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How to protect your dog’s paws for the summer

How to protect your dog’s paws for the summer
  • 12 June 2017
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  • ecanfield

Have you ever noticed how your dog will be a bit sluggish on those hot summer days? Ever see them wanting to go back inside, or even laying down and refusing to move? It turns out that your dog is not the problem, the asphalt is.

The temperature of the air and temperature of the ground are two entirely separate things. On a beautiful 77 degree day, the asphalt in the sunlight can reach up to 125 degrees! Just for comparison, you can fry an egg at 131 degrees! Its not hard to imagine why fiddo is hesitant to go for walks on hot days. The pads on a dog’s foot are nearly the same thickness as a humans foot, making it easy to burn and blister in extreme heat.

An easy way to avoid blistering is to check the temperature of the ground using the back of your hand. Hold your hand to the ground for 7 seconds, if it is uncomfortable for you, then it will be uncomfortable for your dog. You can even try walking barefoot to get an idea of the temperature. Products like paw wax can help prevent blistering on hot days, but should not be used as the only method of protection. Allowing your dog to rest in shaded areas and to have access to water is also very important. We encourage all owners to plan their routes ahead of time and to apply protective products before going on long walks.

Here are some good practices from Dr. Pia Salk regarding pet paw safety:

  1. As a basic ‘rule of paw’-If the pavement feels too hot for your barefoot, it is too hot for Fido’s.
  2. Pressing your own bare hands and feet on the pavement for at least 7-8 seconds is a recommended strategy to assess heat level . 
  3. If the 7-8 second test yields a comfortable temperature, it is still critical to consider other factors to assess safety accurately.
  4. The air temperature is NOT an accurate reflection of ground temperature at all! 
  5. Asphalt and other ground surfaces retain heat and this temperature rises exponentially as heat and sun exposure continues. (See chart above).
  6. Furthermore, the time of day is very relevant!
  7. Asphalt soaks up the heat all day and can only cool down at a certain rate and only when the sun retreats- so pavement that was deemed safe for a walk at 9 am may differ greatly at high noon and into the early evening.

Now that we are entering into the summer months, it is important to check off the essentials before leaving the house with your pooch. Do you have enough water? Will there be shade along the way? Did you apply any paw wax before leaving? We encourage everyone to take preventative steps when traveling with your pets during the summer months. The chart below is to reference the different between ambient air temperatures and ground temperatures. Please feel free to reach out to us with any questions, we are always delighted to help!