time and be complex, so it’s important to consult your veterinarian first. If you’re unable to be seen right away, follow the guidelines below for temporary relief and treatment until your pup can be seen.

  • submerge affected area in cool water
  • clip hair around the area
  • wash affected area with antibacterial soap and/or saline and rinse thoroughly 
  • pat dry
  • apply dog-safe antibiotic ointment
  • wrap the paw to protect the injury

heatstroke

Dogs do not sweat like humans can to cool off.  They cool from vasodilation (blood vessel expansion) and panting, which allows moisture to evaporate from their tongues and the moist lining of their lungs.

When a dog’s body temperature reaches 105 degrees or above, they may be suffering from heatstroke. don’t take heatstroke lightly; the result can be quite scary, such as brain damage or even death. This can affect any dog in such conditions, but it is important to note that longhaired breeds and brachycephalic (short-nosed) breeds, such as pugs and bulldogs, as well as dogs of young and old age are more susceptible. Other contributing factors to keep in mind include the physical fitness of your dog and any medical disorders.

KNOW THE SIGNS:

  • heavy panting
  • rapid breathing
  • excessive drooling
  • increased heart rate
  • collapsing/exhaustion

AND TAKE ACTION:

  • move them to a cool location
  • offer water
  • wet their fur coat with cool water
  • use a fan to blow cool air

And of course, always consult your veterinarian! Dogs suffering from severe heatstroke may require additional medical attention like fluids and oxygen that we are unable to provide, and your veterinarian can monitor for any complications.

alternative activities

TIMING IS EVERYTHING

Plan for those walks during cooler parts of the day, like early mornings or later in the evenings. take your walk slower, bring water, and allow your dog to rest. Watch for body language too. if they’re slower and unenthusiastic, just let them potty and head back inside.

WATER ACTIVITES

Swimming is great exercise, and a great way to help your pup stay cool. IF you do not have access to a full-sized pool, try seeing if your pup will play with a kiddie pool, hose, or a water sprinkler instead. it’ll be a lot of fun for you too!

BRAIN GAMES

If it’s too hot and outdoor activities are just out of the question for the day, there are other great brain games you can use to interact with your dog and help with mental stimulation, such as food dispensing toys, dog puzzle games (many are available to purchase online), food “hunts” in snuffle matts, and more. 

At the end of the day, you want your dog to be happy and healthy. be cautious during those hotter days, look for other fun ways to get your pup moving about safely, and you’ll both have a fantastic summer to look back on!

sources:
  • Blue Cross UK. (2022, May 12). How to keep dogs safe in the heat. Blue Cross . Retrieved June 2, 2022, from https://www.bluecross.org.uk/advice/dog/how-to-keep-dogs-cool-in-the-summer-heat#:~:text=Unlike%20humans%2C%20dogs%20can’t,succumb%20to%20heatstroke%20so%20easily
  • German, A. (2020, July 5). The heat is on: How hot common outdoor surfaces can get in the summer sun. whas11.com. Retrieved June 2, 2022, from https://www.whas11.com/article/weather/storm-team-blog/the-heat-is-on-how-hot-common-outdoor-surfaces-can-get-in-the-summer-sun/417-fc5c9290-7ce9-4498-a7ab-5cfc433f999f
  • Staff, A. K. C. (2017, November 17). First Aid for a dog burns. American Kennel Club. Retrieved June 2, 2022, from https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/first-aid-for-a-dog-burns/