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.
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.
Dr. Pia Salk