By Janet McAfee

June has arrived bringing scorching temperatures to the Coachella Valley desert terrain.  This is a good time to remind dog owners, pet sitters, and others who work with animals to take precautions when venturing outside.  We need to ensure our four-legged friends are kept healthy and safe during the hot weather.

Local dog lover, Rachel Armstrong, is on mission to educate dog owners about the harm hot sidewalks and pavements pose to our dogs.  Because we humans wear shoes that keep our feet comfortable, we may be oblivious to our dogs’ suffering.  If the ground is too hot for your feet, it’s definitely too hot for your loyal friend’s feet.  If you walk your dog on a hard surface, put your hand on the pavement for 15 seconds, and if this is an “ouch” for you it certainly will burn your best buddy.  Rachel is designing hand out cards for distribution to pet stores, vet clinics, and other businesses alerting pet owners to this danger.

Burned paws may not be readily apparent.  If your dog is limping, refusing to walk further, licking or chewing on his feet, check his paws.  Keep long walks for the cooler morning and evening times. If possible, walk your dog only on grassy areas.  Dogs cool down their body temperature through panting, and then shed that heat through their paws.

Conscientious dog owners can purchase summer doggie boots that allow their pets to walk comfortably on hot pavement.  These are available in different price ranges online and in specialty pet boutiques.  I like the doggie boots on www.pawposse.com as they reflect over 75 degrees of heat.  These boots are specially designed with foam pads for comfortable fit, and the mesh on the upper section allows for breathing.  Their traction allows for walking on hot pavement, asphalt, stones, boat docks, and sand.

Prevention is key.  Take your dog for walks in the early morning and after the sun starts to go down.  The greatest danger from sun exposure occurs between 10:00 am and 4:00 pm.  When your pup needs to go outside for potty breaks, seek out grassy and shaded areas.  Check all hard surfaces with your hand first.

Here are some additional tips to keep Benji safe this summer:

DON’T LEAVE YOUR DOG IN THE CAR

We recall the shocking news story two years ago when a Palm Desert veterinarian left his German Shepherd in the car outside his clinic.  Apparently he got sidetracked, and forgot about his dog that died a horrendous death.  When the outside weather is only 72 degrees, the temperature inside a car parked in the sunlight can heat up quickly to 116 degrees.

AVOID STRENUOUS EXERCISE IN HOT WEATHER

Strenuous exercise in warm weather is the primary cause of heat stroke in dogs.  Brachycephalic breeds with short noses such as Pugs, Bulldogs, and Pekingese, and large dogs with heavy coats are at greatest risk.  Hot summers are no time to have your dog run alongside while you jog or bicycle.

 KEEP DOGS INSIDE IN EXTREME WEATHER

Outdoor dog houses are not safe for dogs in Coachella Valley summers.  If you must leave your dog outside for short periods, provide a small wading pool with fresh water for him to cool off.  Dogs must be brought inside the home to protect them from heat stroke and needless suffering when desert temperatures rise.

USE CHILDREN’S SUNSCREEN TO PREVENT SUNBURN TO DOGS

Dogs most at risk are those with white short fur and lighter colored noses.  They can get sunburned resulting in ulcerated skin, skin damage, and even skin cancer.  Use the spray on sunscreen intended for children on areas where the hair is thin, taking care to avoid your dog’s eyes.

Rachel Armstrong suggests dog lover’s google “Burned Paws” to see the type of damage that can be inflicted when a pup is walked on a hot sidewalk or street.  Rachel states, “These dogs are helpless, they have no voice, and they count on us to keep them safe.”  HOT GROUND EQUALS BURNT PAWS!

Jmcafee7@verizon.net

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