How to Protect Your Dog’s Feet This Summer
When it’s 75 degrees Fahrenheit or above, asphalt and concrete start to get hot. Your darling dog may want to go for a walk, or NEED to go potty, but the sidewalk and street might be too hot to be safe. Dogs are very optimistic and will follow their human family as much as possible, sometimes even to their detriment, and get burns and blisters on their paws. It’s important for you, as your dog’s biggest advocate and protector, to know how to check if the ground is safe for walking, what body language cues to look for in your dog, basic first aid for paw burns, and, most importantly, how to walk your dog safely in the summer heat.
Testing If It’s Safe
Walk outside and put the back of your hand on the sidewalk or street, if that’s the surface you plan on walking on, and count. One Mississippi, Two Mississippi, Three Mississippi, etc, until you reach seven seconds. If the ground is too hot for you, then it’s too hot for your dog’s feet. Look for alternative locations where your dog can walk in the grass or on the dirt.
Listening to Your Dog’s Body Language
If your dog is uncomfortable or in pain, your pup will tell you with his/her body language. Look for these cues:
Refusing to Walk Further
Licking or Chewing Feet
Loss of Enthusiasm
If your dog is showing these symptoms, get off the hot surface immediately and inspect his/her feet. Are there visible blisters or redness? You may need to carry your dog home, or call a friend or family member to bring a car to pick up you and your pup.
First Aid Basics
You tried to avoid the hot surfaces, but somehow your dog got paw burns. Here’s what you should do:
Cool the Area With Either Water or a Cold Compress
Do Not Let Your Dog Lick His/Her Paw Pads
Contact Your Vet for All Questions and Concerns
We spoke with Carin Ramsel DVM, from Cook Veterinary Hospital, and asked her when she’d advise pet parents to contact their veterinarian. She said, “I would seek care if the the owner is worried...definitely if the dog is having any lameness from the burns or if they are noticing that the burns are deep, since at that point they should have additional pain medication...they may need more in depth burn treatment for deep tissue injury. As an example, therapeutic laser can help decrease the pain associated with a burn as well as speed healing of the tissue.”
Lasers for paw burns? That’s why we always recommend saving your veterinarian’s phone number, and the nearest emergency vet’s phone number for quick access. You never know what specialized tools they may have available for your furry loved one.
So How Do You Safely Walk Your Dog in the Summer?
1. Walk When It’s Cool Out
Plan to get you and your pup outdoors either in the morning or evening (or both!). The ground will be much cooler and provide a more enjoyable walk.
2. Stay On The Grass
Grass and dirt do not get anywhere near as hot as the sidewalk or asphalt. If you must walk in the middle of the day, this is the way to go!
3. Paw Balm
Paw Balm is great in the summer, and winter too! It protects your dog’s feet from harsh chemicals, and provides a thin layer of protection from the heat. If you must spend some time on the sidewalk, paw balm is a great tool. This is also a wonderful option for dogs that refuse to wear shoes.
4. Dog Shoes
The best option would be dog shoes. You wear shoes to protect your feet, so why shouldn’t your dog? Many dogs are fussy about their feet being touched and will have a hard time accepting that they need to wear shoes; being barefoot is more than a lifestyle choice to these pooches. With patience, treats, and lots of love, almost any dog can be taught to wear dog shoes.
We want to give a special thanks to Dr. Carin Ramsel, from Cook’s Veterinary Hospital, for working with us on this article. Check out Cook’s Veterinary Hospital on facebook (https://www.facebook.com/cookvethosp), at their website (https://www.cookveterinary.com/), or in person at 21 W. Cimarron St., Colorado Springs, CO 80903.
How are you planning to protect your dog's toe beans this summer? Share your adventure with us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram by tagging #MamaWalksDogs. Got ideas, suggestions, or wanna share your experience? Comment below!
With puppy and kitty love,
Lily the Dog Mama