Protect those paws: How to keep your pets safe in extreme heat


MEMPHIS, Tenn.— The heat is not just taking a toll on humans. Pets want to play, but with heat indexes in the 100s, time outside can be tricky. 

“They’re probably gonna want to keep playing because they, you know, they don’t really know any better,” said dog owner Ben Moore. “But you got to make them take a break, relax before they over exert themselves, you know.”

Dr. Angie Zinkus, Medical Director at Germantown Parkway Animal Hospital, says dogs’ paws are especially susceptible to the heat.

“The big thing we have to remember about dogs, is they don’t have sweat glands like us. They sweat out of their paw pads and by panting. So these little paw pads, when they touch that concrete, it’s very hot outside, and that can heat up their bodies as well,” Zinkus said. “If you’ve ever walked outside barefoot in and felt that on the concrete, yeah wow, that’s hot. That’s how they, their whole, you know, mechanism to release heat and so, and to cool themselves. So if it’s heating up, their body’s just going to heat up with that.”

Dogs’ temperatures can rise rise quickly leading to heat strokes. A sign your pet is in trouble: they collapse and start panting. They may even go into seizures. The doctor says that is when you need to get your pet to the vet as soon as possible.

“During this time in the year we actually keep fluids in the refrigerator for these patients that come in so we can cool them off most effectively,” Zinkus said.

She says walk your dog in the morning, when the pavement is coolest, have access to water like a pool or lake and limit time outside.

“If your dog gets overheated, yeah you can cool them down at home. And by cooling down, I mean not submerging them in ice water, but rather, cooling their paw pads off, which is cool water and cooling them down slowly and then still going to the veterinarian,” said Zinkus. “No dog is safe from the heat that we’re experiencing right now.”

Memphis Animal Services is also urging dog owners to limit outdoor time for their dogs. Those left out in extreme heat could be impounded by Memphis Animal Services.

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