Summer temperatures in Boise, Idaho lead to hot pavement which is something that’s just as troublesome to your dog’s paws as it is to your own bare feet. A sunny 85-degree day (air temperature) can cause asphalt temperatures to reach as high as 140 degrees. To put that into perspective, an egg can fry in 5 minutes at 131 degrees. At 125 degrees F, skin destruction can occur in as little as 60 seconds, resulting in pain, redness, swelling, and bleeding. As a rule of thumb, press the back of your hand firmly against the asphalt for 7 seconds. If it is uncomfortable for you, it will also be uncomfortable for your dog.
Below are some tips to safely walk your dog to avoid overheating and injuring the pads of his or her paws:
- Avoid hot pavement or asphalt
- Try to take walks on the grass or shaded portions of the streets and sidewalks. If it is too hot for you to stand barefoot then it is too hot for your dog to stand. If you cannot avoid the hot pavement then try to keep the time spent on it short.
- Take “paw checks” Before you go out for the walk check how your dog’s paw pads feel. While you are walking stop in shaded areas or on grass check each of your dog’s paws. It the pads of the paws are really warm or hot stay off the hot pavement and let the dogs paws cool down. Once the pads are cool go home.
- Walk slowly and avoid going long distances. It is best to stay close to your home. This may mean walking up and down the street in front of your house. Even though this may get boring if your dog’s paw pads are getting hot or your dog needs to cool down it is easier to be near your house were you can help your dog if needed. If you need to cool the paws you are closer to water and air conditioning.
- Keep the walk short. If you and your dog normally walk for 30-40 minutes in mild weather/ temperatures of 70-89 degrees Fahrenheit then in heat of 90 degrees Fahrenheit or hotter a 10 minute walk would be similar to the longer walk in the mild weather.
If you are concerned your dog’s paws may have gotten burned, signs to look for are pads that look darker than usual, redness, limping, unwillingness to continue walking, blisters, missing sections or loose flaps on the paw pad, ulcerated patches, and excessive licking or chewing of the foot.
If your dog experiences any of those symptoms, the first step should be cooling his/her paws down. Get your pet away from hot surfaces (grass is usually much cooler than pavement) and, if possible, rinse his/her paws with cool water. Burns are very painful, so the best course of action if you think your dog may have burned their paws is a trip to the veterinarian. Depending on how severe the burns are, your vet may prescribe antibiotics and/or pain medication.