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Health info

SUMMER PAW INJURIES

The typical British summer isn’t always as hot as we’d like but when temperatures do soar it’s important to be a prepared pet parent!


HOT PAVEMENTS 

http://imgur.com/gallery/qwrKn6o

To prevent heatstroke and sunburn, it’s recommended that dogs are walked in the mornings and evenings, but there is another reason for walking them at cooler times of the day. Hot tarmac and concrete can burn your dog’s feet causing blisters and redness. According to a study by Berens (1970), published in the Journal of American Medical Association, when the air temperature is 77 degrees F (25 degrees C), the temperature of asphalt (tarmac) can be up to 125 degrees F, which is hot enough to start causing damage to your dog’s feet.
Unlike humans that sweat, dogs mainly use panting to cool down but do sweat from their foot pads when it’s very warm. Sweaty or wet feet (if your dog has been swimming) can soften the pads making them more susceptible to damage from hot pavements. As a general rule if you put the back of your hand to the ground and you cannot keep it there for more than 5 seconds then it’s too hot for your dog’s feet.


SIGNS OF DAMAGE TO THE PADS

  • ·Limping or refusing to walk
  • ·The top thickened layer of the pad may be missing or will look like it is starting to peel away. 

  • ·Blistered or bleeding pads 

  • ·Licking the feet (which can make the problem worse).

PREVENTION

Try to walk at cooler times of the day or walk your dog on the grass or shaded areas instead of tarmac or concrete. If your dog absolutely has to go out then covering the feet with dog boots or paw wax may help. Never get them to run on hard surfaces in the summer, grass or wet sand are good alternatives.

As a general rule if you put the back of your hand to the ground and you cannot keep it there for more than 5 seconds then it’s too hot for your dog’s feet.

treatment

Even the most laid back dog may be a bit grumpy if he is in pain. Therefore, it’s good to bear in mind, when handling your dog that any damage to the feet can be extremely painful and he or she may react differently to usual. For mild burns you should stand your dog in some cool water to help ease the discomfort or press a cold wet cloth against the pads. Afterwards, pat the feet dry (don’t rub) and you can apply some antibacterial cream or paw balm. However, if you see signs of blisters, bleeding or your dog is limping then more intensive care is needed and a trip to your vet is necessary. Your dog’s pads may need thorough cleaning, bandaging and topical medication. Your vet may also prescribe some pain relief and/or antibiotics.


FURTHER READING AND REFERENCES

Hot Feet: Protect your dog’s feet from getting burned on hot pavement

Pet Talk with Dr. B: Hot Asphalt can burn pet feet

Thermal Contact Burns From Streets and Highways, James J. Berens, MDJAMA. 1970;214(11):2025-2027 

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