All dog owners are very aware of most of the main hazards that can pose a threat to their dog’s health in the summer-such as being left in a hot car, not drinking enough water, or exercising during the hottest hours of the day, all of which can lead to dangerous and potentially fatal heat stroke. Some dog owners of course have their work cut out for them more than others-such as the owners of brachycephalic dogs like the French bulldog, who find it much harder to cope during the heat.
However, there is another common summer hazard that not so many dog owners are aware of, and yet it is one that a number of dogs suffer from and require veterinary treatment for every year-burnt paws. Because we as people of course tend to wear shoes, we are not always aware when walking surfaces become uncomfortably hot and pose a risk of burning our feet. Even if we do happen to walk barefoot over a hot pavement, we still tend to assume that because dogs walk over all sorts of terrain in bare feet, that this will not affect them badly.
During the summer months, overly hot pavements and other common surfaces that your dog probably walks over daily with no problems can become dangerously hot, to the point that they can actually cause serious and painful burns to the pads of your dog’s paws.
In this article, we will look at this problem in more detail, and provide advice on how to tell what constitutes too hot, and how to protect your dog’s paws when everything is sweltering. Read on to learn more.
The skin on the bottom of a dog’s feet compared to that on a person’s feet is undeniably different-our feet tend to be soft and reasonably thin-skinned on the soles of our feet, although if we spend a lot of time walking barefoot, certain parts of the feet harden up and develop thicker layers of dead skin in defence.
The pads of a dog’s paws have of course evolved to match their lifestyles, and they are hardy and tough enough to stand up to the rigours of the types of surfaces that they walk on normally. This is partially due to the dog’s conformation and partially due to adaption-for instance, a dog that generally only walks on grass might get sore paws if they suddenly spend a lot of time walking on pavements or gravel. Changes like this should be taken gradually, to allow the pads of the paws to acclimatise to the change, and harden up accordingly.
However, regardless of how hardy your dog is, the types of surfaces they walk on and what they are used to, no dog can walk over a dangerously hot surface and come out unscathed!
The main hazard when it comes to the risk of burnt paws tends to be roads and pavements-Tarmac and asphalt that tend to heat up slowly and retain their heat in the summer long after the sun has gone in.
Surfaces like grass are highly unlikely to get too hot to walk on, but of course stone and metal soon get very hot, as does sand, so the beach is somewhere else to be wary too! When the summer really kicks in and the days are very hot as a whole is when surfaces such as roads and pavements may get dangerously hot.
Before you take your dog out walking, place a hand or a bare foot on the pavement you will be walking on-if you cannot keep your hand on it for longer than five to ten seconds due to the uncomfortable heat, this is too hot for your dog to walk on without damaging their paws.
The surface of Tarmac and asphalt will be a lot hotter than the ambient air temperature-so don’t try to use the heat of the day to judge it! For instance, when the ambient air temperature reaches around 25 degrees Celsius, the pavement or road temperature can be well over 50 degrees. This is hot enough to cause dangerous damage to the pads of your dog’s paws in the course of just a minute or two. As soon as the weather forecasts start predicting days of 25 degrees or more, start checking the pavements before your dog steps out.
If the pavement and road are too hot for your dog to walk on safely and comfortably, you must ensure that they do not have to walk across them unprotected-even for a few steps.
If there is an alternative route that you can take when walking that allows you to avoid walking on pavements in hot sun or even altogether, this will of course work! However, to ensure that your dog can walk on all surfaces comfortably in hot weather, you may need to invest in a set of protective booties, which are designed to protect against hot pavements and rough, harsh surfaces alike.
These may take some getting used to on your dog’s part-so try to buy a pair and get them used to wearing them before your summer walks depend on it!