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All of the affected dogs had second or third degree burns along their backs after being exposed to hot water from a garden hose that was laying out in the sun. “Third degree” describes a severe burn that damages both the skin and its underlying tissues. Second degree burns involve the superficial and deep layers of the skin.
Cases occurred from May through August in Texas, Arizona, California, Utah, Nevada, Indiana, Michigan and North Carolina. The burns were not always apparent until several days after the incident and some resulted in significant scar formation. I’m not sure we need a specific name for this condition, but the authors propose that we use the phrase “garden hose scalding syndrome (GHS).”
According to the July 2012 issue of Veterinary Medicine, the pathologists conducted their own experiment to test whether or not hose water could actually get hot enough to cause second or third degree burns. They filled black and green rubber garden hoses with water and set them out on the grass for two hours in temperatures between 89 and 94° F. The water collected from the hoses reached 120°F. Imagine how much hotter the water might get on a truly scorching day. The Burn Foundation reports that in people, hot water causes third degree burns:
…in 1 second at 156°
…in 2 seconds at 149°
…in 5 seconds at 140°
…in 15 seconds at 133°
I’ve been keeping a hose out on our back patio to water plants this summer and have been surprised a few times at how quickly the water inside heats up. I always let it run for a bit before watering the plants, figuring that they’re not built for those temperatures. The same can obviously be said for canine and human skin.
So even though it may seem like an obvious recommendation, make sure to flush the scalding water out of the hose before you turn it on any living creature.
Dr. Jennifer Coates
ED: By the way, as the featured picture shows, some dogs, especially puppies, can get hopelessly hung up in hoses, so make sure to take the proper precautions.