Florida heat can be hazardous to your dog’s paws. There is a simple test, called the “seven-second test”, that allows you to see if the asphalt is too hot for your dog to walk on. Place the back of your hand against the asphalt and hold it there. If you cannot comfortably hold it in place for seven seconds, it is too hot for your dog to walk on.
Even when the air temperature does not seem that hot to you, asphalt can be much hotter. Concrete, metal, wood decking, composite decking, sand, artificial turf and other surfaces can get just as hot, if not hotter.
If your dog’s paws get burnt, you should consult your veterinarian as soon as possible. In the mean time, you should cool down the affected paws. The following first aid instructions are recommended by vets.
- Cool the affected paws under running water. The water should not be ice cold.
- Bandage each affected paw or protect it with a clean sock. Depending on the size of your dog, infant and toddler socks work well.
- Do not use ice, as ice can cause tissue damage if used improperly.
There are several ways to make sure that you protect your dog’s feet. As mentioned above, perform the “seven-second test” before walking your dog. Repeat the “seven-second test” as you continue your walk and for each different surface you come to. Another option is to walk your dog on grass or on a shaded path, as this will be a cooler option. Often during the heat of the summer, it is better to schedule your walk for when the ground is cooler – early in the morning or late in the evening.
If you are not able to avoid walking your dog when it is hot, consider investing in shoes for your dog. I recommend Ruffwear Grip Trex, Muttluks Mud Monsters or Dog Mocs. Make sure that you follow the measuring instructions exactly to order the correct size shoes. Also, measure both the front and back feet, as they are often two different sizes. Most higher end dog shoes are sold in pairs specifically for this reason. You will need to work with your dog to get them used to wearing shoes. If you just put them on and let them go, you may find your investment destroyed very quickly. An additional benefit to shoes for your dog is protection against glass, toxins and other debris.
With a little care and consideration, you can protect your dog’s paws from hot asphalt and other ground surfaces and still enjoy the time you have walking, playing and exercising together.