Your dog's paws are among the most sensitive parts of their body.
Those precious little toe beans are surprisingly susceptible to damage, whether it's a rock stuck between them, a splinter from the ground, or just being scalded by hot pavement.
When walking your dog, specially in the hotter months, making sure you know howto keep you dog paws from getting burnt on hot pavement can be as essential as making sure you feed your dog properly.
Did you know that hot pavement is a danger to dogs all around the world? Sunlight bears down on the pavement and heats it up hotter than you might imagine. Even light-colored concrete on a 90-degree day can be as hot as 135 degrees!
Dark-colored asphalt can hit a shocking 145. With the weather seeming to get hotter every year and days over 100 degrees increasingly common, concrete is a hazard every pet parent needs to know about.
Your fur baby loves to go on walks, but how safe is it on a hot day? Can you bring them out for a walk down the street, or do you need to take special precautions?
The fact of the matter is, when the pavement gets too hot, it's simply not safe for your canine companion. You need to do whatever you can to protect your pup from the heat, to avoid scalded toe beans ultimately leading to an unhappy fur baby.
Luckily, there are several options you can try, from doggy shoes to one of the most popular options amongst pet parents today: using 100% natural moisturizing dog paw balmsto help keep those toe beans looking and feeling healthy.
Before we dive into the details, it's also worth keeping in mind that when temperatures drop and your neighbors start sprinkling rock salt on the sidewalks, this too is harsh on your pups paws.
It's always best practice to wipe your pup's paws when you get home to remove anything harmful they may have picked up on their walk. Then just top off those clean paws with a little moisturizing paw balm to heal and re-hydrate their toe beans.
As always, my blog is packed with useful 📚 resources so, don't miss the read further section at the bottom. I'm sure you'll learn 🤓 a thing or two that will help you improve your fur baby's life.
Editor's Note:'How to keep dog paws from getting burnt on hot pavement' was originally written in 2021. We update this post periodically to reflect changes in techniques, new recommendations, and because I am always learning new things! Happy learning and sharing.
We generally recommend an air temperature of 64°F or below.
You might be surprised to learn that studies show asphalt temperatures run on average 40-60° degrees hotter than the surrounding air temperature.
According to an article published in the Journal of American Medicine Association, at 125°F skin destruction can happen in 60 seconds. A 125°F pavement temperature is equal to anything from 65°F to 85°F air temperature.
Keep in mind that the air temperature is NOT necessarily an accurate reflection of ground temperature. For any day hotter than 64°F, always test the pavement! We'll talk about how to test the pavement next.
Alternatively, you can choose to walk your pup early in the morning, late in the evening or on a grassy surface. According to the Department of Energy, turf lawns are on average 30 degrees cooler than the surrounding asphalt.
Test the Pavement
It can be surprisingly difficult to recognize just how hot pavement can get.
Light-colored pavement can still be 30+ degrees hotter than the air temperature, and dark-colored asphalt can be even hotter!
Here's an example chart:
It's even hotter if there's no wind and nowhere for the heat to go. Those hot summer days might be great for basking in the sunlight, but that's for spending time at the beach or in the yard, not on a hot driveway, street, sidewalk, or parking lot.
Remember, burns can happen fast.
"It only takes 60 seconds on pavement that is 125 degrees F for a dog's paws to burn. This means even if it's only 77 degrees F outside, the pavement could potentially be hot enough to burn a dog's feet if it stands on it for long enough." - TheSprucePets.
Damage can also accumulate over time, so be sure to check your pups’ paws during warmer months to ensure their toe beans are in good condition.
So, how can you test the pavement to see if it's safe?
Here are a few tips:
Try it barefoot. Your feet are just about as sensitive as your fur baby's, so if it's too hot for you to stand*, it's also too hot for your pup.
Test with your hand. Your hands, especially the backs of your hands, are sensitive to temperature. If it's too hot to be comfortable just touching* the concrete, it's too hot for your fur baby.
Use a thermometer. You can easily buy a basic laser thermometer and use it to check the surface temperatures of the places you want to walk your pooch.
*When testing with your bare foot or hands leave them stationary for at least seven seconds. If you can't stand touching the pavement for seven seconds, it's too hot for your furry friend.
Stick to the Grass
In the heat of the summer, it can stay hot for days or weeks at a time. Heatwaves can even last months in some areas! You can't very well lock your furry friend inside all this time, right?
You need to take them out for walkies to burn energy and tire them out for the evening - not to mention taking an afternoon tinkle!
When you take your fur baby out for his or her walk, try to stick to surfaces that won't be as hot as the pavement. Even dirt and sand are cooler than pavement.
Grass is better, especially grass in the shade. Even shaded pavement can be hot, but shaded grass is often no hotter than the ambient air temperature.
We understand that this can be a difficult task, especially if you live in a city where there isn't much green space available or if your fur baby loves to frolic regardless of the heat of the surface.
A lot of dogs don't realize just how hot their feet are getting until they've already burned their sensitive paws.
Luckily, a combination of a leash, some training, and a distraction with his or her favorite toy, a ball, or a stick can be enough to keep them away from the pavement.
Buy Doggy Shoes
When you go out for a walk, a trip to work, or just to wander your yard, you put on footwear, right? Maybe you wear sandals, maybe you put on shoes, maybe you pull on a thick set of boots. It all depends on the weather and your intended task, of course.
Why should your canine companion be any different?
There are plenty of vendors online who will make a set of four doggy shoes for your fur baby. Dog shoes are small and designed to protect your fur baby's paws while he or she frolics out in nature.
They're designed to tie down or fit snugly with Velcro so they don't fall off while your pooch runs and jumps and rolls in the dirt.
You want to find dog shoes that meet all of the following important criteria:
The shoes need to fit your pooch.
Just like with people, your fur baby needs shoes that fit their paws. Shoes that are too small will pinch and cause friction abrasions, while shoes that are too large can slip off easily.
There's a wide range of shoes available for dogs, both large and small, so shop around and see what works best.
The shoes need to offer traction.
We've all seen those funny pet videos of dogs called into a room with a slippery or freshly waxed floor and watched as they slide around a corner past the doorway they wanted to enter, bumping safely into a wall or piece of furniture.
It's all fun and games inside, but there are hazards outside.
Shoes with traction are a must to help your fur baby keep their balance, avoid tripping, or sliding into obstacles or other people.
Dogs can already be pretty clumsy on their own; you don't want to exacerbate the problem.
The shoes need to be snug enough to not fall off, but loose enough to not hurt.
If your doggy shoes are too snug, they can cut off circulation, pinch toes, chafe around the ankles, or generally be irritating.
On the other hand if they're too loose, your furry friend might shake them loose and leave them in the dirt, or they can get caught on obstacles.
Let's face it, some dogs don't like shoes. No matter how comfortable or well-sized the shoes are, your fur baby may shake them off, chew at them, or even refuse to move until the booties are removed.
If he or she refuses to let you put shoes on their paws, what other options do you have?
One common suggestion is to use socks. Socks can work as a sort of loose shoe in a pinch, providing just enough protection from the heat to make it across a parking lot or sidewalk to the grass.
Unfortunately, they have the same problem as shoes. If your fur baby doesn't want something wrapped around their ankles, it won't matter whether it's shoes or socks.
Another option is peel-and-stick paw pads. These pads are essentially stickers. They have adhesive on one side, a thick construction to provide structure, and a grippy side to provide traction.
Simply peel them from their package and stick them to your fur baby's toe beans. That way, the stickers may absorb heat and protect your fur baby from the hot pavement.
The biggest downside to this option is that most paw pad stickers are made for indoor use only. They can deteriorate when they rub against something as abrasive as pavement, they can dissolve and fall apart if they get wet, and they aren't necessarily designed to insulate from hot pavement.
If you want to protect your fur baby's feet from the heat, you might need to find specific products to do it. Any old sticker won't work.
Also, some dogs who don't like shoes won't like stickers either. They simply don't like anything stuck to their feet, and that applies to both shoes and paw pads alike.
If your pup is averse to all forms of footwear, you can try some desensitization techniques to help ease the transition. Start with putting the shoes on when your pup is relaxed.
Praise and reward then remove. Continue lengthening the time the shoes are on at rest to allow your pup to get more tolerant. Once they get used to the shoes at rest, move on to using them for short periods around the house before trying them outside.
With time, and a lot of praise your pup will start to associate the shoes with positive rewards and you’ll be good to go.
Avoid the Heat of the Day
Probably the best tip, especially for a fur baby that hates anything stuck to their feet, is to limit your walks to the early morning or late evening hours.
Watch for times when the air temperature drops, when the sun goes down, and when the heat of the day is passing.
"This is probably an obvious tip but one that folks sometimes don't consider enough. It's a great idea to take your dog out on daily walks, but be mindful of when and where you walk him. The best time to walk your dog is in the morning or late evening when the pavement is cool. Avoid walking your dog in the afternoon when the sun is high in the sky or early evening because the pavement will be hot." – Hemet Fire Department.
Yes, this means it's more difficult to get that lunchtime walk in or take those photogenic pictures of your fur baby playing in the sun.
You might also miss the routine of playing with his or her friends at the local dog park. Either way, the health and safety of your fur baby is more important than anything else.
How Do You Know If Your Dog's Paw is Burnt?
The following symptoms may indicate burned paws:
Limping or reluctance to walk
Licking or chewing their paw
Changes in the paw pad color
Pads may be visibly damaged
Redness or evident blisters
How to Treat Burned Dog Paw Pads
Hopefully the recommendations in this post will help you keep your dog’s paw pads safe from burns, but sometimes accidents do happen.
Here’s what you can do to treat dog paw pad burns.
Assess the severity of the burn. Only you know your dog and you’ll be able to decide whether you should treat your dog at home or if a vet visit is in order.
If we are not talking about a second- or third-degree burn, then there are some effective home remedies you can apply. For second or third-degree paw pad burns seek medical attention immediately.
For minor burns:
Gently clean your dog’s paws. Any debris or foreign objects embedded in the pad should be removed.
Immerse the affected paw in cool water or saline (salt and purified water). Alternatively, you can also spray the affected area with cool water or saline.
Dab with a clean rag to fully dry the affected area. Allow it to air-dry for a few minutes.
Apply a paw pad balm. A natural and preferably organic dog-safe ointment or paw balm can help soothe your dog’s paws.
Keep your dog from licking the injured paw. A cone, doggy or baby socks can be used.
Repeat treatment twice a day for 3-5 days.
Use a Moisturizing Balm
One option for canines that don't like anything attached to their feet is a balm or wax. Paw balms and paw waxes, like our Momma Knows Best Hydrate and Soothe paw balm, help protect, heal, and restore your furry friend's toe beans.
How do they work? These balms are made of organic, naturally skin loving and needed protective ingredients. These materials help hydrate and heal your furry friend's feet. When he or she has cracked, dry, or blistered toe beans, heat can be much more of a problem.
By keeping their beans healthy, they can be much more resilient to brief exposure to hot pavement. These protective balms won't protect your fur baby from hot pavement, but they can make it safer to walk across the street or a short distance down the sidewalk without pain.
You can pick up a container of our balm from our website at the link above. Be sure to check out our other options as well; we have balms for several purposes.
When it comes to paw balms it's important to keep in mind that not all dog paw balms are created equal. Because dogs usually lick their paws, you need to make sure that the paw balm you pick is free from chemicals, heavy metals, and other toxins.
These harmful substances find their way into your pup’s blood stream and later into their vital organs. Your best bet when it comes to dog paw balms is to go for USDA organic dog paw balms only. Learn how to buy safe dog paw balms here.
Can I Put Vaseline on My Dog's Burned Paw?
Technically yes, you can. However, we do not recommend using Vaseline or any other synthetic alternatives to treat burnt paw pads. The problem with using anything non-natural is ingestion. Dogs tend to lick their paws to alleviate any discomfort, itchiness, or pain.
While Vaseline is considered safe to use on your dog, it’s not a food item. One of the main concerns regarding ingestion of synthetics is the potential impact on the GI flora (normal gut bacteria) which may result in an upset stomach. While not serious, putting your dog through this is completely unnecessary especially when natural paw balm alternatives exist.
Watch for Warning Signs
Remember, your fur baby is susceptible to heat in more than just surface contact.
According to the American Kennel Club:
"A dog's normal resting temperature ranges from 99 to 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit. Any temperature over 104 signals heat stress. Over 105 registers as heat exhaustion, and more than 106 is heatstroke requiring emergency veterinary care." – AKC.
Watch for warning signs like seeking shade, sitting down, excessive panting, nausea, and excessive saliva.
And, if your fur baby experiences confusion, blue or purple gums, dizziness, bleeding, or a refusal to drink water, bring him or her to the vet immediately as they might be experiencing a dangerous case of heatstroke.
Luckily, it's not too difficult to take care of your fur baby on hot days. The best things you can do are use a hydrating paw balm to keep his or her feet healthy, avoid taking walks during the hottest hours of the day, and avoid the hot pavement as much as possible. Your fur baby will thank you for it!
Interested in more dog care guides? I have picked a bunch for you!
Do you have any tips to keep your pup's sensitive paws safe from the hot asphalt? Please share with your fellow pet parents in the comments below!
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Additionally, if you are feeling like getting a little something for your fur baby that is made right here in the USA, 100% safe and, USDA certified organic, check out Toe Beans online pet supplies store!
K Marie Alto
K. Marie is an animal lover, wife, kitty mom, dog auntie, writer, and co-founder of Toe Beans, a proud American family-owned online boutique pet supplies store focused on the improvement of the life of furry family members via pet parent education, better products, and advocacy. She has over 20 years of experience as a pet momma. She loves sharing her personal journey and experience as a pet parent via her blog and Facebook page where she currently has more than 30K followers (@furrytoebeans) and counting :-).