The summer months while beautiful can present unexpected health concerns for your furry loved one. As the Arizona summer further progresses so does the temperature and the health concerns it brings.
During the summertime, owners should be cautious during walks, as the sidewalks can reach dangerous temperatures. Shockingly, asphalt temperatures can be 60℉ hotter than the air temperature (ElleVet Sciences, 2021)! A walk on a supposedly harmless 86℉ day can have asphalt temperatures of 135℉. Importantly, a dog only needs to be in contact with a surface of 125℉ for 60 seconds for their paw pads to burn (ElleVet Sciences, 2021).
Watch out, during Arizona summers it is almost impossible for pets to walk safely without taking precautions. For instance, a typical summer morning of 90℉ can still have asphalt temperatures of 140℉ (ElleVet Sciences, 2021). It is imperative that dog owners take precautions for the extreme heat or pets can experience severe burns. Dogs who are suffering from paw pad burn may limp, have blisters, have extreme redness, be missing parts of their paw pads, or refuse to walk (ElleVet Sciences, 2021).
To know if the concrete or asphalt is safe to walk on, conduct the seven-second test. To do this, place the back of your hand on the ground if you cannot hold it there for seven seconds the ground is dangerously hot. Conduct this test multiple times during your walk as temperatures can rise to unsafe degrees during the progression of the walk (ElleVet Sciences, 2021). Mastering the seven-second test throughout your walks with your pet will help ensure your pet's continued safety and is your best defense against burns.
There are some other precautions owners can take. First, walk your dog before 10 am or after 7 pm to avoid peak temperatures (ElleVet Sciences, 2021). Another step you can take is to walk on grass rather than heat-conducting surfaces like concrete or asphalt. However, well-fitting, thick-soled shoes made for dogs are the best way to protect pets from paw pad burn, along with the seven-second test (ElleVet Sciences, 2021).
Protecting your dog's paws during the summer is of the utmost importance as one of the ways dogs regulate their body temperature is by sweating (panting is the main way of regulating temperature). Unfortunately, dogs can only sweat with their paws and if they are injured the dog's ability to regulate their body temperature is slightly affected.
While early mornings can be cool by noon the temperature can quickly become dangerous. Heat stroke or hyperthermia is caused by an elevated internal body temperature. Typically, our furry friends have an internal body temperature of 101.0°F to 102.5 °F; however, the extreme heat of the Arizonan summer can quickly increase a dog’s body temperature to unsafe levels (Toorak Road Veterinary Clinic, 2021). At 104.0 °F dog owners are recommended to seek veterinary care. Heat stroke is considered to start at 105.0°F when a dog can no longer regulate their internal body temperature (Cornell University, 2023). Heat stroke damages every organ in the body and can lead to death (Cornell University, 2023).
Some key warning signs of a dog entering heat stroke are excessive panting, abnormal gum color, disorientation, drooling, vomiting, weakness, and collapse (Williams & Ward, 2023). Dogs that are older, overweight, double-coated, dark-coated, have respiratory conditions, or have short muzzles are at an increased risk of developing heat stroke (Cornell University, 2023).
If your dog is experiencing heat stroke please seek veterinary care immediately. Cooling the animal with cool tap water and air conditioning can help as the pet is taken to an emergency veterinarian. In addition, continually applying and replacing wet cloths over the chest, armpits, head, and feet can help during the drive (Williams & Ward, 2023). Please know that animals who have experienced heat stroke will always have an increased risk of developing heat stroke again (Cornell University, 2023).
There are some precautions you can take to protect your pet from heat stroke. Firstly, during peak temperatures limit the amount of time your dog is outside. Secondly, ensure that while your dog is outside they have access to shade and water (Williams & Ward, 2023). Another precaution one can take is to not leave your furry loved one in the car without ac, as pets can die from heatstroke in just 15 minutes according to the national weather service (McCain, 2022). Even with the windows cracked the temperature inside the car can increase 80% in just 10 minutes (Kids and Cars Safety, 2020).
Hopefully, with the above information in mind you and your pets can have a paw-some summer while staying safe!