Paw things: Pooches feet suffer in summer heat

PET owners have been lapping up the sun and beach this summer, but a lack of concern shown by some dog owners for their pooches' hot paws is causing public outcry.

"The ground was searing hot today and so many people were burning their dogs makes me so upset," Jazmin Hoffman said in a public Facebook post on Monday that sparked hundreds of reactions and comments.

But is this concern warranted?

Nicklin Way Veterinary Surgery vet Doug Gray says yes...and no.

He said it was unusual for dogs to suffer serious blistering or damage to their feet from hot surfaces like sand or asphalt, but they could be in considerable pain if made to stand on these surfaces for long.

Further, he said, if dogs have been swimming, their paws are more tender and can be damaged when they meet abrasive surfaces.

"If they've been swimming in the water, their pads get soft and the whole pad can blister off," Dr Gray said.

This time of year was very busy at the award-winning Warana vet clinic, especially as many dogs escaped on New Year's Eve with the fireworks.

Skin problems including hot spots, ear infections, flea, tick and mosquito bites were all more common in the hotter months, he said.

Doggy hay fever, known as atopy, is on the rise as more pollen is in the air. Kennel cough - infectious tracheo bronchitis - is also up during these months, as people place their pets in kennels for school holidays.

He said dog owners should not walk their dogs in the heat, should always make sure their pooches have shade and are not left tied up in the sun or left on hot surfaces.

Vet Doug Gray checks out Sandy's paws, which are healthy. But pet owners should know the dangers of heat on dogs and their feet, he says.
Vet Doug Gray checks out Sandy's paws, which are healthy. But pet owners should know the dangers of heat on dogs and their feet, he says. John McCutcheon

Some breeds, including bull dogs which have "pushed-up noses", are more vulnerable in hot weather, he said.

"It's now quite popular to have a bulldog-type breed, but these dogs don't dissipate heat very well," he said.

"That can be fatal. It's really important that they're not exercised when it's really hot."

If your dog is panting or showing distress, assume it's too hot and wet its coat, Dr Gray says.

"If they look out of sorts, I'd assume as a precaution they're overheated," he said.

"Get them under a tap so they cool off a lot quicker."

Topics:  animal health dogs pets pets and animals recreation

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