KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — While many families might be eager to spend some time in the sun, their pets may not share their excitement.
As temperatures crawl higher, pavement can get hot too. For most people, this may not be an issue since most shoes insulate people's feet. Yet, pets don't wear shoes most of the time and so pet owners can accidentally cause their four-legged friends to be burned.
Pavement can reach temperatures that are 40 - 60 degrees Fahrenheit hotter than the air temperature. So, if it's 80 degrees outside — the pavement can be as hot as 120 degrees!
"If they're showing they're reluctant to walk on the pavement, believe them," said Leslie Wereszcak, a veterinary medical technician. "Don't force them to walk on a hot surface. They might have some signs of limping after or licking at their paw pads like something is bothering them."
If pets are showing signs of distress, owners should take a look at their paws. Burned paws usually look darker, and if owners notice them they should try to keep pets off their feet for a few days as they heal. Owners can also use antibacterial soap and rinse their pets' paws.
They can also pour an antiseptic, such as hydrogen peroxide or betadine, over the pad and allow it to air dry.
To avoid burned paws, owners can walk their pets near sunrise or just at sundown, in the cooler parts of the day. They can also stick to the grass, avoiding pavement when with their pets as much as possible.
As a rule of thumb — if you wouldn't walk barefoot on something, neither should your pets!
Temperatures over 90 degrees can also cause significant issues for pets, even if they're in the shade and have water. Families should not leave their pets out unsupervised for more than two hours in the heat, according to veterinary experts.
Long-haired dogs can also be especially susceptible to heatstroke in intense heat. To keep them cool, pet owners can purchase a cooling mat. Adding ice cubes to pets' water can also help them stay cool.
They should also never leave them in a car unattended. Even with the windows down, experts say temperatures can rise to over 120 degrees Fahrenheit in just 15 minutes during an 80-degree day.
If a pet seems lethargic or is panting or drooling excessively, pet owners should immediately start trying to cool them down or contact a veterinarian. They are the first signs of a heat stroke.