What to check before walking dog in Texas heat

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to reflect the type and number of heat-related injuries APA! has treated this summer.

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin’s relentless temperatures have been hard on several pets, with Central Texas advocates seeing animals with heat-related injuries.

An Austin Pets Alive! spokeswoman said it’s treated three or four animals this summer with clinical symptoms due to the increased heat — which have mostly been barn cats panting or needing to be brought inside.

Just a few miles away, Bluebonnet Animal Hospital is seeing more heat-related injuries. Winston Smith, a veterinarian technician, said the hot concrete is like a stovetop.

“Just think about a dog walking on that. They also are just happy to be on the walk, so they don’t really notice it as much. But it’s definitely heating up that paw pad,” Smith said.

Smith recommended always checking your pets’ paws after going on a walk, and even shortening those walks outside.

When cooling down a pet, Smith advised placing a damp towel over them. An APA! spokesperson said if a dog gets too hot, owners should give them water and put them in front of a fan to help cool them down, since dogs don’t sweat to cool down the way humans do. Owners can also wet their paws and bellies.

What to check before walking a dog in the heat

APA! said owners should check the pavement before starting out by holding their hands on it for 10 seconds.

“If it’s too hot for you, the pavement is too hot for them,” it said.

When the temperatures climb, it’s best to avoid walks from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Especially if the area is in an Excessive Heat Warning, pets and people should limit themselves to short walks in the shade or opt for going out in the evening, APA! said.

Be on the lookout for signs dogs may be overheating. “Lagging is the number one sign that your dog is too hot,” APA! said. Owners should also check for red eyes and pay attention if their dog’s tongue is hanging very far out of their mouth.

Of course, keep those dogs hydrated, too. Swimming in cool water is also a good idea, but pet owners should research whether there’s toxic blue-green algae in local waterways before taking a pet to one of Austin’s many lakes. The toxic algae can be deadly for pets and has been linked to several pet deaths over the past few years.

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