Many locations throughout the US are experiencing heat waves this week. Last week I posted about why it's very important not to leave pets inside cars during the hot weather. Common sense, right? And what does all this have to do with paws?
You may have noticed, especially if you've walked outside barefoot lately, that surfaces such as pavement and sand can get really hot in the summer sun. Now think about how our poor pets must feel, having to walk on hot surfaces without any type of protection from the heat. Did you know that walking on hot pavement can actually burn pet's feet?
Signs of burned paw pads in a dog include paw pads that look darker than usual, redness, limping, unwillingness to continue walking, blisters, missing sections or loose flaps on the paw pad, ulcerated patches, and excessive licking or chewing of the foot.
If your dog experiences any of those symptoms, the first step should be cooling his/her paws down. Get your pet away from hot surfaces (grass is usually much cooler than pavement) and, if possible, rinse his/her paws with cool water. Burns are very painful, so the best course of action if you think your pet may have burned paws, is a trip to the veterinarian. Depending on how severe the burns are, your vet may prescribe antibiotics and/or pain medication.
The best option, however, is to prevent burns in the first place! Try to avoid surfaces that commonly get excessively hot in the summer, such as metal, sand, and asphalt. If possibly, walk your dog early in the morning or at night after the sun goes down - times when the outdoor temperatures are cooler. If you're not sure whether or not the pavement is too hot for your pet, try testing the temperate with a bare foot or your hand. If the pavement is too hot for you to comfortably stand on it, than chances are it's too hot for your pet as well.
Practice good paw maintenance. It's easier to spot problems on a paw that is normally clean and well kept. If, for some reason, you have to take your dog out during the hottest parts of the day, consider using doggy shoes or boots to protect your dog's feet. You may get some strange looks from the neighbors, but at least your pup won't have to deal with painful paws!