Hot paws in the city - BC SPCA
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Hot paws in the city

July 11, 2022

A warm summer day may seem like the perfect time for a long walk with your pet. However, before you grab your leash and shoes, be sure to check the temperature. A breezy day hovering around 25C may not seem dangerous but imagine if you were walking barefoot on hot sand or pavement! That’s how it feels for your pet on a warm day.

Cats and dogs have sensitive paw pads that become vulnerable in the heat. Surfaces such as pavement, asphalt and artificial grass can become searingly hot causing blisters or burns on their paw pads. Not to mention hot pavement and warm weather can also increase the overall body temperature of your pet and lead to heat stroke.

Before you reach for the leash consider these simple tips:

  • Check the pavement before your walk. Place your hand or bare foot on the pavement for five seconds. If it’s too hot for your skin, then it’s most likely too hot for your pet.
  • Walk during cooler times of the day. Avoid taking walks during the hottest time of the day. Instead, opt for walks in the early morning and late evening when the pavement is cooler.
  • Keep midday walks short. If you’re taking your pet out during the day, be sure to keep walks short. If you have a longer adventure planned, be sure to bring water and take frequent breaks.
  • Refrain from walking on hard surfaces and stick to the grass. Pavement and roads can be tough on your dog’s joints, in addition to being too hot for your dog’s paws. If possible, stick to grass, dirt, or a softer terrain but be aware of uneven surfaces or any other hazards like rocks and holes.
  • Stick to a shady and cool route. You don’t want your dog to become overheated, which is why sticking to cool and shady routes is key. A run along a lake or pond is another great idea since it’s the perfect place for your dog to stop for a dip post-run.

Tips on how to protect your pet’s paws from hot pavement

  • Moisturize their paws. Moisturizing your dog’s feet regularly can help prevent injuries like cuts, cracking, or peeling of the paws, which can make your dog’s paws more susceptible to burns. Be sure to moisturize with a pet-friendly and veterinarian-approved lotion or a paw wax.
  • Use dog shoes or booties. Dog shoes or booties are one of the best ways to protect your dog’s paws from heat and potential injuries — that is, if your dog will wear them. Not all dogs will like to wear dog shoes, and some might even have a hard time walking in them. Be aware of an adjustment period as they get used to wearing them, or you might even have to scrap them if they become too burdensome for your pooch. If your dog doesn’t mind rocking a pair of booties or shoes, buy ones with a rubber sole as they offer the best protection.
  • Peel and stick felt pads. Similar to booties and shoes, these also help protect against potential burns and injuries from hot pavement. They can even reduce the risks of your dog slipping on slick surfaces. Because they’re thin and flexible, they’re a bit easier to put on your pet’s paws than booties and they won’t even feel them. And, yes, they’re easy to remove too.
  • Always check your pet’s paws. A good habit to get into is routinely checking your pet’s paws, especially after a walk, and washing them frequently to help prevent any potential infections.

Pay attention for possible signs of heatstroke

  • If your dog slows down and lags behind you, chances are they’re pooped. Take heed and slow down to their pace, and take a break with shade and water. Or, to be safe, you might want to call it a day and return home.
  • If your dog is warm to touch, drooling, and/or vomiting, those are strong indicators of dehydration and possibly heatstroke. If you’re hot, your dog is too. Provide them immediately with water and let them rest in the shade. If your dog’s symptoms don’t go away, call your veterinarian as it could be a medical emergency.

How to tell if a pet’s paw pads are burned

  • Pet appears to be in pain and showing signs of discomfort. If your is pet holding up a foot, limping, vocalizing, licking or chewing at the feet or is not wanting to walk.
  • Pads are damaged if you notice a change in colour, typically they’ll be darker and will change from pink to red.
  • Pet’s paw pads that are burned will be visibly damaged with blisters, ruptured blisters, and redness, and pieces of pads are missing.

First aid for burned paws

  • Bring your dog inside right away, or to a safe cool place. Carry your pet if necessary.
  • Flush the foot with cold water or use a cold compress.
  • Try not to let your dog lick the injured pad.
  • Consult your veterinarian.

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