By LOIS KINDLE
The dog days of summer are here early this year, with devastatingly hot temperatures driving most of us indoors.
But humans aren’t the only ones who need to be wary. Dogs are also especially vulnerable to the searing heat.
We’ve all seen people walking their pets during the hottest hours of the day, which exposes the pads on their paws to burns, dehydration and even heatstroke.
According to the nonprofit organization PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, just a few minutes of contact with hot pavement can seriously injure a dog’s sensitive paws.
So before you head outside with your four-legged friend, place your hand or bare foot on the driveway or sidewalk and hold it there for 10 seconds. If it’s too hot for you, it’s too hot for your dog.
The temperature outdoors is no indication of how hot the pavement is. For example, even when the outdoor temperature is only in the 80s, as the heat index climbs, the pavement or asphalt can reach more than 135 degrees. That’s high enough to cause severe burns and permanent damage with minimal contact.
Keep in mind hot sidewalks or streets also reflect heat onto a dog’s body, which increases the risk of heatstroke.
According to PETA and a number of other reputable online resources, here are some additional ways to protect our canine friends.
• Walks your pets in the early morning or latter part of the evening.
• Keep them on dirt or grass and in the shade, if possible.
• Take a break in a shady spot before moving on with your walk.
• Your dog should always have access to fresh water.
Remember, dogs can’t sweat like we do. They actually sweat through glands in their paws and cool down by panting. Heavy panting, however, can be a sign of distress. Others include a long, curled-up tongue, excessive drooling, excessive thirst, dry or sticky gums, abnormal gum color and disorientation.
Another caution: animals should never be left in vehicles when it’s hot outside. Even when the car is parked in the shade and the window is cracked, the temperature inside can rise rapidly, and a dog can quickly die of heatstroke.
“The sweltering ‘dog days’ of summer can spell disaster for pups in just a few minutes, so PETA reminds everyone to ‘put palm to pavement’ before starting walks, keep dogs indoors during the hottest parts of the day and never leave animals tethered outside or locked in hot cars,” said Catie Cryar, PETA assistant manager of communications. “And since the stakes are as high as the temperatures, anyone who spots a dog in [a] life-or-death situation should take immediate action…”
Remember, if it’s too hot for you, it’s too hot for your dog. Your pet depends on you for its safety.