When is the Heat Dangerous for Dog Paw Pads?
On scorching summer days, humans have the privilege of wearing flip-flops and shoes to protect their feet from the asphalt or concrete ground. Asphalt absorbs the sun’s rays, making a perfect surface area to fry an egg, or cause injury to a dog paw pad. Air temperature can be misleading. At only 77 degrees Fahrenheit, asphalt temperature can reach 125 degrees—hot enough for skin destruction to occur after 60 seconds of contact. At this temperature, asphalt is only six degrees short of being able to fry an egg in five minutes. Since air temperature is not always an accurate reflection of ground temperature, it’s important to be aware of the heat index to protect your dog’s paw pads!
Dogs are what’s known as a digitigrade species. This means that they walk on their toes, unlike plantigrade species, who use the entire sole of their feet to move. The part of a dog’s paw that makes the most contact with the ground is the pads.The metacarpal, metatarsal, and digital pads function as the load-bearing, shock-absorbing pads. Although these dog paw pads are tough, they can only take so much heat before injury can occur. The carpal pad makes less contact with the ground and is used for skid and traction when a dog is on an incline or stopping.
A dog’s paw has five basic parts:
- Digital Pads
- Metacarpal Pad (front paws)
- Metatarsal Pad (rear paws)
- Dew Claw
- Carpal Pad
The Five Second Rule
If you live in a hot climate, with temperatures that reach into the 90’s then you need to know the ten-second rule. Veterinarians agree, this is one of the simplest and best gauges to discern if the ground is too hot for a dog paw pad.
To assess the heat level, place the back of your hand against the pavement. If you cannot hold it for five seconds, it’s too hot to walk your dog. If the back of your hand is uncomfortable, it can be painful for your dog to walk on this surface. When the pavement reaches this temperature, many dogs will whimper or begin ‘high-stepping’ on the pavement.
If this is the case, stop the walk. Try and find shady areas or routes that are not in direct contact with the sun. Grass and dirt paths won’t absorb as much heat, so you can try sticking to these walkways.
Dog Boots Or Shoes
Some awesome pet supplies you can get for your dog are dog shoes. A dog paw can only withstand so many of the elements and dog shoes come in handy for more than one season. Dog boots, or shoes, can protect dog paws from rain, snow, salt, and heat. Also, any sharp debris, burrs, or salts that can injure a dog’s paw pads cannot pierce through the material.
High-quality dog shoes made with durable moisture-resistant materials, keeping sharp objects and water out. They also are equipped with reflective straps for extra visibility and protection during night walks.
If you live in a hot climate or a major city with tons of concrete, consider getting your dog some extra protection.
Let Your Dog Dig
Yes, dogs do tear up our backyards as a form of entertainment but many are also doing this to keep cool. Soil further from the ground surface-level is less hot and your dog’s digging efforts may be an effort to reach this cooler soil. If it’s possible, locate a shady area where you allow your dog to dig.
If you want to keep your backyard pristine, it’s better to just keep your dog inside with the A/C cranked. Remember if your dog gets dirty you can take them by your local Splash and Dash for unlimited bathing, brushing, and loving!
We at Splash and Dash Groomerie & Boutique believe that exercise for dogs is very important! When the heat is unbearable, your dog still needs to get all their energy out. Instead of a walk, why not head down to your local dog beach or lake for a swim?
If neither of these is an option for your doggo, you can think of buying a paddling pool for your dog to splash around in. A paddling pool helps them cool down without presenting the danger to their dog paw pads.
Keep Dog Paw Pads Moisturized
A dog’s paw pad is naturally tough but dogs aren’t meant to walk over the hard, hot surfaces like concrete and asphalt. Combined with frequent walks overtime, it may be necessary to moisturize your dog’s paw pads. Moisturizing their paw pads can help prevent cracking, peeling, and minor injuries. Even more helpful, Splash and Dash Groomerie & Boutique offers a pawdicure treatment that not only moisturizes a dog’s paws but removes bacteria through a cleansing effervescent scrub.
More Tips to be Safe in the Heat
Not only should dog owners be cognizant of their dog’s paw pads but be aware of heatstroke in general. Nordic dogs with double coats have a natural insulation process but have a higher chance of overheating when the heat index is over 100 degrees. When you are not home, the best practice is to leave your dog inside with the air conditioner running. Never leave your dog in a parked car! Temperatures can reach fatal levels in minutes.
Start a walking schedule that is either early in the morning, or late at night, when the pavements had time to cool off. When walking, stick to pathways that are not asphalt or concrete and remember the five-second rule. Bring a water bottle and collapsible bowl for your dog to drink from. If your dog starts exhibiting any signs of heatstroke, stop walking immediately and help cool him down.
Dog Heat Stroke Signs Include:
- Red Gums
- Non-Production of Urine
- Sudden Kidney Failure
- Heart & Lung Failure
- Vomiting Blood
- Blood in Stool
- Muscle Tremors
- Uncoordinated Movement
If your dog begins symptoms of heatstroke, contact emergency veterinary services. In the meantime, there are some things you can do at home to help them reach a healthy temperature.
Steps to Cooling Your Dog Down:
- Place them in a bathtub or a cool (not cold) body of water. If this is not an option run cool hose water over their coat.
- Allow water to fill up the tub, keeping their head elevated to prevent aspiration pneumonia.
- Apply a cold pack to your dog’s head to lower body temperature.
- Massage their limbs. This helps circulate their bloodstream and reduces the risks of shock.
- Let him drink as much water as he wants and add a pinch of salt to replace minerals lost from panting.
For more information of dog heatstroke, click here!
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