Summer pet paws: The 10-Second Rule

The summer heat rages on. Some of us love it, while others can’t stand all the sunburns and sweating. Either way, our pets need extra protection during this warm-weather season. Particularly their paws!

Each summer, veterinarians treat countless cases of burned paws (particularly the paw pads) on dogs who have walked or run on hot surfaces. Blacktop and asphalt heat up especially fast. Tennis courts do too. Anything over 120 (F) degrees can be painful and do real damage to a pet’s feet. Even a few steps can hurt, especially if a dog has not developed callouses from repeated year-round running.

Here’s an easy tip for dog walkers, dog-joring fans, cani-cross runners, dog joggers, and others who step out daily with their canine companions. Why not follow the 10-Second Rule?

The 10-Second Rule is easy.

As you step out onto the pavement for a summer jaunt with your pet, simply stop and place your own palm flat on the asphalt, blacktop, brick walkway, cement, concrete, tar, sidewalk, tarmac, or whatever surface you are following. Count “One-thousand-one, one-thousand-two …” and so on – all the way to “one-thousand-ten.”

How hot is your hand?

If your hand is burning unpleasantly, then the pavement is probably too hot for your pet’s paws. It might be a good idea to change your route to a shady trail or run a few loops around a grassy park. Or you could plan your summer outing for early morning, when the ground is still cooler from overnight.

Plenty of sporty booties are available (in various sizes) to protect pets’ paws on hot summer surfaces. Here’s an example. These booties sport rugged soles and Velcro closures.

The 10-Second Rule is a no-frills, no-fuss way to gauge whether the ground is too hot for your pet’s feet.

Dog pawprints image adapted by this user from public domain photo
and product promo photo - fair use

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5 safety tips for summer road trips with dogs

Summer is prime time for traveling, especially for pet owners taking road trip vacations. Lots of dog lovers take their canine companions along for the ride. Professional pet sitters and boarding kennels can be costly, and many folks choose to include their dogs for family vacations, especially in the summer.

How can pet lovers travel safely on the road this summer with their canine companions?

Here are five tips for safer summer road trips with dogs.

NOTE: Written by this author, this copyrighted material originally appeared on another publisher’s site. That site no longer exists. This author holds all rights to this content. No republication is allowed without permission.

1. Choose and use secure seating for a traveling dog.

Each year, countless dogs are injured inside moving vehicles, particularly during sudden stops and vehicular accidents. An untethered animal may stumble, fall, or be catapulted through the interior of a car or truck, winding up with broken bones and other injuries. Others may be harmed by loose objects that fall upon them inside a vehicle.

Do dogs need seat belts inside vehicles for on-the-road safety? Vehicular safety belts and harnesses are available for pets. Some of these products attach to existing seat belts, while others may be factory installed. Although pet seat belts are not legal requirements, many dog owners do choose to use them to prevent injuries. Other pet owners put their smaller dogs in airy pet crates to keep them secure inside moving vehicles.

Dogs should not be held on drivers’ laps during on-road travel, as this can be both dangerous and distracting. In addition, a pet may be crushed by a sudden release of a vehicular airbag.

2. Don’t put dogs in pickup truck beds.

In many regions, humans may not legally ride in the back of a moving pickup truck. However, few areas have laws restricting this practice with pets. Animals (particularly dogs) are often seen traveling in the open beds of pickup trucks. This form of canine transport can be extremely hazardous, as dogs may fall or fly out of pickup truck beds on bumpy roads or with sudden stops.

Similar hazards may occur with sudden stops in vehicles with convertible tops or sunroofs.

3. Take lots of water breaks when traveling with a dog.

Long-distance road trips may take several hours, and dogs undoubtedly require water breaks. Compassionate and cautionary pet owners will offer dogs fresh, clean water (not roadside puddles, which may be contaminated with chemicals or other hazards) and an opportunity to potty outside their vehicles. (Of course, dog owners will want to pick up after their pets, if necessary.)

4. Use a collar and leash during road trips with a dog.

Far too many dogs may be endangered, injured, or killed in roadway accidents annually. Others may be bitten or maimed (or even bred) by unfamiliar dogs in rest areas, parks or other roadside stopping points.

Many of these tragedies could be avoided by the use of collars and leashes (or pet harnesses) during road trips. Even the most obedient dogs may become confused or overexcited in unfamiliar surroundings, so compassionate restraint is well advised.

5. Never leave a dog unattended in a vehicle.

Although most dogs seem to enjoy traveling in moving vehicles, a parked car presents a completely different scenario.

Within just a few minutes, the interior of a stationary vehicle on a hot day may reach dangerous levels. Even with the windows open, a car’s inside temperature may quickly exceed 120 (F) degrees – potentially causing heatstroke, brain damage, heart failure, or even death for pets trapped inside.

By taking a few precautions, pet lovers can enjoy summer road trips with their canine companions. Of course, it’s also a good idea to take along each dog’s health records (including verification of current immunizations) and to affix identification tags on each dog’s collar, whether or not the pet has been microchipped.

The dog days of summer can be an ideal occasion for traveling with treasured pets, especially when these basic on-road safety precautions are taken.

Graphic created by this user with public domain artwork

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