By Becky Samford, Publisher Duluth, Norcross, Suwanee, Johns Creek & Peachtree Corners Macaroni Kid July 7, 2024

Protect the Paws this summer! Almost everyone has experienced the unpleasant sensation of standing on a very hot road. How many of us realize the road can be just as dangerous and painful for our dogs? Hot pavement, sand and grasses can burn and injure a dog’s paws. Those of us who are dog lovers want to take our dogs along on outings; however, the summer months can be dangerous for dogs. Dog paw pads provide all the support your pooch needs to walk, even across tough terrain. But, throw in the hot summer sun  and your dog's paw pads can easily burn on hot pavement. Paw pads can  burn at 125 degrees in just 60 seconds.

Walking on HOT pavement, sand, blacktop, driveways, streets and parking lots can get really hot and burn your dog’s paw pads. This also includes the back of a pick-up truck (which we do not recommend you put your dog in the back of a truck, ever!), a boat dock, or any metal surface gets hot and the pads of your dog's feet need to be protected from burns and blisters. 

Prevent dog paw burns on sizzling hot pavement by walking in the morning or night when temperatures are cooler, or stick to soft, grassy surfaces rather than cement. Or if your dog will not protest too much, dog booties can provide an extra layer of protection outdoors. The best way to determine the safety of your dog's paws? Use your own!

The easiest way to determine if it's OK to walk or not is to simply place your own hand on the ground. If the surface is too hot you to comfortably place and keep your hand there for several seconds, then it's too hot for your dog to walk on.

Often, a pet owner's first clue is that the dog begins licking at her feet or may limp after a walk outside," says Erin Katribe, DVM, MS, medical director at Best Friends Animal Society. "When the paw pad is examined, this may look like discoloration, or you may see lighter, pinker tissue exposed from underneath the outer layer."

If a burn is visible on your dog's paws, or he licks his paws more than normal after a particularly sunny stroll, there are immediate actions to take. Similar to when you sting your finger on a hot stove, soaking burned paws in cool water may help soothe the injury, then the dog should be checked by a veterinarian. The veterinarian will determine if the dog needs pain medication and/or antibiotics.

Another danger to your pet is leaving them in the car while you run an errand. Even with a window cracked, in just 10 minutes the temperature can rise high enough to cause heat stroke or death. A dog’s internal temperature ranges from 99 degrees to 101.5 degrees. If the external temperature is greater than their internal temperature, panting no longer serves as a cooling device and they will not only suffer, but could develop serious problems, and in some cases even death.

Dogs give us so much pleasure and ask so little in return. Please be mindful to protect them from these summer dangers.

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