Meg Almazan and her border collie lab mix, Alaska, had been waiting for the cloud cover Tuesday afternoon at the Railyard Dog Park in Denver.
“We kind of just came over to let her run around because it’s been a little hot, so she hasn’t been outside a lot,” Almazan said.
It’s fitting that a dog named Alaska would prefer the cooler weather.
“I try to hose her down before I take her on walks and stuff,” Almazan said. “But in Colorado, it’s so dry that it dries up right away.”
When temperatures top 90 degrees, Almazan starts worrying about her pup’s paw pads, too.
“It makes it all raw and they just stop walking after a while, so I get really concerned about it,” Almazan said.
Thankfully, Almazan’s concern saves Alaska a trip to the vet.
“I think people don’t pay attention to the surfaces that they’re exercising their animals on,” said veterinarian Dr. Kevin Fitzgerald.
Fitzgerald said summer is the time he sees the most paw pad injuries at VCA East Alameda Veterinary Hospital.
“We probably see them, certainly every weekend, but probably every other day,” Fitzgerald said.
Dogs are often injured hiking or even just walking on pavement or concrete that can reach temperatures that soar above 120 degrees.
“We can get superheated particles in that concrete or gravel that can burn these feet in a horrible way,” Fitzgerald said.
Paw pads exposed to a superheated surface for a few minutes can be badly burned and torn apart. Fitzgerald said it can take two to three weeks for the pads to fully heal.
“The problem with healing on pads of the feet is [a dog is} walking on it all the time,” Fitzgerald explained. “The enemy of healing is motion.”
Fitzgerald said pet owners should inspect their pets’ paws after exercise. He also recommended carrying a pet first aid kit while hiking.
“This is the time of year to get out there,” Fitzgerald said. “So, let’s get out there and have fun, but be safe.”
Fortunately for Alaska over at the Railyard Dog Park, she’s got a pal looking out for her paws.
“I’m just a concerned mother I guess!” Meg Almazan said.