Is The Pavement Too Hot To Walk Your Dog On?

Have you ever heard the old saying, "It's so hot outside that you could fry an egg on the sidewalk"?

Well, now that we're into the hotter temperatures of the summer months, you need to think about just how hot sidewalks and roads can get when you take your dog for a walk.

For example, a commonly referred-to statistic indicates that, when the conditions are right, an air temperature of just 77 degrees Fahrenheit can create a asphalt surface temperature as high as 125 degrees.* And while the pads on your dog's paws have to be pretty tough, they're not indestructible.

Did you know that the surface of your dog's pads is actually skin? That's right, it's hairless skin that covers the fat and tissue that makes up the pad... and while it has to be durable it's still sensitive enough for the dog to feel discomfort or pain if the pad is damaged. And just one of the ways the pad can be damaged is by being burned from hot surfaces... like pavement.

A simple way to gauge how hot the ground is, is to firmly press the back of your hand onto the pavement for 5 to 7 seconds. If you find that it's uncomfortable for your skin... that's a sign it could be uncomfortable for your dog too. Now, I'm not suggesting that you have to give up walking your dog just because it's hot outside, so here are a few ideas for making the walk more comfortable for your dog:

  • Perhaps the most obvious thing is to walk on grass as much as possible, so rather than walking on the pavement, walk your dog along the adjacent boulevard.
  • Take your dog to a local park where there's lots of grass and adequate space to walk around in.
  • Another tip is to look for shady areas to walk where the ground won't be as hot.
  • If there's only a choice between walking on concrete or asphalt, concrete doesn't absorb as much heat as asphalt, so it should be cooler.
  • Another option is to walk your dog earlier in the morning before the pavement gets hot.
  • And, while you may think they look silly, dog boots will protect your dog's paws from hot and rough terrain.

You can also do your dog a favor by checking the pads and the webbing between the pads on a regular basis for debris and any signs of damage such as cuts, abrasions and swelling. By being proactive you might just be able to identify an issue before it becomes painful for your dog, but if you're ever in doubt, the best bet is to contact your veterinarian.

*The temperature correlations represent worst-case variables: Direct sun, no wind, very low humidity, high radiant-energy. Source: Berens J., "Thermal Contact Burns From Streets and Highways" (Journal of the American Medical Assoiation)

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Positively Expert: Andrew Thomas

Andrew Thomas is a professional dog trainer and behavior consultant who strives to break the cycle of dogs being given-up on unnecessarily due to behavior issues.


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