Oh gracious, can you all believe the heat? It has been in the triple digits, the bugs have been out, the cement is burning hot, all making it very unpleasant outside for us. Now imagine, most of the time we have shoes on when we go outside because that pavement is just TOO hot for our feet. Many don’t think about this in terms of our babies/our animals. Their pads CANNOT withstand a lot of heat and it will burn them just like it will burn our feet. Look at these sad pictures of two different dog’s pads after their paws were burnt on the hot cement.
I am now so grateful that GDB sends each new guide dog team home with a pair of shoes. I was joking with my Mom last night because I know dog shoes are NOT one size fits all and I’ve never sized a dog’s paws before. I bet I could figure it out but that’s still a pretty funny concept. Unless it is literally a five second or less trip into the store or place we’re going, I try my hardest nowadays to have Makiko’s shoes on her. It’s just too hot!
I have done a lot of research about taking care of your dog’s feet during the summer. Dog’s paws/pads do toughen up over time as they walk on many different types of surfaces. However, they never quite “toughen up” enough to be burned. Burned paw pads are extremely painful for dogs. Even so, apparently we may not always know that they have been injured, while they are in extreme pain. Oh how sad! Signs that your dog might have burned pads are: limping or not wanting to walk, favoring a certain foot, the pad being dry, different color (usually darker) or shape (missing parts of the pad), other abnormalities on the pads such as blisters or other marks, and licking or biting their foot to try and make it a little more comfortable. This could lead to an infection.
If you think your dog’s feet have been burned, take them to a cooler area off of cement, metal, ground, etc. Call the vet and tell them you think your dog’s paws are burned and you need to get in as soon as possible. In the meantime, there were two different suggestions: 1) flush the burns with cool water or put something cool on them or 2) Use an anti-bacterial wash. To prevent infection, even though it may provide the dog some comfort, try and make sure they don’t lick or chew their pads. Your dog may need to be put on antibiotics and/or pain meds. The paw can be a very sensitive area because of the blood vessels and it is also very hard to heal. Severe injury, not necessarily by burning but just any injury, could lead to the vet needing to remove a pad. This could be very detrimental to a guide dog’s work and the independence of the guide dog handler, and that is why I am so glad GDB provides us with shoes to prevent this altogether.
An interesting tip I read was that if you carry a small/medium size towel with you and get it wet as you’re leaving a business or location, you can lay it down on the ground for your dog to step on while you’re getting in the car. How clever!
However, I still think the best idea is to get doggie shoes. The brand that we have and LOVE is Ruffwear. They are a little expensive but so worth it. If you go to GDB, check their Store out because they have lower prices generally for guide dog users. Here is Ruffwear’s site that describes the shoes: http://www.ruffwear.com/Barkn-Boots-Grip-Trex_3?sc=2&category=11
Good luck keeping you and your dog safe, happy, and cool this summer. Best wishes!