Summer is a great time to be a dog parent. The weather is warm and there’s an endless list of outdoor adventures to enjoy, from long city walks to strolls along sandy beaches. But what about when the weather is too warm?
Hot weather can be uncomfortable for dogs, especially when their paws touch hot pavement. The pads of their feet are susceptible to burns and irritation, both of which can happen quickly when it’s warm. Here are the paw protection tips you need to keep your dog safe.
Why paw protection is important in the summer
Dogs walk on their toes, and those toes are covered in thick weatherproof skin. Their paw pads are tough but vulnerable to heat, and it’s easy for them to blister or burn.
Summer heat is harmful when it heats the ground your dog walks on. Hot pavement and sand can seriously damage a dog’s paws and cause them a lot of pain. If you’re uncomfortable barefoot, they probably are, too.
How to protect dog paws from hot pavement
Foot burns aren’t inevitable in the summer, even if you live in a concrete jungle. Use these five tips to protect dog paws from heat, no matter how high the temperature climbs.
1. Avoid the sidewalk
Even if it’s only in the mid-70s, the asphalt on your sidewalk or driveway can get above 100 degrees. Stay off the blacktop and walk in the grass as much as possible.
If there’s no way to avoid the pavement, walk in the early morning or late evening when it’s cooled down a bit.
2. Take a hike in the woods
Hiking with your dog is a great way to exercise them without being on hot pavement. Choose a trail that allows dogs and make sure the hike isn’t too strenuous.
If your dog isn’t used to hikes, start with some gentler walks on hills. Slowly extend the hike as your dog gets comfortable, always getting back before they start to slow down.
Most importantly, if your dog has never hiked before or has health concerns, talk with your vet before your first time out.
3. Do a post-walk wipe down
Every time you bring your dog home from an outing, wipe their paws down with a wet washcloth or paper towel. This helps remove any irritants that might be stuck in the fur between their toes.
4. Try dog booties
Boots can protect your dog’s paws on all of your summer adventures, from daily walks to the sandy beach. They help prevent burns from hot pavement or sand, and they keep pebbles and other debris from getting stuck between the pads.
Boots labeled “breathable” and “lightweight” are ideal for summer. Alternatively, a pair of all-purpose dog boots will cover your pup’s paws in the colder months too. Either way, make sure they have treads so your dog doesn’t slip and slide.
5. Use paw protection products
To be truly prepared for summer, stock up on products that offer protection for dog paws. Some good items to have in your kit include:
- Paw balm: The dog version of moisturizing cream, designed to soothe irritated paws
- Adhesive felt pads: Protective layers that stick to your dog’s paws
- Paw wax: Designed to protect a dog’s feet from the elements, from heat to snow
There are many products that offer paw protection for dogs, and quality varies. Check reviews carefully and ask your veterinarian for a recommendation if you’re unsure.
Signs that your dog’s paws are hurt
Watch your dog in the summer for signs of paw burn, such as:
- Licking or biting the paws
- Red or pink pads
- Not wanting to walk
If your dog does get a paw injury, clean it up with a wet washcloth and ask your veterinarian for advice. Of course, the best remedy is always prevention.
Getting your dog used to paw care
If your dog resists having their paws touched, paw care can be challenging. Don’t give up—most dogs can learn to be okay with it given some fun training.
Teaching your dog to shake is a good first step. Here’s how to do it:
- Hold a treat in a closed fist. Present that fist to your dog and let them smell the treat inside.
- They’ll try to get at it with their nose, tongue—anything available. Keep your hand closed tight until they touch it with a paw.
- As soon as the paw touches your hand, say “Yes!” and let them have the treat. Repeat until they get it five times in a row.
- Once they have that level, put your hand flat and palm up. Fold your thumb down against your palm so you can hold the treat.
- When they’ve successfully given you their paw five times in a row, try it without the treat.
- When that’s easy for them, start saying the word “Shake,” as you hold out your hand.
The more you play the shake game, the more your dog will associate good things with paw touches. Paw inspections might take a bit longer, but be patient.
How to protect dog paws in the summer
Dog paw protection can be the difference between a fun-filled summer for your pup and a painful recovery on the couch. Keep your dog off hot surfaces as much as possible and look for alternative walk options. Find the right pair of boots for the moments when you have to walk on hot or rough surfaces.
Also, make sure your dog doesn’t get too hot overall. A pup’s coat is a powerful insulator, but they can only “sweat” through their feet and cool down mostly by panting. Know the signs that your dog is overheating, like heavy panting and intense drooling.
As you learn more about how to protect your dog this summer, both of you will be happier and more comfortable—and you can get back to enjoying the famous “dog days of summer.”