Have you ever tried crossing hot pavement during the summer, dancing and skipping as it burns your feet? Pavement is blistering to bare feet, which is why we wouldn’t dream of walking across hot pavement without our shoes. Why would we expect any differently of our pets?
Asphalt temperatures can run 40-60°F higher than that of the air outside, meaning that even an 80°F day could be enough to damage your pet’s feet.
Asphalt in direct sunlight at peak times on a hot day can result in scalding temperatures:
|Air Temperature||Asphalt Temperature|
Damages to Skin
At 125°F, asphalt is hot enough to cause burns to your pet’s paws in just 60 seconds.
1st degree burns = paw pads are red and swollen
2nd degree burns = blisters appear
3rd degree burns = charred skin
The best thing you can do to protect your pet from hot asphalt is to avoid walking them during peak times when the pavement is hottest. Asphalt cools down in the morning and later at night when the air temperature is cooler, so you want to avoid walking your pet between 10am and 2pm.
Apply the “Seven-second rule” when deciding if it is too hot to walk your pet. The process is simple: simply place the back of your hand against the asphalt for seven seconds. If it is too hot for you to keep your hand there, then it is too hot for your pet!
Even when walking pets at cooler times of the day, there are ways to protect your pet:
- Apply pet sunscreen to their paw pads
- Walk your pet in grass when possible
- Provide your pet with a set of booties to protect their paws from the heat
Heat stroke is an extremely dangerous emergency that can have life-threatening effects on your pet. Dogs and cats are not able to sweat like humans to get rid of excess heat. Instead, they rely on panting to cool themselves off. When panting is not enough, their internal temperature rises dangerously quickly and can lead to heat stroke.
Unfortunately, one of the most common causes of heat stroke occurs when an animal is left in a vehicle. Similarly to asphalt, the interior temperature of a car rises rapidly compared to the outside temperature. Leaving a window cracked does little to alleviate high temperatures, so if you are not able to keep the AC running for your pet while in the car, it is best to leave them at home.
Temperatures inside a car can rise in just minutes:
|Temperature Inside a Car After 60 Minutes|
|Outside Air Temperature||Car Temperature|
Other causes include:
- Excessive exercise on hot days
- Leaving a pet outside for long periods of time without access to shade or water
Most at Risk
- Breeds of dogs with short snouts such as Pugs, Bulldogs, Boxers, or Boston terriers
- Overweight or obese dogs
- Cats that become trapped in unknown areas such as an attic
- Excessive panting
- Muscle tremors or seizures
- Vomiting and diarrhea
- Ataxia, collapse, and loss of consciousness
- NEVER leave your pet in the car
- Provide your pet with plenty of shade and water
- Avoid over-exercising your pet on hot, humid days
Heat stroke is an emergency. Begin by moving your pet into a cool and shaded area and cool their head, stomach, and feet with cool water-NEVER USE COLD WATER. Transport your pet immediately to a veterinary facility where they can be monitored and treated with fluids and oxygen to help lower their temperature.
Stings and Bites
Preventatives are especially important during the summer months because pets are more likely to be pestered by insects. Ticks and fleas are more prevalent in the hotter months, so preventatives will aid in keeping these pests at bay.
Pets are also more likely to be stung by bees that may cause an allergic reaction. If you notice any sudden swelling or itching of your pet, they should be brought to a veterinary facility immediately to be assessed for an allergic reaction. Do not wait until symptoms grow worse and it is too late.
For pets that like to go hiking or roam around the wilderness, snake bites can be a problem. Even if the snake is not venomous, the bite will cause swelling and bruising which may lead to infection if not treated. If the pet is bitten by a venomous snake, the situation is more serious and may become fatal. The pet will need to be seen by a veterinarian immediately because symptoms include disorders of the heart, lungs, or kidneys, as well as tissue and blood vessel damage, bleeding disorders, and shock.
Always provide your pet with fresh water to drink and don’t allow them to drink from ponds, lakes, rivers, or oceans. Not only may they contain parasites that are dangerous to your pet, consuming too much salt water will lead to dehydration and may cause vomiting and diarrhea.
When swimming, use a floatation device to keep your pet safe. Spray them off with fresh water after their swim as this will prevent chlorine or salt from causing skin irritation.
Holidays and Gatherings
Pets are especially known to bolt during the summer as there is an increase in thunderstorms and firework celebrations. July 4th is the most common day of the year for animals to become lost as they try to escape the loud noises.
When you are anticipating loud noises such as fireworks or thunder, keep pets inside a quiet, secure area. This will prevent them from becoming lost when they become afraid and anxious. It is also a good idea to have your pet microchipped in the event that they do become lost.
Holidays are a prime time for pets to consume things that may harm them. Do your best to keep them away from any firework residue as it can cause burns or poisoning. Keep them away from any food at get-togethers and do not offer them human treats as they may harm them.
Summertime is an adventure for everyone. It is an exciting time to do things you’ve never done before, and include your pet in your experiences! We all want what is best for our pets, so be sure to include these practices to keep your furry friend safe.