Here’s a 5-second rule for pet owners that you can’t afford to ignore! Did you know that it literally takes less than a minute to burn (& blister) the pads of your dogs’ feet when walking on cement/concrete and pavement surfaces?!
5 Second Rule for Pets
If you’re unsure whether it’s too hot to walk your dog on pavement/asphalt, here’s a quickie test you can try, either step barefoot on the surface or place the back of your hand down on the surface for 5 seconds. If it’s too hot for you, it’s too hot for them.
At just 125°F burning can occur in 60 seconds.
To put it in perspective, and egg can fry in 5 minutes flat at 131°F
Of course, the above temperature correlations will fluctuate depending on variables such as humidity, direct or indirect sun, wind, etc.
Signs of Burned Paw pads include:
- Refusing to walk
- Licking/chewing the feet
- pads that are discolored, often darker in the center than in other areas
- missing part of the pad
Also, just like people, when pets swim the water softens the pads of their feet making them more susceptible to burning.
Place the back of your hand on the pavement. If you cannot hold it for seven seconds, it’s too hot to walk your dog on it! If you’re considering putting socks on as a barrier be sure to watch your dog closely, many dogs will chew (& consequently ingest!) the socks.
What Can you do Instead:
- Limit the dogs’ time on hot asphalt or pavement, walk them in the grass or gravel surfaces.
- Be aware that gravel can get hot too.
- Walk them earlier and later in the day, rather than during the hottest part of the day.
- Bring a towel with you on the walk so if you stop for any length of time the dog can sit or stand on the towel rather than the pavement.
- Use Paw Protection such as booties or Paw Wax
In addition to painfully burned paw pads, pets are also susceptible to heat stroke as well.
Our close friends’ dog (RIP Mud) died last summer following a playful run with the kids when they got back from playing, he collapsed. He was gone before they even made it to the vet. Be aware of the signs of heat stroke (Hyperthermia) in dogs and monitor your pet carefully.
Signs of Heat Stroke in Dogs
- Excessive drooling (ptyalism)
- Increased body temperature – above 103° F (39° C)
- Reddened gums and moist tissues of the body.
- Production of only small amounts of urine or no urine.
- Sudden (acute) kidney failure.
- Rapid or irregular heart rate
- Vomiting (with or without blood)
- Sudden Breathing Distress (tachypnea)
- Bloody Stool
- Muscle Tremors
- Wobbly or drunken movement (ataxia)
- Loss of consciousness
Hyperthermia (aka Heat Stroke) occurs when a dog’s body is overcome with excessive heat and is unable to cool itself down. The dog’s body temperature rises to 103° F (39° C) or more, leading to multiple organ dysfunction and failure if not immediately treated. Long-haired dogs, short-nosed breeds, and flat-faced breeds are even more susceptible to heatstroke.
How to Cool a Dog with suspected Heat Stroke
- Immediately move your overheated pet to a shaded/cool area.
- Remain calm, cool, and collected. Your pet picks up on your emotional state and if you panic, so will he.
- Douse him or her with cool water over the neck and back. It’s imperative that you only use COOL water and NOT COLD water- cooling too rapidly will result in the blood vessels restricting so rapidly that the heat will not be able to dissipate thereby INCREASING the heatstroke and causing Shock.
- If you have access to a towel, soak it in cool water and lay it on the dogs back, abdomen, or in the “armpit” areas.
- Place the paws in cool water.
- Provide cool water to drink, but don’t force your pet to drink.
- Take the dogs temperature every 5 minutes while continuing to use the water-cooling techniques above until his or her body temperature drops below the danger zone of 103° F (39° C)
- Get Veterinary assistance as Heatstroke can cause intestinal bleeding, swelling of the brain, kidney failure, and abnormal blood clotting.
If your pet spends time in a kennel or doghouse while you’re at work, consider getting a pressure activated cooling mat to help keep them cool.