Summer’s here, and so is the heat. Long before we hit the “dog days” of the season, it will be plenty warm out there. No, it may not be hot enough to fry an egg on the sidewalk, but the asphalt can easily — and quickly — get hot enough to seriously hurt your dog’s paws.
“Asphalt gets so much hotter than the ambient temperature,” said Dr. Tom Watson from Carolinas Veterinary Medical Hospital. “Several times a year we will see dogs with third-degree burns or severe abrasions on their paw pads from running with their owner on hot asphalt.”
Yikes! So what’s a responsible dog owner to do, especially if their dog just “must” get some exercise time outside? Glad you asked. Here’s a short list of tips to make the summer safer for your best running (or walking) partner!
Get out there early.
Seems pretty simple, but go with this knowledge: the sidewalks and streets are still harboring some of yesterday’s warmth, so they’ll already be warm even early in the day. If you and your dog need to get that run or walk, the earlier the better. If early’s not your thing, wait until it’s good and dark.
Take to the trails.
Consider this one a double bonus. Not only will the trails take you off the much hotter asphalt, you’ll likely be able to find some with plenty of shade, too. Check your local park and recreation or state parks website for resources. Make sure to obey any leash laws, and respect other trail users, too.
Give dog shoes a try.
You’ve probably seen all sorts of YouTube videos of dogs slipping and sliding on kitchen floors wearing these things, but they’re a legitimate option for protecting your dog’s feet from heat and cold. Yes, they’ll probably require some break-in to see if your dog’s comfortable with the idea of wearing shoes.
Check your dog’s paws.
Make inspecting your dog’s paws part of your routine. Give them a quick once over before and after your walk or run. Even if you’re not spending tons of time weathering the summer heat, checking your dog’s paws for cuts, scrapes, or other injuries is a healthy habit.
Most dogs are the people-pleasing sort, so don’t expect them to tell you when it’s too hot to be out on the streets or sidewalks. As always, call your veterinarian for a pro’s opinion!