MADISON, WI – Summertime in southcentral Wisconsin can be brutal, especially for city dwellers. The relentless heat seems to radiate off of everything. You can actually see the heat rising from streets and sidewalks. Who on Earth would want to venture out when it’s summer in the city? Your dog, that’s who.
Dogs don’t usually have a whole lot of choice in the matter of staying in vs. going outside to take care of some -ahem- business. But often times it is a long hike across hot surfaces before a dog finds relief in the form of grass or at least a cool, shaded area.
Pavement, asphalt, wood, metal, and sand can get extremely hot during the warm weather months. These materials absorb heat from the sun and can stay hot for hours even after the sunset. Temperatures on these surfaces can exceed 145° F!
“You might think the weather conditions are perfect for going for a walk,” says Lis De Souza, owner of both Serenity Pet Salon & Spas in Madison. “But did you know that if the sun is shining on a 77-degree day, asphalt can heat up to a foot-scalding 125-degrees?”
De Souza reminds us that a dog’s paws are not impervious to heat. She says there are things that good dog parents can do to help their pet withstand the sweltering conditions that could do harm and cause pain.
“This may sound obvious, but the first thing you should do is to simply avoid the heat,” says De Souza. “Go for walks early in the morning or late in the evening to stay out of the midday sun and oppressive heat.” If you must venture out on hot days, try to find a path that is peppered with grassy areas.
A test you can perform to make sure the ground isn’t too hot for you dog is to place the back of your hand on the warm surface. If you can’t keep your hand there for 5-10 seconds, it is too hot for Fido. Your choices in this situation are probably not ideal, but at least they will prevent pain and burning. You could a.) carry your dog across the pavement to a grassy area, b.) load your dog in the car and drive him or her to a park or other venue with cooler ground, or c.) invest in some booties designed to withstand extreme temperatures.
“If you choose to drive your pet to a dog-friendly space, remember that car seats can also get ridiculously hot,” says De Souza. “In this case you should put down a blanket or towel for the dog to stand on during the ride.”
De Souza says that an alternative to booties is paw wax, which can be purchased in most pet stores.
To use, spread the wax on the paws and in between the toes before you head out for a walk.
“It’s not an ideal solution as paw wax can get messy, and you’ll probably need to wipe the paws down when you get home,” says De Souza. “But on the plus side, it should help keep the paws from burning.”
Despite your best efforts to protect your pup’s paws from the blistering heat, there’s always the chance that a burn was unavoidable. You can detect if this is the case by being aware of the signs, like:
· Not wanting to go for walks
· A red or pink color change in the paw pads
· Licking or chewing at the feet
· Missing pieces of the pads
“If any of these signs are prevalent, please get your dog to the vet as soon as possible,” says De Souza. “The vet will likely prescribe antibiotics and pain relievers.”
De Souza says you may be called upon to do some first aid, too, especially if you can’t get in to see your vet right away.
“To provide your pet with some immediate relief, run the paws under cool water or use a cold compress,” she says. “It’s not a cure, but your dog will be in less pain while you wait to see the vet.”
Other hot-weather survival tips for animals include:
· NEVER leave an animal inside a hot vehicle – he or she could die!
· Keep animals indoors if possible
· Avoid hot pavement and other surfaces that absorb the sun’s rays
· Never run with your dog in hot weather
· If you see an animal in distress and are unable to help, alert local authorities immediately
About Serenity Pet Salon & Spa
Lis De Souza has been grooming dogs since 2004. She opened Serenity Pet Spa and Salon in September of 2015. She is a National Certified Master Groomer, a Groom Team USA Member, a National and International Award-Winning Stylist, and she conducts seminars nationwide. Serenity Pet Spa & Salon’s mission is to give pet owners ease of mind by providing a compassionate grooming experience for their loving animals. They have an open and welcoming environment wherein their professional groomers are better able to provide pets with the best care possible. They consider every client a member of their family and they treat every dog like one of their own. They have two locations in Madison: Westside at 6039 Odana Rd. and Eastside at 5550 Eastpark Blvd. To learn more, visit serenitypetspamadison.com.