Summer seems like the ideal season to spend time outdoors, but your dog might not always agree. Sure, he loves his walks with his favorite person, but he probably doesn’t love the way hot pavement feels on his feet. Here’s what you need to know about walking your dog in the summer.
You wear shoes when venturing outdoors, but we’re betting your dog does not. His paw pads are made up of thick skin, fat, and connective tissue, and skin can burn when it comes into contact with hot surfaces.
It might feel just comfortably warm outside, but air temperatures and pavement temperatures are two very different things. Even on relatively “average” summer days, pavement can become 40 to 60 degrees hotter than the ambient temperature! This happens due to direct sunlight, low humidity, and lack of wind; these conditions are common here in California.
For example, when it’s just 77 degrees outside, pavement in direct sunlight can be 125 degrees. And if it’s 87 degrees? That same pavement can reach about 143 degrees. It only takes about one minute on pavement that is 125 degrees for a dog’s paws to burn. And if the pavement is even hotter than that, brief contact can result in injury and pain.
But of course, your dog still wants to enjoy walks with you. The most obvious solution is to simply avoid pavement, and take your dog on walks in grass. Or, you could seek out more shady locations for your exercise sessions. Head to the beach, and walk on the sand. Hiking in the woods, on dirt paths, is another option. If you can’t avoid pavement, choose a time early in the day, before it has had time to heat up.
Some dog owners even resort to socks or booties to protect their pet’s paw pads. Just remember that many dogs will find this uncomfortable, and probably need to practice at home first.
Paw wax is another option that is growing in popularity, and only needs to be applied every few days to protect your dog’s paws. These waxes are non-toxic, so they won’t hurt pets who lick at their paws, but some might be disturbed at its presence and become a bit obsessive about trying to remove it.
You could also switch to swimming as your preferred mode of exercise during the summer. But if you choose to go this route, keep a close eye on your dog. Some are enthusiastic swimmers, but drowning is a risk just as it is with humans. Avoid overexertion or swimming alone.
And finally, remember to take along a bottle of water and a bowl, so that you can offer your dog water while out and about. Hot pavement can cause burns, but dehydration is even more dangerous in the long run.