I was recently contacted by some of my readers wanting me to address this very hot, humid weather and its impact on dogs.
There are still stories in the news about dogs being left in hot cars. I remember an incident some years back when I respectfully suggested to a young couple that the car was too hot for their golden retriever to be left inside. They were taken aback and hastened to tell me they had left a bowl of water in the car. They went back to the car and discovered how hot it was. I hope they realized they returned to the vehicle before the dog got into real heat trouble.
One reader called asking me to write an article to help people understand why walking dogs on hot pavement and sidewalks is so hazardous. I appreciate this caring lady bringing this topic to my attention. This dangerous activity was not on my personal radar because my own dog and I enjoy our walks on shaded trails at the Stewiacke River Park.
Living and learning is part of our human condition. Researching and writing is part of mine. Here is some of what I learned about dog paws:
-Physical burns can occur on our dogs’ paw pads when surfaces like pavement, concrete, and even sand, are too hot.
-Paw pads are specialized skin on the bottom of dogs’ paws. They are designed for walking, jumping, running, distribution of weight-bearing pressure on the ground and are susceptible to wear and tear.
-We humans have our sandals and sneakers to protect our feet, but dogs are walking bare-pawed. If those pads get burned or even scorched a little bit, dogs are in for a world of pain and a visit to the vet.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure here, so when you step out for that walk, do this simple heat test. Place your hand on the paved surface for five to 10 seconds. If it’s uncomfortable for you in that short time, it could be excruciatingly painful for your pooch on a walk. Some dogs are so happy to go out that they won’t let you know what’s happening.
Preventing paw pad burns is simple. Check surface temperatures and always avoid walking dogs on all hot surfaces. More information can be found at
How dogs cool off
We humans have millions of sweat glands and pores all over our bodies. Dogs do not.
Other than some sweat glands in their paw-pads, dogs have very few and inefficient sweat glands. Their primary form of thermoregulation, or cooling ability, is by panting. Panting causes heat to come up from inside the chest, and then escapes through the moisture of the tongue, mouth and throat. The moist air evaporates and helps the cooling of dogs’ bodies.
Another way dogs’ bodies work to cool them is the expanding of the blood vessels; this is called vasodilation. The heated blood moves closer to the surface of the skin. The closer to the surface, especially the face and ears, the better the dogs can cool down.
More information can be found online at https://www.petmd.com/news/view/how-do-dogs-sweat-37585
Dogs depend on us to do what is best and right for them. To them, we are gods. We need to be humble and vigilant with that power.
Never leave a dog, or any other animal, in a car on a warm day. It can end in a horrible death within minutes.
It’s been said that when we know better, we can do better. Let’s learn to do better with our dogs and all other animals in our care.
Diana O’Connell writes for pleasure and volunteers with ElderDog Canada. Contact her at: [email protected] or visit her website: www.nana.land