Summer has begun. I don't care if the official First Day of Summer is June 21st - in Las Vegas this week we are going to hit triple digits. It might be a myth that you can fry an egg on a hot sidewalk, but it’s a fact that you can burn your skin on one - your feet and your dog's paws.
Pavement, especially asphalt, absorbs a lot of heat. That heat mirage shimmer you see when you're driving is really a thing. On a sunny summer day, the ground can get hotter than the surrounding air — and hot enough to cause skin to burn.
A little knowledge and preparation can go a long way in preventing thermal burns during the summer. Make sure you’re always wearing adequate footwear when you go outside — even if you’re just walking down the driveway to get the mail.
And be aware of additional dangers that hot pavement poses to certain groups of people and for your pets.
A special risk for seniors
Seniors, especially those who have neurological conditions, are prone to falls. And falling becomes even more dangerous when it happens on a hot driveway, sidewalk or parking lot.
On hot pavement, even if it takes a minute or two to get up, they could be at risk for burns. We recommend that anyone with a history of falls keep a towel or blanket in their car that could be rolled underneath them to protect their skin if they fall and are unable to get up. We also recommends a car cane, which locks into the latch of a car door so that someone who needs assistance getting in or out of the vehicle doesn’t have to touch the hot exterior of the car for support. It also has a few other features- which makes it handy - but in Vegas - those car doors can get HOT!
Hot pavement can also be dangerous for people who have neuropathy. If they experience decreased sensation in their feet, they might not realize if they are stepping on a surface that’s reached an unsafe temperature. Anyone with this condition should always wear well-fitted shoes with supportive bottoms on hot and sunny days. Make sure to check your feet anytime you go outside to make sure your feet are ok.
Kids & unsuspecting surfaces
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has warned that children can get thermal burns from playground equipment. And it’s not just those metal slides that can heat up to dangerous temperatures — plastic and rubber equipment can burn a child’s skin, too. If you drive around many towns now the playgrounds have canopies to protect tender skin on playground equipment. We recommend doing a touch test of playground equipment to make sure it’s not too hot before letting kids play on it. Running around barefoot at the pool or beach can also be harmful to kids’ little feet, so make sure they have appropriate footwear for these occasions. Smooth Baby skin - we all want it - but for feet on hot surfaces it can be very damaging.
Pavement heats up quickly and gets even hotter than the air surrounding it so when it is hot outside, the ground can potentially cause burns to paw pads. Knowing when it's too hot to walk a dog or how to prevent its paws from burning is crucial in preventing burns and discomfort in your pet.
Dogs have paws that may be partially covered with fur, but they also have paw pads that lack this furry covering. There are a variety of methods to cover your dog's paw - whether they are paw pads, booties, or socks. Sometimes it really just depends on what you dog is going to let you do to them and what works for you.
Pavement and Air Temperatures
Any hard road or street surface can be considered pavement and while black asphalt pavement is especially concerning when it comes to heating up, even concrete surfaces can get too hot for a dog to walk on. Despite what one might think, the temperature of the air is not the same as the temperature of the pavement. This means that as it gets warmer outside the ground can approach scalding temperatures that are unsafe for paw pads.
Asphalt temperatures can be much hotter than the air temperature (when in direct sunlight with no wind and low humidity) so it's important to be aware of the difference between pavement and air temperatures.
Alternatives to Walking on Pavement
Dogs need exercise so if it's too hot to walk on the pavement then you might wonder how else you can provide the necessary energy exertion for your dog. The most simple alternative to walking on pavement would be to walk on grass or soil. There a number of dog parks all over the city. I think in most cities now dog parks exist. The trick is to find one you like and maybe has the right mix of dogs for you and your fur baby. These surfaces do not heat up as much as the hard pavement and are typically safer to walk on. If there is no grass to walk on, consider swimming in a pond or lake, going on a "walk" inside the house, playing in a grassy yard, going to a dog park, or spending some time at doggie daycare. It is important to remember that in hot weather, physical exertion can bring risks of heat stroke, so take your dog's individual health concerns and the temperature into account before exercising on a warm day.
When to go for a Walk
Finally, walking your dog earlier in the day before the pavement has had a chance to heat up or later in the day after the pavement cools off may be necessary to prevent injury. Sometimes simply changing your walk schedule is all you need to do to keep your dog safe. Maybe the easiest rule of thumb (no pun intended) is to do this 5 Second Rule. Simply - If you can't hold the back of your hand against the ground for 5 - 7 seconds - it's too hot for the paws
Just a few tips and information for your feet and your fur babies. I have 3 dachshunds. I would be devastated if I burned their little paws. I thought I'd share information that I found that maybe you never thought of. I really didn't - until we needed to take them for walks more. This summer is proving to be a little bit of a challenge. Sadly it doesn't cool off enough in the evening - even after the sun has gone down, the pavement is still giving off a lot of heat - so earlier walks will have to become the new norm. For yourself its not such a big deal - WEAR SHOES! Just be careful for those "quicky" trips - getting mail - into the pool etc - that you didn't think the ground would be quite that hot.
Just be careful out there - you and your dogs!