Dog paws are tough. For generations, our canine friends have traveled over rocky terrain, snow and tall grass without the help of socks or hiking boots, but they’re not made to withstand extremely hot pavement, asphalt, concrete, or gravel. On hot days, paw pads can burn within 30 seconds of contact.
Before you walk your dog this summer, use these precautions to keep them safe and comfortable.
The Dangers of Hot Pavement on Dog Feet
Pavement retains heat, even more so if it’s dark in color, like asphalt. So, whenever it is hot outside, the ground is going to be even hotter, especially if it’s in direct sunlight.
Surfaces over 110 degrees will be painful for your dog to walk on. At 120 degrees, your dog could get second, even third degree paw burns. Asphalt can be 40-60 degrees hotter than the surrounding air temperature, meaning it can reach these dangerous temperatures even on days that only seem mildly hot. Lighter-colored surfaces, like concrete or brick, don’t heat up as much as black asphalt, but are still capable of reaching temperatures hot enough to burn your dog’s paws.
How to Protect Your Dog’s Paw Pads
Test Surfaces Before Walking Your Dog
You know how much it hurts to walk barefoot from your lounge chair to the pool on a hot day.
Dogs are no different. The best way to find out if the pavement is too hot for your dog to walk on? Test it yourself. Rest the back of your hand on the ground for at least 10 seconds – but don’t burn yourself! If it’s hot to you, it’s going to be hot to your dog.
Walk Early, Stroll Late
Sidewalks, streets, and driveways are the hottest in the middle of the day. The risk for burns begins as the sun really starts to beat down, around 10:30 am. The pavement may not cool off until at 8 pm. If it fits your schedule, take your dog for their longer exercise walks early in the morning, then again after the sun sets. In the middle of the day, just take your dog out for short potty breaks or playtime on the grass. By exercising your dog when it’s cooler, you also reduce their risk of heat stroke.
Walk on Cooler Surfaces
If you must take your dog for a walk when the pavement is hot, you can still keep their paws safe. Only walk your dog in shaded, grassy areas. In some cases, dog paws can get burned on very hot soil, so it’s best to check all surfaces before you let your dog out to play. A small dog can be carried over hot pavement until you find some cool grass. Larger dogs need paw protection to keep them safe, even if they don’t have to walk a long distance before they reach grass.
You can cool off the concrete in your backyard by running water over it from your garden hose. Just be sure to re-check the temperature before letting your dog out, and re-wet as necessary. Outdoor mats can be used to create a safe pathway to the grass.
Dog Boots, Shoes, and Socks
There’s a wide variety of shoes and socks that you could buy to protect your dog’s paws. However, you may have to experiment to see which your dog likes best.
Decent dog booties tend to be expensive, but they’ll also protect those paws from ice and road salt in the winter. Dog socks don’t provide as much protection, but they’re cheaper and more lightweight.
Some swear by Pawz from Top Paw, disposable rubber socks that look like balloons. You could also try Paw Savers disposable, stick-on paw pad protectors.
Most boots, shoes and socks are difficult for your dog to adjust to, at first. Be prepared to go slow and use lots of treats to help your dog acclimate to booties.
Paw Wax – Invisible Doggy Boots
Many dog owners use a paw wax product like Musher’s Secret or Espree Paw Balm to work as a protective layer between the dog’s paws and the hot pavement. You’ll need to take your time to absorb the wax into the paw, then make sure a thick, protective layer covers each toe.
Toughen Up Those Paw Pads
As an added layer of protection, you can help your dog’s paw pads become tougher and thicker. Walk your dog on pavement or concrete when it’s cool – NOT when the surfaces are hot. This is an easy way to help form calluses on your dog’s paw pads without causing burns.
Safe Summer Walks Are a Priority at Ready Pet Go!
Need help making sure your dog gets plenty of walkies this summer? The professional dog walkers at Ready Pet Go are happy to lend a hand. Get in touch with us to learn more about our services for pet parents in Silver Spring and Takoma Park, MD and Washington, DC.