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Veterinarians warn to use caution when walking pets on hot pavement

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Missoula Animal Control Officer Cindy Syrjala (MTN News photo) Missoula Animal Control Officer Cindy Syrjala (MTN News photo)

Rising temperatures have many Montanans heading outdoors, but be mindful of where you walk if you've got a furry friend in tow.

Caught in the grips of a heatwave, temperatures are hitting the triple digits and sidewalks and roads are hot enough to cause second-degree burns to animal paws.

Veterinarians say if it's too hot for you, it's too hot for your pets.

One way to test the pavement is by taking the back of your hand and placing it on the asphalt.

If you can't keep it there for more than five seconds, it's too hot for your pets.

"People don't think about it, because you have shoes on your feet, and so you don't think, you think the pads of the feet, that they're protected,” said Missoula Animal Control Officer Cindy Syrjala. 

“But their pads really aren't any different than our feet. They have a little bit of a cushion there, but that could be damaged just as easily as it can if you're walking barefoot on the pavement," said Syrjala.

Syrjala said the people at Missoula County Animal Control are all too familiar with the effects hot pavement has on an animal. 

She explained that once the pavement gets hotter than 125 degrees, burns are likely.

"It does happen. We saw two animals last week, one dog and one cat that both had severe burns to the bottom of their feet that came in as stray animals,” said Syrjala.  “And they were severe. The one little dog, her pads actually were peeling off."

Syrjala added that you should be on the lookout for signs that your pet may be uncomfortable or in pain.

"If you see your dog start to hop around or if he's holding his feet up or limping, that's a sure sign that there might be something wrong and you need to pay attention to the surface that you have him on," she said.

Animal Control officers said that even the sidewalks are reaching surface temperatures in excess of 100 degrees, so caution is advised when walking your pets.

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