I was standing just outside the shade zone; waiting for my husband to finish his olive oil tasting. We were at a farmers market yesterday afternoon without the dogs as it was in the high 80s. I glanced over and saw a small Dachshund panting heavily; he too was standing just outside the shade zone. Instinctively I took off my shoe and stood on the pavement with my barefoot. "Mom," I heard my son say as I looked to see him standing with one barefoot on the pavement as well. We had simultaneously seen the little dog panting and taken our shoe off to test the heat radiating from the ground. We laughed at the fact that we had both done the identical action but then talked about the heat and the lack of thinking that people do before heading out with their dogs.
Not long after seeing the little black dog I saw several more. One old pit bull was doing his best to get to the shade with an oblivious owner on the other end of his leash. They were just standing at the booth talking while the dog lifted each foot individually and tried to make it to the shade. The owner just kept yanking on the dog to come back without a thought about why he might be straining on his leash. Mid 80s is great weather but that mid 80s pavement gets very hot. The darker it is the hotter it gets. Even light colored surfaces can get hot in the direct sun. Our own patio in the backyard is very light colored but there are times when I cannot stand on it.
Standing idle on a hot surface is much different than walking. Even though walking on a hot surface is not great, standing can be unbearable. But it is not only the a dogs feet that suffer from the heat radiating off of the ground. Their entire body heats up and the closer they are to the ground the more they heat up. That poor little Dachshund was only inches from the hot ground; he was also black in color which made him hotter as well. Think people, think. The link below are a few facts about heat radiation.
Heat radiation facts
When we were looking into adding another puppy to our family; color played a big part in it. We are an outdoor family; I like to be out with the dogs a great deal. Being that we live in Southern California I didn't want a black dog. Black dogs feel the heat more than light colored dogs. I remember having the conversation with someone and they didn't see the difference. Even our Tilley who is now gone felt the heat as a dark gray dog much more than Luke did. If the weather is hot I we are heading out to the park; I will never grab a black t-shirt, I opt for the lighter colored version.
But most of you who are reading this know about the hot surface of pavement and the effects of heat and color of a dog. It is the ones who aren't reading this that I need to read it; how do we get the message across? A billboard might be good but there would still be people who never see it, ignore it or don't care. Approaching people can achieve negative results; a natural defense mechanism can kick in when someone tells you that you aren't being a good dog owner. Hopefully with enough messages, articles, posts etc. some dogs will be saved from suffering in the heat.
Visiting the Farmers Market with your dog is great if it is early; before the ground has time to heat up. But 2:00 in the afternoon on a hot day is not the time. Leave your dog at home in the cool of your home, please! If for some reason you decide to head out in the heat with your dog, be aware. Be aware of the ground temperature and your dog's proximity to it. A black dog will feel the intense heat radiating from the sun more than a light one will. Bring water with you so that your dog can drink. Do not run your dog in the heat, please! I just do not understand people running down the street in the middle of a hot day with their dog. If you want to run in the heat of day, fine; don't make your dog join you. Take your dog out in the morning or evening when it has cooled. But test the ground; even after the sun sets the ground can stay hot for sometime. It is always best to get out early in the day before the ground does heat up.
I left the market shaking my head in frustration. The people were all enjoying themselves; their dogs were all panting profusely, raising their feet in attempts to escape the heat and seeking shade. Sad, and simply the result of thoughtlessness.
We ended up heading out to a restaurant for dinner late afternoon. It was around 6:00 when we finished up our dinner and as I glanced out the window of the restaurant I noticed a dog barking in the back of a car, really? It was over 80 when we arrived and probably still the exact temperature at 6:00 pm. Someone left a dog in their car? The plan to break the window started in my head as I watched the tiny dog barking at passersby. From the time I spotted the dog to when we left was about 5 minutes. We talked about breaking car windows and how one goes about doing it. A rock would be good but I hoped that I wouldn't have to. Even a few moments in a hot car can do severe damage to a dog.
Veterinarian tests the "hot car" theory. (Video) Watch it.
I don't know how many times I have discussed leaving dogs in cars with people who have done just that. DON'T, JUST DON'T leave your dog in the car. Even if you crack the window, it gets way too hot inside of the car and can injure or kill your dog. It is not just in the high 80s or 90s when a dog should not be left in a car. Even the low 70s can heat up to unbearable and life threatening temperatures. DON'T, JUST DON'T.
Please, as the temperatures heat up, think before heading out with your dog.