Ever run barefoot across the hot midday sand? On warm days, it’s best to go to the beach during the morning or evening hours to prevent painful scorched paws. Paw burns can be serious; if Fido or Fifi do get burned, check in with the vet for proper treatment as infection risk is high.
Steer your dogs clear of cookouts and campfires. Not only can there be mishaps with the fire or food, but it takes longer for hot embers and coals to go out in the summer. And be careful your pup doesn’t tangle with a recently buried campfire!
Tall Grass is Dangerous. It’s called “saw grass” for a reason! Paws and legs are easily sliced, especially in the fall as blades dry out, but year-around. Tall grass is also notorious for hiding paw lacerating broken bottles, hooks and other trash washed up in storms or left by careless humans. Stay on the trails with a leashed pet or avoid the dune grass on your beach adventure.
Choose beach that is not just dogs-allowed, but dog-friendly! Most of our beach is sweet sand but there are areas with sharp rocks, such as Beard’s Hollow in Seaview and creek outlets, where rocks are covered and uncovered by shifting sands. Dogs aren’t as welcome on the northernmost parts of the Peninsula where bird populations are protected. However, between the Seaview and Long Beach approaches, there is no driving between Memorial Day and Labor Day, making more than a mile of sand safe for pedestrians and their canine friends.
Beware Overheating. Of course, you won’t leave Fido in the car when the weather is very warm at all. Cracking a window does almost nothing to let out the heat on the inside of your greenhouse on wheels. If you thought it would be okay, and come back to a lethargic pet, cool his body slowly with tepid, then cool, water while you take him to the vet immediately. A lot can go wrong quickly on the inside of your dog when overheated. Don’t risk it. Get treatment!
Schedule downtime. At the beach, Fido will be having SUCH a good time he probably won’t regulate his activity level as well as normal. Make sure to allow for downtime so he doesn’t get overheated. Dogs cool themselves mainly through panting, but also through the sweat glands in their footpads. Make sure they have a spot in the shade, where they can chill out, drink water and recoup their energy.
Stay hydrated. Make sure Fido has a supply of fresh, cool water available, and bring plenty for yourself, too!
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Signs of injured pads:
- limping or refusing to walk
- licking or chewing at the feet
- pads darker in color
- missing part of pad
- blisters or redness
- whining and or heavy panting may be a sign of pain
How to treat injured paws:
It is important to keep the foot area cool and clean. As soon as you notice the problem, flush the pads with cool water and carry him/her if possible to a grassy area (soft and cool).
It’s also important that you take measures to prevent infection. As soon as you can, wash the paw pad using antibacterial soap and rinse thoroughly.
Pat the injured foot with a clean towel to dry the area. Pour an antiseptic like betadine (preferred) or hydrogen peroxide over the burned, blistered or cut paw pad and allow the liquid to air dry. (Hydrogen peroxide can damage tissue and delay healing. After the initial cleaning, it must be used at half-strength, with 50% water added. This is why betadine is preferred.) Do not use alcohol, it burns!
Typically, bandaging is not recommended for dog injuries as the limited air flow can promote the growth of anaerobic bacteria. But paw pad injuries are an exception to this rule because, without a bandage, the injured paw pad will be contaminated with bacteria and irritated by debris.
Apply a generous amount of antibiotic ointment to the injury. Wrap the paw and ankle with rolled gauze, taking care not to reduce circulation by wrapping too tightly. Roll the gauze in a “figure 8” pattern, looping around the paw and ankle to prevent the bandage from slipping off. Cover the bandage with a sock, placing a bit of tape around the dog’s leg at the sock’s ankle to hold the sock in place. The sock will prevent soiling of the foot bandage.
Paw pad burns and cuts are very prone to infection, so visiting the veterinarian is important. Antibiotics are often prescribed for a paw pad cut, burn or sore due to the high risk of infection. Sometimes, a more thorough cleaning may need to be performed under anesthesia; removal of dead tissue may also be necessary to allow for healing to occur. A visit to the vet is even more vital when more than one paw is involved, which is often the case with foot pad burns.