We don’t usually consider walking our dogs to be a bad thing, but during hot weather it can actually be harmful and result in painful burns.
The temperature outside is not an indication of the temperature of the pavement by any means. Would you believe that when it’s a mild and sunny 77 degrees outside, the asphalt on the street can be about 125 degrees? To give you an idea of just how hot that is, consider the fact that an egg will fry on a 131-degree sidewalk in a mere five minutes!
Take off your shoes and see for yourself what the pavement feels like. Another way to test the heat is with the back of your hand. If you can’t hold it on the street, sidewalk or driveway for 11 seconds, it’s too hot for your dog’s paw pads and they could easily burn without some protection.
The following are some precautions you can take to prevent injuring your pet’s feet:
Consider the time of day. Asphalt and concrete hold the heat well into the evening, even in shady spots, so a morning walk is typically a safer choice during hot weather.
Try some doggie footwear. It may take a little while for your dog to get used to wearing them, but booties offer great protection from hot pavement, and from snow and ice as well. Be sure to secure the Velcro straps well around your dog’s ankles so they don’t slip off. We have had success with Pawsh Pads and now carry them in a variety of sizes at all of our locations.
Your terrain makes a difference. A grass or dirt route will be easier on your pup’s feet temperature-wise, but rock, gravel and sand may also cause burns and other injuries.
Take a stroll. It may sound silly, but if your dog is small enough, a stroller may be a good option, although it obviously won’t provide the health benefits of walking.
Know the symptoms. If your dog is licking or chewing his feet, limping, refusing to walk or whining, he could be in pain from burned paw pads.
Examine your dog’s feet well. If your pet seems uncomfortable during a walk, move to a shady area and take a close look at his or her feet. If the paws are hot, blistered, torn or bleeding, pick your pet up if possible and carry it, or call someone for a ride and seek veterinary attention if needed. Also, symptoms may not show until after your walk. A cool compress may temporarily ease your dog’s pain, but only your vet can decide whether pain medication or antibiotics to prevent infection are necessary. Foot pads heal differently than your dog’s skin because there is constant pressure on them when standing and sitting, so medical treatment can be important.