Humphrey, an 18-month-old groodle, had been playing around the edge of the pool at his Sunshine Coast home for about 40 minutes when he started limping.
- When exposed to hot surfaces, the pads of the paws burn exposing raw tissue
- Complications of burnt paws include infection, dehydration and heat stroke
- Dogs of any age can burn their paws on surfaces including bitumen, concrete and sand
“There was a little bit of blood and we thought ‘Oh no, he must have cut it as he’s running around’,” owner Clare Martin said.
Soon after, the family noticed what looked like a laceration on the golden retriever-poodle cross and Humphrey started shaking.
Ms Martin’s husband, Nev Patterson, and daughter Jessie rushed him to an emergency vet where they received the shocking diagnosis: Humphrey had suffered burns.
“She [the vet] said he had severely burnt two of his paws and [the wound] wasn’t a cut — the skin of his paw was actually hanging off,” Ms Martin said.
“We didn’t for one minute think that it was a burn. It wasn’t crazily hot.
“It’s like, hooley dooley, we didn’t expect it to happen in our garden on white tiles, not even black tiles or bitumen. And it’s November. It’s not even summer.”
Ms Martin said the family knew about the risks of walking dogs on hot bitumen or sand, but they had no idea their much-loved pet was in danger in the backyard in the late afternoon.
“He was in so much pain for the first three days, he was just staring at walls, wasn’t himself and was quite anxious, so it was quite traumatic for him,” Ms Martin said.
“I had no idea how quickly it could happen and how severe it can be on their little paws.”
Humphrey’s veterinarian treatment included sedation, removing the damaged skin from his paws and dressings reapplied to the wounds for four days.
‘Like third-degree sunburn’
Veterinarian Gabby Capell, from the Animal Emergency Service that treated Humphrey, said in such cases pets often deteriorated quickly and should be treated urgently.
“I would say it would kind of be like a third degree sunburn because the pads are very sensitive,” she said.
“You’ll see that the actual pad is peeling off and you’ll see the raw tissue underneath, which is very, very painful.
“Imagine your feet being burnt and having to bear weight.”
She said because raw skin was exposed there was a risk of infection and treatment should be sought urgently.
Aside from infection, there are other potential complications, including dehydration and heat stroke.
Dr Capell says pet owners need to be cautious with surfaces that conduct heat, including bitumen, concrete, pavers and sand.
Ms Martin said while she checked ground temperatures before taking Humphrey for walks, she would now be as vigilant in the backyard.
“We honestly didn’t think it could happen and happen so quickly, so hopefully other people can avoid having to go through the stress and trauma for their dogs,” she said.