This study evaluated dermal biopsy submissions from 10 canine cases (22 samples) in which thermal burns from garden hose water were suspected based on patient history, lesion distribution (linear burn along the dorsum), gross and histologic appearance (second- or third-degree thermal burn), time of the year (May–August), and location (western or southern states).

All cases had histologic features of second- or third-degree thermal burns characterized by full- or partial-thickness coagulative necrosis of the dermis and epidermis, including the adnexal epithelium. Scald burns such as these have a different pathophysiology from contact burns. Contact burns result in immediate coagulation and eschar formation, which can cause a clear line between viable and nonviable tissue. In scald burns, there is a delayed onset of vascular damage and often no necrotic layer to block heat conduction to the deep vascular plexus, making it vulnerable and prone to damage.

Signs of the burn may, therefore, not be apparent for several days and even the most superficial burns can lead to significant scarring. Owners and veterinarians should be cautioned about the risk for garden hose scalding syndrome, especially for pets that live in a hot climate or have an appropriate history and distribution of lesions.

Garden hose scalding syndrome is not a phrase that typically comes to mind when discussing with pet owners the risks associated with summer. Although the results of this study were mostly intuitive, it is surprising that water sitting in the sun can become hot enough to cause second- or third-degree burns. Client education during the hot months (especially in western or southern states) should be emphasized.—Heather Troyer, DVM, DABVP, CVA

A case series of thermal scald injuries in dogs exposed to hot water from garden hoses (garden hose scalding syndrome). Quist EM, Tanabe M, Mansell JEKL, Edwards JL. VET DERMATOL 23:162-e33, 2012.