One of the things humans enjoy most when it's warm out is walking bare foot. I mean, at least I do. But what happens when you think you don't need your flip flops and you step on a hot surface? OW, OW, OW, right? Just like humans, dog paws can also be hurt by hot pavement.
What Are The Hottest Surfaces?
Obviously, some surfaces hold heat better than others, but almost all of them can hurt your dog's paws. In an experiment at Frostburg State University, six surfaces, not including sand, were tested at 10 AM and 2 PM on two consecutive days. Not surprisingly, grass is the coolest surface. What is surprising is that Astroturf (artificial grass), which is replacing natural grass in many parks and yards, is hotter than asphalt and concrete, which are the most common places dogs are walked.
My in-laws replaced the grass in their backyard with Astroturf about five years ago. Here in Colorado, it's hard to grow anything. Seriously. It's rough. Additionally, the cost for water usage is on a sliding scale, i.e., the more water you use, the more you pay. It seemed perfectly reasonable to swap out natural grass for artificial until summer came. The Astroturf was so hot their dogs refused to go on it. The workaround was they had to turn on the irrigation system for five minutes to cool down the grass before the girls went outside.
Not only is that inconvenient, but they used more water than if they were just watering the lawn to keep it alive. Guess who pulled out half of the Astroturf and put in sod last summer? My in-laws treat their dogs like royalty and didn't want the hot surface to hurt their dogs' paws.
Another potentially treacherous surface for your dog's paws is the bed of a pickup truck. Whether it's bare metal or a spray-in liner, it's generally not protected from the sun. If you and your dog hop up there to sit on the tailgate—OUCH! The list of hot surfaces that can injure your dog's paws are endless because they retain a lot of heat, but here are a few more: decks, docks, rocks, outside stairs. Basically, name it.
Another potentially treacherous surface for your dog's paws is the bed of a pickup truck. Whether it's bare metal or a spray-in liner, it's generally not protected from the sun.
If you and your dog hop up there to sit on the tailgate—OUCH! The list of hot surfaces that can injure your dog's paws are endless because they retain a lot of heat, but here are a few more: decks, docks, rocks, outside stairs. Basically, name it.
How To Protect Paws On Hot Pavement
Follow the seven-second rule and check the surface for heat before you leave the house. For those of you who have cared for two-legged children, you know when you warm up formula or breast milk, you shake a few drops on the inside of your wrist to test the temperature. Testing the walking surfaces is the same thought process. Use your bare foot or hand to feel the surface you plan to walk your pup on. If you can’t leave your foot or hand on it for seven seconds, then it’s too hot for Fido.
Keep to natural grass or dirt surfaces. If you have a park or hiking trails available, those are the safest walking surfaces during hot weather.
Walk early in the morning or late in the evening when surfaces are cooler. If that’s not possible, try a treadmill.
Invest in a pair of booties to help avoid burning paws. Just like winter booties keep a dog’s feet warm, there are booties or dog paw wax to protect them from the heat as well... if you can get your buddy to let you put them on. Not all dogs like those items on their feet, and it’s good to start that habit when they are young to get them used to it.
First Aid for Heat Injuries and Injured Paws
Unfortunately, with all the precautions you take in warm weather, accidents happen. Your dog can get overheated or injure their paws on hot surfaces. Even if you’ve tested the surface and it seems fine, if your dog starts limping, avoids walking, or starts licking or chewing their feet, get them to a cooler surface quickly.
Other signs of burned paws are paw pads that are darker than usual, blisters, and redness. If this happens, we recommend you take your BFF to the vet for treatment IMMEDIATELY. The vet may prescribe antibiotics, pain medications, and bandage their feet to let the pads heal.
A secondary effect of hot pavement and dog paws is your dog can
overheat quickly. If you see your dog exhibiting the following
behaviors during outside activity or after you get home, it’s a health
emergency: panting heavily, drinking water excessively, vomiting, loss of
consciousness, or a seizure.
We hope you and your dog have a safe and enjoyable summer! If you have any other solutions or experiences with hot pavements and your dog's paws, please post them on one of our social media pages or email them to firstname.lastname@example.org… we’d love to hear from you.