5 December 2022
Pavements heat up rapidly and get even hotter than the air surrounding them, so when it is hot outside, the ground can potentially burn paw pads. In order to prevent burns and discomfort for your pet, knowing when it’s too hot to walk a dog and how to prevent his paws from burning is crucial.
Anatomy of a dog’s foot
Dogs have furry paws, but they also have paw pads without fur. Although paw pads protect the feet from rough surfaces, provide shock absorption, and provide traction, they are not impervious to burns. Each dog’s foot has five paw pads that contact the ground, as well as two additional pads on its front limbs that are not usually in contact with the ground. Skin, fat, and connective tissue make up each paw pad.
Temperatures of the pavement and air
While black asphalt pavement is especially problematic when it comes to heat buildup, even concrete surfaces can become too hot for a dog to walk on. Despite what you might think, the air temperature is not the same as the temperature of the pavement. With warmer temperatures outside, the ground can reach scalding temperatures that are dangerous for paw pads.
Since asphalt temperatures can be much higher than air temperatures (40 to 60 degrees warmer than air temperatures), it’s essential to be aware of the difference.
How Long Does It Take for a Burn to Develop?
When asphalt temperatures are above 130 degrees Fahrenheit, the skin will show signs of burning within 60 seconds. If the air temperature is higher than 80 degrees Fahrenheit, the pavement could potentially burn a dog’s feet if he stands on it for long enough.
Alternatives to Pavement Walking
If it’s too hot outside to walk on the pavement, it might feel tricky to provide your dog with sufficient exercise. Walking on grass or soil is the simplest alternative to walking on the pavement as they do not heat up as much as hard pavement and are generally safer to walk on. Consider swimming in a pond or lake, playing in the grass, going to a dog park, or, if you’re able, spending some time at a doggie daycare.
How to prevent pavement burns
You can protect your dog’s paws from burns if you must walk on the pavement. It may seem silly at first, but dog shoes, socks, and booties protect dog paw pads very effectively. Styles and sizes vary, with some being bulkier than others. If your dog isn’t used to wearing shoes, socks, or booties, you’ll want to give it time to adjust before taking it for a walk. Let your dog learn how to walk comfortably while wearing foot coverings in the house.
A dog can also wear paw wax instead of shoes or boots. A special wax can be easily applied to a dog’s pads before walking and dries in seconds. The wax is usually applied every few days or weekly, and it is safe for your dog to lick.
It is best to walk your dog earlier in the day before the pavement starts to heat up or late in the day after it has cooled down. Changing your dog’s walk schedule is sometimes all it takes to keep him safe. Playing fetch or chasing your dog on the hot pavement should also be avoided. Repeated scratching of the paws against hot ground increases the risk of paw injuries.
What is the safest time for a dog to walk on the pavement?
If the air temperature is 76 degrees Fahrenheit or cooler, you don’t have to worry about walking your dog on the pavement. You can use a laser temperature gun to check if the pavement is too hot to walk on if it is above this temperature. Try holding your bare hand on the pavement for 10 seconds to determine whether or not it is too hot for your dog.