Hot Stepper!

Posted by Pia

Ever witness a human casually scamper across their driveway, sans sandals, on a hot summer day? Suddenly that care free stride becomes quite the dramatic interpretive dance- complete with colorful narrative and some spirited thrashing about.

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Above are some important estimates regarding thermal burns from contact with street/highway asphalt. Click to view details above and noted source.

1 Above are some important estimates regarding thermal burns from contact with street/highway asphalt. Click to view details above and noted source.

Panda here wants some assurance that her human did the pavement test properly and for the full 8 seconds!

2 Panda here wants some assurance that her human did the pavement test properly and for the full 8 seconds!

Walking on grass is far kinder 
on precious paws than pavement !

3 Walking on grass is far kinder on precious paws than pavement !

The tennis-ball-fish is among the most coveted sea creatures a dog can retrieve and befriend.

4 The tennis-ball-fish is among the most coveted sea creatures a dog can retrieve and befriend.

Summer sports can be appreciated by fur kids too- but be sure to take all safety precautions when embarking on such adventures.

5 Summer sports can be appreciated by fur kids too- but be sure to take all safety precautions when embarking on such adventures.

Supervised pool time can be great fun for canine's and a welcome way to cool off.

6 Supervised pool time can be great fun for canine's and a welcome way to cool off.

Many dogs enjoy entertaining on their yachts in the summer months.  Doggie life preservers are worthwhile to assure your fur kid's safety.

7 Many dogs enjoy entertaining on their yachts in the summer months. Doggie life preservers are worthwhile to assure your fur kid's safety.

Sunning poolside and sipping a fancy umbrella drink are pleasures not limited to human vacationers.

8 Sunning poolside and sipping a fancy umbrella drink are pleasures not limited to human vacationers.

Frolicking in a field with a BFF is one of summer's simplest pleasures!

9 Frolicking in a field with a BFF is one of summer's simplest pleasures!

Now consider the effect of that sweltering heat on 4 feet rather than 2 and with little idea of how best to escape it! Ack. Well that's how our companion animals experience many a summer stroll :(

Those kissable little pads on their paws are actually quite sensitive to the temperature of Mother Nature's asphalt cooktop all year round. They are also one of the only areas not covered in fur- and dog's don't sweat- so their pads act as part of a fur kids overall cooling system.

While I know some dog lovers harbor a secret stash of fancy pooch rain boots, sandals and high top sneakers- these admittedly fashion-forward pups need their humans to do more than don them in a pair of fancy flats for a safe stroll down Madison Ave. or Rodeo Drive.

While judging how safe the ground temperature is for Fido's little feet might seem simple, there is actually quite a bit to factor to achieve a proper assessment.

1. As a basic 'rule of paw'-If the pavement feels too hot for your barefoot, it is too hot for Fido's.

2. Pressing your own bare hands and feet on the pavement for at least 7-8 seconds is a recommended strategy to assess heat level .
If it is uncomfortable for you, then it is too hot for them. Abort 'mission dog walk' and devise another plan for the day's exercise or method of travel.

3. If the 7-8 second test yields a comfortable temperature, it is still critical to consider other factors to assess safety accurately.

4. The air temperature is NOT an accurate reflection of ground temperature at all!
Asphalt and other ground surfaces retain heat and this temperature rises exponentially as heat and sun exposure continues. (See chart above in photo gallery).

5. Furthermore, the time of day is very relevant!
Asphalt soaks up the heat all day and can only cool down at a certain rate and only when the sun retreats- so pavement that was deemed safe for a walk at 9 am may differ greatly at high noon and into the early evening.

Summer is meant to be fun and carefree for humans and fur kids alike. And as is also the case with human kids, our animal companions need us adults to stay informed and use good judgement to keep them safe. After all, splashing in the pool, digging in the sand and rolling in the grass is a lot to cover in one day...Having to also worry about paw safety is just too much to expect of anyone with such a busy summer schedule.

Stay safe, so everyone can enjoy what summer has to offer.

In kinship,
Dr. Pia Salk

Comments (8)

  • Hello Dr. Pia,
    I am up thinking again. I think this is a very very important post I bet a lot of people think that because dogs have thick pads on the bottom of their feet that they can take walking on macadam when it is hot so I hope those people read this post. I wonder Dr. Pia, does the same hold true for walking in the snow? I know Cyrus, my cousin had the pads of his feet burned off in the fire. The vet grew the pads back but Karen always worries about him in the winter too because he wants to stay out for a long time and she is worried about his pads. I know when she wakes up, she will be happy to see this post also.
    Well, I better go to sleep so I can wake up in the morning and check in to see how everyone made out over the holiday
    Love to all,
    Maddox

  • This reminds me of an unfortunate incident I had with a dog owner walking a Pekinese on a 100+ day on the street pavement that had been asphalted...I remarked in a kind manner that it's too hot for that dog to be walking on the pavement and especially being so close to the ground...I offered water because the dog was panting feverishly. Well I was told in certain terms to mind my own business and I responded that's animal cruelty and if she did not believe me call the Vet. My heart ached for that dog not only because of the pain induced by the heat but having an owner like that.

    What is wrong with people, can't they use common sense??? :-(
    Karen how sad about Cyrus, I would imagine that ice or snow could bother him...hope he is doing well.

    It was 105 degrees yesterday and Kitty wanted to be outside, I don't get it, she slept under a bunch of Hosta bushes, so funny.

    Love the photo of Minnow relaxing...so cute!
    Hugs to ALL my Glue squad friends/furfriends

    delia & Kitty ><

  • Dr Pia, this is a great post. Thank you for this. I just saw people walking their dog yesterday and I was so sad because their dog was clearly too hot. I really love your posts. Love Fala and Winnie and Johnny and Mom Alex!

  • Hello Dr. Pia,
    I am so glad for this posting today, and am making sure all my pet friends read it. Extreme temps can sure be "killers" and I am so glad for your knowledge and insight. As Maddox said, cold is another one to be careful of I am sure. This last winter Basil went out one morning to do his business and just in that short of time he was holding his paws up while trying to do his business. I always tried to have an area shoveled, but even the cold was hard. It seemed the labs with the webbed feet could tolerate the snow a bit better for a few minutes of frolick. Once again Dr. Pia, you are the best with all your insights. Also, I would wash off paws after being on the asphalt to vet's or just for walks as there are a lot of bad chemicals out there and then they come in and lick their paws. I am just a worry wort since we have had so much animal cancer in our house. Have a great day all and stay cool.
    Hugs & smiles,
    Lynn

  • Hello ladies, Kirby here.
    And hello to you too Dr. Pia. When it’s hot outside my Daddy won’t let me walk on the pavement much at all. We often walk late in the evening and around 11 PM. That way the pavement has cooled down a whole lot and isn’t that hot; just warm. Now the cold doesn’t bother me much; just think about this for a moment. Wild animals often spend months in the snow without any harm to their feet. But I don’t know of any animal who can spend months on the hot pavement. Racing Sled Dogs often have “booties” on their feet. That’s not for the cold but for the frozen ice which can cut the feet. If a team comes into a check point, during a race, and the feet of one dog is bleeding from not having booties on, they may be disqualified from the race. Booties on hot pavement won’t work because it will hold in the heat and the foot cannot cool itself. Just ask my Daddy about that. His feet often get hot while out on the pavement with thin sole shoes on.
    Catch you later, Kirby.

  • Hi Dr. Pia, Thanks for another important blog about how to protect all of our animals at any time of the year. This information about the pads of our dogs being injured if they walk on sidewalks or streets when it is extremely hot outside like it is now over a lot of our country. I have always been very careful about walking my dogs and never walked them when it was very hot during the summer time. My sweet little Dudley Do Right huffs and puffs whenever it gets hot outside and I didn't realize that his paws could get so hot-thanks for letting us know another way to protect them. Hope you had a great 4th of July and stayed safe with your animals. We had lots of noise but it was nice and cool here and never got to the 70s even. Hey all of you Glue Squaders, hope you had a great 4th and are all safe, too. Hope to hear from more of you soon. Love to all, Jan and DDR

  • Hello Dr.Pia, Dudley, Lynn, Maddox, Cora belle, rebel, and all my glue squad friends,
    Hope everyone had a very nice and safe 4th! It was 103 in the sunshine here yesterday, and 94 when mom ran a mile race in town. She was careful to keep me cool indoors with plenty of water and hydrated herself. post race she lost two pounds in sweat! She saw a lot of little and big dogs getting hot during the festivities. Its so important to keep dogs cool and out of the heat now. Great tips about walking your dogs on cooled pavement. I saw some dogs downtown in the morning then went home- no costume except a patriotic bandana for me!! Found out I am really afraid of fireworks, mom slept on the floor to keep me "safe". High paws to all, hugs for Kitty,Maddox, Missy Chow, Delia and Lynn. Abby

  • ..thanks Dr. Pia for the info..being a double coated cattledog, I overheat easily..but Lucinda and James always have some frozen peas for me to nibble on..plus for my birthday I got a A/C put in the living room window..so now I am cool 24/7...the 4th was non eventful..seems all the unwanted campers got the message and moved off the farm/ranch..but left a lot of garbage..people!!!..Dudley, do you believe it..finally summer here in the Pacific Northwest...all you wild glue squaders take it easy..over and out, Cora-Belle

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