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When is the Pavement Too Hot for My Dog’s Feet?

Golden Retriever ElleVet

With the summer months upon us, we may want to bask in the summer sun. As dog parents, we know nothing sounds better than enjoying the weather with our canine companions. 

It certainly is possible, but before you and your dog hit the streets, it is necessary to take precautions to ensure that the hot asphalt pavement is not damaging your dog’s paws. Understanding how to prevent and manage burns on your companions’ critical appendages is imperative to protect your dog. 

We may not be able to interpret adjustments to heat or the pain our furry friends are in, so we must educate ourselves on the potential dangers of bringing our dogs in the summer heat. Once we do so, we can enjoy the refreshing ease of the summer season with our happy, healthy dogs

What Is the Anatomy of Dog Paws?

Your dog’s paws serve many critical functions. Like human feet, they are made for walking, running, stretching, and “high-fiving.” Unlike human feet, the appendages also help regulate a dog’s temperature, as sweat glands and adipose fat tissue layers maintain canine homeostasis

Their regulatory function makes it all the more important to protect your dog’s paw pads from the damage they are vulnerable to during the sweltering summer heat. The sensitive and vital paw pads can toughen with use, like a callous on a human hand, but even the toughest paw may not withstand pavement temperature. 

How Hot Is the Pavement Really? 

The outside air temperature is not the same as the pavement temperature. Enjoying a summer stroll with your canine companion may seem harmless; however, asphalt temperatures can be up to 60 degrees hotter than the air temperature. 

For perspective, hot asphalt can fry an egg in five minutes. Air temperature and various parameters like surface material, cloud cover, wind, daytime, and humidity influence pavement temperatures. 

As a general rule, asphalt temperatures vary with air temperature, as shown below: 

Air Temperature:Asphalt Temperature: 

How Fast Can Dogs Burn Their Paws on Asphalt?

It only takes 60 seconds on the pavement, which is 125℉, for a dog’s pads to burn. This means the pavement could be potentially dangerous when the air temperature is 77℉. 

An excellent way to test if the pavement is safe for your dog is the “seven-second rule:” Place the back of your hand on the pavement. If you cannot hold it there for at least seven seconds, the surface is too warm for your dog! 

What Are Six Ways To Prevent Pad Burn?

Walk Your Dog When It Is Cool

Try to walk your dog early in the morning (before 10 a.m.) or later at night (after 7 p.m.) when the pavement may be cooler. Avoid walking your dog in the afternoon or early evening when it’s hot outside. 

Stay on the Grass 

While many surfaces can conduct and retain heat, it is essential to minimize contact with asphalt, concrete, stones, sand, and hot surfaces. 

Check Their Paws Frequently 

Check for blisters, cuts, cracks, sores, or foreign objects that cause abrasions. Make sure to routinely check the asphalt using the seven-second rule and the back of your hand.

Use Paw Wax

Special wax can be applied to a dog’s paw pads before walking and dries in seconds to provide a protective barrier. 

Dog Shoes 

Your dog may be initially averse to wearing booties; however, they can be a solution for extreme weather conditions and are sure to protect your dog from hot pavement. 

It is crucial to get the right size and shoes with rubber or neoprene soles, as they are most protective against damaging surfaces. These boots, however, should not be worn for great lengths of time, as the sweat glands in your dog’s paws allow body temperature regulation.

The Best Prevention for Overheating

On warm, uncomfortable days, even the toughest of paw pads are vulnerable to the searing heat of the asphalt, and on these days, keep your pets inside as much as possible. 

Is My Dog Suffering from Pad Burn? 

Your dog may be suffering from pad burn if they are experiencing any of the following symptoms:

How Should You Treat Pad Burn? 

If your dog has paw pad burns, talk to your vet. Your veterinarian can determine the severity of the burns and an appropriate action plan for treatment, which will likely include antibiotics and bandaging the paws, given the high risk of infection. 

In the meantime, you can do the following at home:

  • Flush your dog’s feet with cool water for 10 to 15 minutes
  • Rest. This may require some patience, given the paw pads are your dog’s motion areas, but it is essential so they don’t further injure their paws.
  • Gently clean your dog’s paws. Wash gently with water and anti-bacterial soap to eliminate any debris 

What Are Preventive Measures Against Hot Surface Burns for Dogs?

To prevent paw pad burns, pet parents must be proactive, especially in hot weather. Dog booties can be an effective defense against hot surfaces, providing a barrier between sensitive paws and the hot pavement. However, they can also cause sores or overheating, so ensure you are checking your dog’s paws throughout your walk and not leaving them on for long periods.

When choosing dog shoes, ensure they fit well and are made of breathable material to allow natural temperature regulation. For those dogs resistant to booties, paw wax is an alternative that can be applied directly to the foot pads, offering a protective layer without affecting the dog’s natural gait.

Summertime activities should also include swims or playtime in shaded grassy areas to avoid heat exhaustion. Ensuring your dog has access to cool water throughout the day is vital. After each walk, a preventive routine of washing your pet’s paws with cool water can help soothe and prevent heat-related discomfort

Monitoring the air temperature and opting for early morning or late evening walks when the ground is cooler will protect your dog from the risks of hot asphalt. By taking these measures, dog owners can help ensure the health and happiness of their pets during the summer heat.

How Can You Do First Aid for Burned Dog Paws?

When a dog suffers from burned paw pads, immediate first aid can make a significant difference in their recovery. Cooling the burned paws gently with cool water can provide initial relief. Applying a topical, pet-safe antibiotic ointment for minor burns can prevent infection and aid in healing. 

However, it’s critical to seek professional veterinary care to evaluate the severity and receive appropriate treatment, which may include bandaging and prescription medication.

Continuous monitoring for signs of pain, like limping or excessive licking, is necessary for pet parents. In the event of more severe burns, a veterinarian may prescribe pain medication and recommend rest, restricting the injured paw from bearing weight to prevent further damage. 

Moisturizing creams designed for a dog’s pads can also support the healing process. For ongoing care, pet owners should consider paw protection as part of their dog’s wellness routine, especially in anticipation of the hot summer months, to avoid the distress of burned dog paws and ensure their pet can enjoy the season with minimal risks.

Wrapping Up

Hot asphalt and other hot surfaces during the summer can cause severe burns to a dog’s paw pads, resulting in a condition often overlooked by pet owners. When the air temperature rises, so does the temperature of pavement and sidewalks, making dog walks potentially hazardous. 

The sensitivity of a dog’s pads can vary, but the risk of injury is significant on a hot day. If a dog is limping or refusing to walk, it could indicate the severity of the burn. For pet parents, it’s crucial to assess the dog’s feet after walks, looking for signs such as blisters or darkened pads that suggest the need for veterinary care.

In cases of suspected paw pad burns, it’s advisable to flush the injured paw with cool water and apply a moisturizing, antibacterial agent to prevent infection. A visit to a DVM (Doctor of Veterinary Medicine) is necessary to properly determine the burn’s severity and prescribe pain medication or topical treatments like antibiotic ointment to promote healing. 

Preventative measures such as using paw wax or dog booties and planning walks during the early morning or late evening can help maintain your furry friend’s paw wellness in the summertime.


Paws Can Help Dogs Regulate Their Temperature | The Wolf Center

How hot does pavement get in summer? | UGA Cooperative

Canine pododermatitis | NIH

First Aid for Torn or Injured Foot Pads in Dogs | VCA Animal Hospitals