CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Wednesday was the hottest day of the year and the oppressive heat has already been deadly in the Charlotte area.

Now, vets have a warning to help keep your pets safe.

Coy is a funny mix: boxer and Chihuahua, with tons of energy, but right now his owner is careful not to let him outside too long in the heat of the day.

“The biggest problem we see is heatstroke,” says Veronica Woodall, a south Charlotte veterinarian at St. Francis Hospital. “They are just out of it and taking gasping, gulping breaths, and their whole focus is on breathing. All they can do is try to keep their breath.”

That’s when a dog is obviously in distress, but you might not think about how a simple walk can hurt them. Some vets in the area say they’re getting calls about burned paws.

Woodall has a suggestion.

“Put the back of your hand on the ground for 11 seconds and if you’re comfortable with that, it’s okay to walk your pet on the surface,” she says.

To put that theory to the test, NBC Charlotte checked the temperature outside. The grass was 93 degrees, but the pavement was 123 degrees. It even reached 129 in some places.

“The paws aren’t any thicker than the thickness of our feet so whatever is comfortable for us is more comfortable for them,” Woodall said.

Worse yet, leaving a dog in a car. A Virginia woman is facing felony animal cruelty charges after her dog died. She’d left the dog in her car in of all places, the PetSmart parking lot.

People don’t realize how quickly a closed car can turn into an oven. One study showed that on a 95-degree day the temperature inside can hit 124 degrees within 20 minutes. After one hour, the temperature hit a whopping 140 degrees.