The weather here in Florida is amazing right now but the heat is right around the corner, as it will be for many parts of US. And though we LOVE being able to walk our puppers on beautiful, sunny days, as dog owners, we need to be savvy as to our dogs’ warm weather walking safety.
Our dogs rarely, if ever complain about being out on a walk—even if the conditions are too hot for them. And, you know what? It is surprisingly easy to burn your dog’s paws on superheated surfaces—even when the air temperature is pleasant.
Pavement can reach 125 degrees when the environmental temperature is only 77 degrees outside.
I did not realize this—and sadly my little love-of-my-life Havanese, Noelle, paid the price with two burned paw pads. And, YES, I did the seven second surface test (more below) to make sure it wasn’t too hot to walk.
Needless to say, I was horrified that I had been the cause of inflicting such pain on my little Havi. During the walk, she acted as if nothing was wrong. She adores me and never stopped bouncing and talking joyfully the entire walk. But I should have known!
I was devastated that I did this to my best furrend. (She quickly recovered—the bleeding spots were small and we cleaned them and she rested for a week.)
So, learn from me; definitely don’t do what I did!
So, the basic guideline is to put your hand on the surface you'll be walking your dog on, hold it for at least 7 seconds and see if it's uncomfortable. If it is uncomfortable, the surface has the potential to burn your dog's pads quickly.
You can also stand in your bare feet on the surface to gauge the heat. And remember, your dog will walking on this surface for 20, 30 40 minutes -- and the temperatures could be getting hotter as you walk.
ABC15, "As Temperatures Ramp Up, Protect Your Dog's Paws," May 23, 2019
HOT HOT HOT
Surfaces that can become quite hot and retain heat include:
Early morning is a popular time to walk when the weather warms up because shadows are long, shade is plentiful and surfaces have not had a chance to start heating up. Additionally, home owners commonly water their lawns early in the morning, which gives your doggo a chance to trot through cool, wet grass and wet pavement -- further allowing him to keep his pads from getting too hot.
Alternatively, you can walk in the late evening. The air temperature may still be warm but as soon as the longer shadows and shade starts to hit surfaces, they will begin to cool down. Be alert to the fact that some surfaces will retain heat for a long time.
Surface that do not super heat include grass and dirt paths. Bricks and stone also tend to take longer to heat up than other hard surfaces, but they, too, can become too hot to the touch.
PAW PROTECTION PRODUCTS
In some instances you may just need a little more protection for your dog's paws. Maybe you cannot avoid a stretch of asphalt, rough, sharp rocks or maybe to get to the cool wet part of the beach with your doggo, you have to walk through some hot sand.
This is where protective dog boots aren't just for cold weather! They can provide the protection your dog needs under extreme summer weather.
A boot that is highly recommended (and comes in mutliple colors and sizes, is the Secure Dog Boot by My Busy Dog
Walking on rough, man-made surfaces, such as roads and sidewalks can tear up a dog's pads. A highly-recommended product (that I've started using on my Havis) is Pawtection by Natural Dog Company. I prefer the sticks to apply the product to my dogs' pads and toe beans but the product also comes in a tin.
In addition to Pawtection, Natural Dog Company also makes a Paw Soother, which heals, soothes and moisturizes dry rough pads.
If you walk in fields with your dog or on the beach and have to pass through those terrible, burr producing grasses, you've experienced the conundrum of burrs in your dog's pads. What's the problem? Just pull them out! Yes, that's spoken like someone who's never had to pull a few out with a dog in pain and without gloves. Dem dang burrs hurt.
To solve the burr problem, if you've got a little dog carry them through the dunes. if you're walking in fields, if you know there are burr-producing vegetation there, modify where you walk.
But for everyone else, carry a small needle nose pliers. The first time you have to remove a burr quickly, you will appreciate having that little tool along.
OR, put boots (as featured above ) on your doggo as you pass through the nasty, burr infested areas. (Be sure to check your dog's coat, especially his legs and tail, for burrs, too.)
I know, I know, I know.... everyone wants their lawns to look ahmazing but... did you know that pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers used to make lawns look green, inviting and beautiful can be harmful to your dog if he comes in contact with it within 48 hours of application?
Quick Link to more information on Herbicide Poisoning can be find HERE.
Even if your dog doesn't eat grass (I have one that eats like a miniature, grazing cow...) all it would take is a quick lick and the poison or its residue is in their digestive system. Or, if your pupper is like one of my other dogs, he will plop and roll. Rolling in grass gets the toxic chemicals on their coat,s paw pads, faces-- and they can lick it
It's even possible for a dog to inhale toxic fumes given off by lawn treatments or even the treatment itself.
SO WHAT DO YOU DO?
Look for lawn care treatment signs and avoid those yards
Walk early in the morning before the lawn care companies start to treat lawns
DO NOT LET YOUR DOGGO EAT GRASS
Wash paws (and legs and underbelly if they are a low rider) with soap and water
Since I usually have two dogs I'm walking at one time, I don't like to hand carry a water bottle (and I don't really like the neoprene slings as I always manage to clobber myself when I walk... ), I've gone to using a runner's water belt like the Peak Hydration Waist Pack you can find at Nathan Sports.
I couple this with a Forever Friends collapsible water bowl that I can tuck in the waist pack or attach to my leash.
WATER 'EM DOWN
I also like to use a mesh dog harness in the summer like this one from Paws Pet Boutique, as I can wet the harness down with cool water before our walk (and during our walk)!
I've also used a cooling vest like this one from Ruff Wear:
A FINAL WORD ON BODY CLIPPING
My pack of Havanese are are clipped down as they are no longer shown and do not need a show coat. I can vouch that when my dogs were in full coat, they had a harder time regulating their body temperatures (staying cool) and were much hotter in the summer months. Now in the summer months, I make sure my Havis have a very close "summer" clip so they stay cooler and can enjoy swimming.
If you have long-coated or double-coated breed -- and your dog is a pet (not an active working dog) -- should you clip your dog or no?
This is a hotly debated topic. Some people believe that if you clip your dog he will be hotter with a shorter coat and the coat will not grow back like the original full coat once was.
DEBUNKING THE MYTH?
If you would like to hear from a veterinary expert who lives in a very hot climate and has had years of experience (and photos) of coated breeds that once clipped were better able to regulate their body temperatures, and they were able to regrow beautiful full coats, please read Walkerville Veterinary Clinic's article, Can All Dog Breeds Have Summer Haircuts, HERE on just this subject.
ENJOY YOUR SUMMER!
Be safe and have fun with your best friend this summer!