Everybody loves the lazy days of summer and enjoying the fun activities that go along with it. Our dogs are no different! All it takes is grabbing the leash or uttering of the words, ‘out or ride’ and it’s game on! Walks in the neighborhood or park, catching a frisbee or a stroll through downtown with you is the highlight of their day.
As the temperatures begin to climb, so does a lurking danger right under our feet that many dog owners might not expect. Those scorching hot asphalt roadways and concrete sidewalks rapidly begin to sear their paws with every step; leaving blistered paws with raw flesh prone to infection. So, how can you avoid those painful burns and blisters?
Function of A Dog’s Paw Pads
It’s a common misconception that our dog’s tough and calloused paw pads are a means to protection. But stop and think how ridiculous that rationale sounds for a moment… You might run around in your calloused bare feet all the time. But if you walk on the hot afternoon pavement with bare feet; you will inevitably either jump around like a jack rabbit trying to get to cooler ground or, end up with feet that closely resemble a medium rare steak hot off the grill. Your dog is no different.
In actuality, the primary function of paw pads is not meant to protect them from intense heat and cold. But rather to promote balance and stability, enhance traction, and act as a shock absorber to the bones and soft tissue – like ligaments and tendons. Additionally, dogs will sweat through their paws. At no time are they meant to withstand extreme surface temperatures.
Just How Hot is It?
Even Texas natives know that walking barefoot on asphalt or concrete on a hot day is a recipe for painful burnt feet. Common beach sand can prove astonishingly hot in the brutal afternoon sun. So, why would it be acceptable for our dogs?
Let’s consider for a moment the average summer temperatures in Austin are a stifling 95°. Research has proven the temperature of a concrete sidewalk is a fiery 140°, while the asphalt is even hotter at 155°! What does that mean your beloved pet? Permanent damage and scarring after just one minute of contact!
When the air temperatures are a delightful 77° and breezy outside, the temperature of the asphalt under your dog’s paws is 125°. That intense heat is enough to destroy skin tissue after a mere 20 seconds of exposure.
Concrete vs Asphalt Temperatures
Many dog owners are under the misconception that concrete is somehow safer than asphalt to walk on because it’s supposedly cooler. While concrete surface temperatures do tend to run slightly cooler than asphalt, it’s most certainly far from being safer. Concrete surface temperatures tend to run an average of 15° cooler than asphalt – varying a couple degrees depending on wind and shade. Even still, concrete is just as painful and destructive as asphalt.
To help you determine what the temperatures really are on asphalt vs concrete surfaces, here is a general guide by which to go by:
Air Asphalt Concrete
80° 117° 98°
85° 130° 105°
90° 138° 123°
95° 155° 140°
* Please note these temperatures are intended to serve as only a generalized guide and may vary by a couple of degrees depending on direct sun and wind exposure. *
What is Considered Too Hot for My Dog’s Paws?
Now that you know just how hot asphalt and concrete can become, let’s discuss the type of carnage it can leave behind to your dog’s tender paws. Just imagine for a moment, an egg in frying pan… you can fry that egg in a matter of five minutes in a skillet at 131°. Keeping that in mind, think about taking your pooch for an afternoon stroll down the street on a gorgeous 85° day in downtown Austin. Now reference 85° with the temperature chart above. Get the picture? So, how do you know if it is too hot for your pet? There are a couple of ways you can gauge if these walking surfaces are too hot to walk on.
Check the Weather
The first is by looking up the air temperature outside before an outing and plan accordingly. Take into consideration whether it is an overcast or windy day and if the area you are walking in will be shaded or in direct light. When in doubt, don’t risk it! Stay on the grass or opt for a shaded walking area. Alternatively, you can wait until either early morning or later in the day when the sun is setting and temperatures have decreased to safe degree.
Thinking about taking your dog for a stroll in the nearest pet-friendly big box store? That’s a great idea to keep cool, get in some exercise and social skills! But remember; there’s pavement you will need to walk across in order to access the store. This might not be a problem if you own a ‘pocket pooch’ and can carry them from the car to the store. But for those who own the larger breeds such as a Mastiff… he might get a wee bit heavy to carry.
The 7 Second Rule
The seven second rule is very easy and basic, but an excellent way to determine if the pavement or sidewalk is too hot for your dog. Simply place your bare hands or feet onto the pavement for 7-8 straight seconds. If you cannot continually keep your hands or feet pressed firmly against the surface for the allotted time frame, than it’s its too hot for your dog.
Outdoor kennels with Concrete Floors
At Bed and Biscuit, we believe dogs are a part of the family and should be kept indoors. But we realize this is not always possible in every situation. That being said, even if the dog is provided with a doghouse or shade tree, the concrete can become your dog’s worst enemy.
If keeping your pet outdoors is unavoidable; please provide them with shelter from the elements, ample water and away from concrete/asphalt surfaces – which tend to not only radiate intense heat – but also trap your pet in their doghouse or leave burns and blisters about their bodies.
“If it’s too hot for your bare feet to walk on, than it’s too hot for your dog’s paws to be walking or standing on.”
Symptoms of Burnt Pads
Burnt pads can be a serious and painful injury resulting in many complications. Be sure to seek veterinary assistance immediately if suspect your dog has burnt pads. If you are not sure if your dog has burnt pads, pay mind to their behavior. Additionally, you can turn the paw over to closely examine them. Some signs of burnt pads can include:
Limping or hopping on hot pavement
Refusal to walk
Darker coloring of pads
Missing swatches of pad
Licking or chewing paws excessively
How to Keep Your Dog’s Paws Cool
This does not mean your dog needs to be housebound by any means. There are preventive steps you can take like walking on the grass or in the shade instead of the pavement. Venture out in cooler temperatures just after sunrise or before sunset. Maybe when it’s cloudy or after an afternoon thunderstorm.
Wearing protective boots is always a great alternative! In addition, using emollients like Musher’s Secret Paw Protection Wax or Paw Nectar will help heal, soften and protect your dog’s pads. However, emollient barrier waxes should never be a substitute for avoiding the hot pavement alone.
If you want your pooch to get in some exercise, play time and socialization while keeping them safe from extreme heat; may we suggest our doggie day care center? Our affordable Bed and Biscuit doggie day care service is the perfect solution for your furbaby to enjoy the beautiful Texas weather safely – while still benefiting from supervised playtime and socializing stimulation.