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Protecting Your Pup’s Paws From Hot Pavement

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The weather is getting warmer, and many of us are looking forward to enjoying more of those summer strolls with our dogs. Because we wear shoes, though, it can be easy to forget how hot that sun-soaked pavement can actually be.  

Keep your pup’s paws from getting burned by the hot asphalt and cement by following some of our expert tips. Keep reading to learn more!

How Hot is Too Hot?

There’s no hard-and-fast rule about when your dog’s paws should stay off the pavement; some dogs have more sensitive paw pads, while those with tougher paw pads can tolerate higher temperatures for longer. 

That said, it’s a good idea to take some extra precautions when it reaches around 85 degrees Fahrenheit. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, when the air temperature is 86 degrees, asphalt temperatures can reach 135 degrees. 

A general rule of thumb (or paw): if it’s too hot for you to stand or walk barefoot, or to comfortably place your hand on the ground for more than 10 seconds, it’s too hot for your dog. 

Paw Protection Tips

Your dog needs his exercise, so you can’t exactly skip his daily walks when the weather is too warm. 

Instead, go for your walks when the weather is cool—mornings and late evenings are typically a good option. It also helps to stay in the shade and let your dog walk on grass whenever possible.

You don’t necessarily need to avoid walking on pavement altogether. In fact, walking while it’s cool can actually help to toughen up your pup’s paw pads, making them less susceptible to damage down the road (literally). 

Moisturizing your dog’s paws is also a good way to keep them from cracking and peeling and reduce the risk of pavement burns. There’s a good chance your dog will lick his paws afterward, so be sure to use a moisturizer specifically formulated for dogs or an edible, dog-friendly alternative such as coconut oil

You can also apply paw wax or vaseline to your dog's paws as a protective layer, but keep in mind that not all dogs will like this option. 

Similarly, you could purchase some dog shoes or booties to protect your dog’s paws, but be prepared for the possibility that your dog may not be a fan of his new kicks! 

Common Signs of Paw Trouble

As much as we wish we could talk to our dogs, you’ll have to rely on body language and visual cues to indicate that something might be wrong. 

Common signs of paw trouble include: 

  • Limping or reluctance to walk
  • Licking or chewing at the feet
  • Darker paw pads than usual
  • Blisters or redness
  • Visible damage

While you’re at it, keep an eye out for these signs of overheating and/or dehydration in dogs: 

  • Seeking out shade, or even digging as an attempt to find a cool spot to lie down. 
  • Lethargy
  • Excessive panting and/or drooling
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Skin reddening
  • Dizziness
  • Blue or purple gums

It’s always better to be safe than sorry, so on particularly hot days make sure to keep your walks short and sweet—you may even want to consider some indoor activities instead. 

Paw Burn First Aid

If you suspect your dog has burned his paws, you’ll need to take immediate action with these four steps: 

  1. Bring your dog inside right away. Depending on the temperature of the pavement or the severity of the injury, you may need to carry him to avoid further issues.

  2. Run cold water over the paws, or use a cold compress.

  3. Try to keep his mouth away from the injured area.

  4. Call your vet. This is especially important because paw burns could result in infection, so you’ll want to make sure you’re taking the appropriate next steps to protect your pup.

Additional Considerations

It’s good practice to inspect your dog’s paws after every outdoor venture. Check for any signs of damage, in addition to pests, allergens, and other debris. 

Keep your dog safe and cool all summer long: offer plenty of rest breaks and find sufficiently shady spots when you’re outside for your walks or outdoor adventures. Bring collapsible water bowls to keep your pup hydrated. You may even want to hose him off with cool water, find a spot to swim, or place some ice packs underneath his front legs to cool off. 

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