Taking your dog for a walk on a nice sunny day in mid-summer can be a lot of fun and great exercise for your pet. But a nice walk or outdoor event can lead to injury and a possible trip to the emergency room if you are unaware of the dangers lying just under your pup’s paws. On a typical warm summer day asphalt temperatures can get hot enough to fry an egg and even hotter, reaching over 150 degrees Fahrenheit. This is more than hot enough to seriously injure a paw of one of our four legged friends.
To prevent a trip to the emergency room, here are some guidelines:
- Air temperature is not always predictive of asphalt temperature. Asphalt retains heat extremely well and can be far hotter than what you think it is.
- In general, if the asphalt is too hot to keep your hand or foot on it for more than 5 seconds, then it is too hot for your dog.
- Since it is the sunrays that cause the dramatic increase in temperature, avoiding the sun or pavement is recommended. Going on walks before 9am or after 7pm is going to dramatically reduce the risk of injuring your dog’s paws. Also, walking on grass, dirt or other cooler surface will prevent thermal contact burns.
- If walking on asphalt in the middle of the day is unavoidable, you can purchase booties to protect their paws.
These rules don’t just apply to walks outside, but also to outdoor events like parades and festivals. Many pet owners want their pets to join in on the fun, but it’s important to be aware of the weather and asphalt temperature. If it’s too hot and humid for a walk then events are also a no-go. This best prevention for overheating and burnt paws is to keep your pets inside as much as possible on uncomfortable, warm days.
Burns to the paw pads are not always obvious by looking at them. In fact, they can appear completely normal with all the damage occurring under their thick rough skin. This damage is not only very painful, but it can lead to serious infections and other complications. Signs of injury include but are not limited to: blisters, ulcers, difficulty walking, not wanting to jump/play, having a gait that mimics “walking on egg shells,” lethargy and decreased appetite. If your pet is showing any of these signs, please seek veterinary care as soon as possible.