Paws Off! Protecting Paws From Hot Pavement

Super Smiley, blog dog, here with the scoop on our paws, pads and hot pavement! In working on film sets with science-based animal advocates around, I learned some pretty amazing things!

  • Like even when the sun goes down at night and the air is cooler, hot pavement can remain over 100 degrees for hours!
  • Even in the shade, hot pavement can still be 20 degrees hotter than a grassy patch right next to it!

The bottom line is: Pavement gets hot and stays hot a long time!

This is the scientific truth, but we dogs don’t need science to tell us this one!

  • Another problem: We dogs love to go with our people, so we will go and go and stand with you, and may be scorching our pads while our people may not even realize it!
  • And one more thing: Like when people get sunburned, our pads may get burned and may continue to get worse as the day and night goes on!
  • OK, two more things: Pad injuries are really serious! Have you ever had a dog with a pad injury? We dogs like to get up and walk around as soon as we think we’re better, but we’re really not 100 percent, so our injured pad can easily split or break open again. It is a really hard thing to heal!

So for a dog, I think I set up the problem pretty well, so I’ll let my person, The Pet Lifestyle Coach®, come up with some solutions. Because with summer here, we need some help!

Wow Super Smiley! Great job showing that this is serious! Megan, Super Smiley’s person, here now with some ideas and tips to keep our dog’s paws safe in the summer!

  • First, check out the ground surface heat by standing on it barefoot! If it’s too hot for you, it’s too hot for your dog. If you are going in and out of different areas and can’t realistically take off your shoes and stand for a minute, then place the entire palm of your hand on the ground. If you feel any heat coming up, it’s too hot.
  • Stick to the grass! Avoid asphalt, concrete and dry hot sand like on the beach. And although piers, boats, boat docks and truck beds in moving trucks may be brushed with cool breezes, the standing surface may be scorching.
  • Dark surfaces heat up more and faster than do light surfaces, so be aware of all your walking choices. If your dog has to cross a street, do it quickly! Then immediately get to a cool area.
  • If you have a small dog, carry her.
  • For a small to medium dog, consider using a stroller, and for a larger dog, see if he will fit into a larger stroller. Or you can be creative and fashion a wagon for him. If you try this, be sure to pad the bed of the wagon with light colored thick fabric so you don’t just pop your dog “from the frying pan into the fire!”
  • Dog Booties. These are good for crossing streets or for quickly going to and from parking lots, but they are not a 100 percent solution in that they will transmit heat as well. If your dog is standing on hot pavement in booties, soon the booties will heat up, too, and become like little ovens. Also, dogs do perspire a little from their pads to help them stay cool. So if their paws are encased in hot booties for an extended time, this can actually begin to systemically overheat your dog, possibly resulting in heat stroke. Super Smiley and the HOPE Animal Assistance Crisis Response Teams use and recommend booties, so they are wonderful tools, but must be used properly.
  • Take a towel with you that you can wet for your dog to stand on if he will be standing on a hot surface for any amount of time. This is a great idea, but also comes with a “but.” Super Smiley and I have found that when a hard surface like a sidewalk or cement sitting area in a park is heated in the hot summer sun, even the wet towel’s effectiveness is short-lived. The surface heat will bleed through quickly and will heat up the wet towel, again creating the risk of systemic heat stroke.
  • If your dog has to cross a hot street or wear booties for a little while in the heat, then as soon as you can, remove the booties, go to a cool area like a shaded grassy spot or in air conditioning, and dip his paws in water just long enough to get them wet. This will cool them down and will serve to begin cooling his entire body as well.

Even after taking precautions, it’s good to know some signs of pad distress.

  • limping, lying down, refusing to walk
  • licking or chewing his feet
  • trying to “show you” his paw
  • darkened pads
  • blisters or redness
  • part of the pad is missing or bleeding

If you see any of these signs, cool the pads with cool, clean water, carry or “stroller” him to a vehicle, and take him to a veterinarian right away who will assess the severity of his case.

Super Smiley and I hope you have a wonderful summer… with cool paws!

Until Next Time,
Woof and Super Smiles from
Super Smiley and Megan Blake, The Pet Lifestyle Coach®

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