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One of the most enjoyable aspects of dog ownership is walking with your pooch on a fine summer’s day. However, many people forget the many risks a summer’s day can bring a dog – especially his paws. Dogs’ pads are durable, they have evolved over the centuries to need to preserve the hard leather-type skin on the base of their paws, and softer skin wouldn’t suffice. However, pads can still be seriously damaged, and when they are, this brings agony to a dog, prevents them from walking, feeding, and drinking and can contribute to serious ill-health.
Think of stubbing your toe, standing on something sharp – it hurts! This is no different for your dog. When we go for a walk, and the sun is out, we protect our feet with sandals, flip-flops or shoes as second nature, yet when we’re taking our dog, we clip on the leash and go on our way without a thought for their poor feet!
Pavements, especially tar-coated asphalts, get unbearably hot in the summer (hot enough to fry an egg sometimes), and when we consider this, it seems barbaric to walk our dog on them. If a dog’s pad does become burnt, this will show in different ways to other injuries such as lacerations or infections and sometimes can remain invisible to the eye. It’s also very important to consider this if you are walking a new puppy that has very tender paw pads. Remember, if you take your dog to the beach for an outing – that hot sand can burn too!
6 tips to protect your dog’s paws when walking on hot roads and pavements
1. Aim to walk your dog when its cooler, early morning or when the sun has gone down
2. Toughen up your dog’s paw pads – by walking on concrete and hard pathways when its cooler
3. Stick to the grassy areas when it is scorching hot
4. Place moisturiser or paw wax on your dog’s paws – use a special, unperfumed pet moisturiser
5. Try to use dog boots or shoes for added protection – Ok, we know they look silly, but they will help your pet
6. Clean and check your dog’s paws often
Stick to the five-second rule – if you can’t hold the back of your hand on the asphalt or pavement for at least five seconds, it’s too hot to walk your dog.
So, how do you know if your dog’s pads are burnt?
Look for the obvious signs of dog distress, such as a change in temperament, change in appetite and general lathery, but you can also detect burns, specifically, by looking for:
- Limping / Refusing to Walk
- Persistent Licking and/or Chewing of the Pad(s
- Pads Being Darker in Colour
- Part of The Pad(s) Missing
- Blisters or peeling
How to Treat a Burnt Pad…
You must keep the area clean and cool; gently press the area with a cool compress as soon as you spot the problem. You could also move your dog to a patch of grass in a shady area. Once you have immediately treated the pad at home, you must seek treatment from your veterinarian; this could be with antibiotics or providing advice on how to treat the pad at home.
Remember, prevention is better than cure. If the heat of the day is hotter than average or you’re planning a long walk, keeping your dog at home may be kinder unless you can de-route to shaded areas such as woodlands or a walk on a grassed area.
My dog walking services always start and finish at your home, and because we are fortunate here in North London, I do not use any cars or vans to transport your dog for a walk.
Our walks generally involve visiting woodlands such as the Brook, Highgate Woods, Coldfall woods and the more shaded areas… However, if we feel it is too hot as per our extreme weather guide, then as a games-based dog walker and trainer, we will ditch the walk and play games.
You may also like our dog walking tips article.