Too Hot to Trot!

Is your dog usually happy to be on the go, but now acting stubborn as you drag him through the local farmer’s market? Ever heard the expression, “It is hot enough to fry an egg on the sidewalk”? Well, this time of year, it could be true! Though sidewalks are a few degrees cooler than asphalt or black top, they can still cause pain and discomfort to a pet walking on them. And even when it’s only 80°F outside, sun-exposed asphalt can rise to 125°F. At this temperature, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association, asphalt is hot enough to cause skin destruction with only about 60 seconds of contact. To put that into perspective, an egg can fry in five minutes at 131°F!

My first thought was that our pets have thick, tough pads, right? True, like calluses on human hands, our pets’ thick pads can offer a little protection, but the thresholds are estimated at only about 10°F higher than our hands can handle.

Let’s take a look at how hot it needs to be outside to create unsafe walking surfaces:

Air TemperatureAsphalt Temperature
80°F125°F
86°F135°F
87°F143°F

Since most of us don’t walk around with an infrared thermometer taking surface temperatures, the best way for us to test pavement temperature is with our bare hand or bare foot. Try testing the surface by holding your bare hand or foot on it. Can you hold it there comfortably for more than 10 seconds? If not, you may want to postpone taking your pet outside until it cools off.

Here are a few tips for keeping feet happy:

  • On hot days, plan on taking your dog for walks before 11 a.m. and after 6 p.m.
  • Keep your pets in shaded grass as much as possible. Even grassy areas in direct sunlight can be uncomfortably hot.
  • Purchase pet shoes, pet socks or adhesive pads that cover your pet’s paws.
  • Moisturize pads to keep them more pliable. Use pet wax or ointments such as Musher’s Secret.
  • Keep cats inside. Not only is the asphalt too hot for them, but they also may try jumping onto other hot surfaces, such as the scorching hot metal hood of your car.
  • Walking dogs often on (cool) cement can help strengthen the callouses on their pads, build protection for extreme temperatures and prevent injuries such as cuts.

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