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February 2024

Warning! Hot Pavements BURN Dogs Paws – Is Your Dog Safe?

CommunityHealth & Nutrition

We all love long walks with our dogs on sunny days – but as temperatures rise, so do the risks. Asphalt, tarmac, and pavements can quickly become too hot for pets to walk on as it can burn their sensitive paw pads. In this article, we’ll explore the risks of hot surfaces on pet paws, let you know how to avoid burnt paw pads and give our expert tips on treating pets with damaged paw pads.

Do Hot Pavements Burn Pet’s Paws?

Pavements (especially during summer but it also happens on sunny days in shoulder seasons) can reach scorching temperatures, posing a severe threat to our pet’s feet. Asphalt, tarmac, and pavements absorb heat from the sun and are often much hotter than outside air temperatures. Though you may think of your pet’s paws as hardy and tough, it’s important to remember they are made of skin cells and are susceptible to burns.

How Hot Is Too Hot To Walk The Dog?

When it comes to temperatures, unfortunately there is no ‘one size fits all’ answer for what temperature is too warm to walk your dog. There are also several factors to consider including:

How sunny it is – the ground temperature is highly influenced by the sun (rather than air temperature), so overcast days present a lower risk for burnt paw pads (though it is still important to be mindful of heatstroke). Similarly, while the outside temperature may be mild, if the sun has been out all day the pavement may still be too warm for your dog.

*Specific weather conditions *– while temperatures of over 30 degrees represent a high risk for heatstroke, cases of heatstroke have occurred in relatively mild conditions, even sunny days with temperatures of 22 degrees Celsius have resulted in heatstroke cases – so best to be vigilant with your pet in warmer months.

Dog breed – some dogs take better to heat than others. Flat-faced breeds, for example, struggle to regulate their temperature (as their difficulty breathing means they can’t effectively dispel heat through panting) so will be more sensitive to heat than other breeds.

How to Test if the Pavement is Safe for Your Dog

Because it’s difficult to determine by weather alone if the pavement is safe for your dog, the best method is to check the pavement by hand.

  1. Place the palm of your hand on the pavement.
  2. Hold it there for 7 seconds.
    If it’s uncomfortable for your hand to rest for the full 7 seconds, then it’s too hot for your dog’s paws!

Signs Of Burnt Paw Pads For Dogs

Oftentimes our dogs will try and soldier through pain, which can make it difficult to determine if something is amiss. Look out for these warning signs when walking on hot days.

  • Limping
  • Rapidly hopping from one paw to another
  • Cowering while walking or refusing to walk
  • Licking paws excessively, or biting their feet
  • Discoloured paw pads (or pads may appear darker than usual)
  • Blisters
  • Redness
  • Missing skin or sores
    If your dog is exhibiting any of these signs, take them away from the hot surface immediately and inspect their paws to ensure they’re not injured. If their paws appear damage, contact the vet immediately.

Top Tips To Prevent Burns

Choose the Right Time for Walks: Timing matters! The best time to walk your pets is first thing in the morning while temperatures are still cool. You can also try at dusk, but pavements could still be hot if they’ve been subject to hours of strong sun. Avoid walking your dog in the mid-afternoon (usually the hottest time).

Choose the Right Surface: Instead of walking your dog on the pavement, try a different surface. Grass is a much safer surface as it retains moisture which keeps it cooler. Sand is also preferable to asphalt, but remember that it does retain heat more than grass and hot sand can still burn. If you're taking your dog to the beach for extended periods, it's a good idea to bring a cooling mat.

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How To Treat Burnt Paws

If you suspect your dog has burnt their paws, you should seek vet care immediately. You can also try these tips to make your dog more comfortable prior to their vet visit.

  1. Soak your dog’s paws in cool water (NOT ice water, ice water will be too harsh on their paws).
  2. Apply disinfectant on their paws if there’s any broken skin (note, if the cuts are deep, you MUST go to the vet for further care).
  3. Gently pat their paws dry.
  4. Carefully clip the hair around their paws to prevent it irritating the paw pads. If your dog is anxious about you interacting with their paws, best to let the vet do this step.
  5. Cover the paw with a sock to prevent them from being licked. You can also use bandages if you have them.
  6. Keep checking the paws. If the wounds are deep or severe, or if they don’t improve, you must seek professional vet care.

FAQS About Burnt Paw Pads For Pets

How can I tell if my pet's paws are burnt?Pets often mask their pain. Look for signs like limping, licking, or changes in behaviour. If in doubt, consult your vet.

Is walking on grass a safer option?

Grass tends to be cooler than pavement, offering a safer option on hot days. However, be mindful that your dog can still get heatstroke on scorching hot days.

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Should I modify my walking routine in hot weather?

Absolutely, you should change your walking routine to accommodate the weather. Opt for early morning or late evening walks, to avoid the strong midday heat. Consider indoor play or mental stimulation as an alternative to traditional exercise on scorching days.

Can paw burns for dogs lead to long-term damage?

Yes, untreated paw burns can lead to infections and other conditions with long-term effects. Prompt care is essential for a full recovery. If you’re concerned your dog has burnt their paws, a vet visit it best to ensure their burns are treated properly.

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