I was working a tent at an event one day. A woman came along and stopped to talk with an acquaintance in front of our tent. It was summer, quite warm, and we were set up on asphalt. As their conversation continued I noticed that the senior Boxer the woman had on a leash was “dancing” a bit. I waved to get the woman’s attention and asked if she’d like to move over so she and her dog could cool her feet in the shade of our tent.
“Yeah,” I thought, “YOU’RE fine but your dog is suffering.”
I got a bowl and broke out a bottle of water. With the water in the bowl I set it in the shade and asked the woman if she’d let her dog come over to get a drink.
She gave me an exasperated look and said, “I’ll be leaving in just a minute.” but did let out her retractable leash so the Boxer could sidle over to get a drink and cool her feet.
Their conversation dragged on and on, so I stooped there and petted the dog to keep her in the shade.
Finally the woman said to her friend, “Well, I’ve GOT to go.” She shot me a hostile look and called her dog to follow as she left the vicinity.
As they walked away I really hoped she was headed for her car to take that poor Boxer home.
More Common Than You Think
In the summer sun, hard surfaces like concrete and asphalt get hot really fast. Humans don’t notice it because we almost always wear shoes. But your dog’s feet have only minimal protection from this blistering heat.
Heat from asphalt can cause the pads of your dog’s feet to blister and peel. Aside from being painful, this opens the door to infection.
Avoid Torturing Your Dog
You can test the surfaces you will walk on by placing the back of your hand on the surface and hold it there. If you can comfortably hold it there for at least five seconds, your dog should be okay with it too. If it’s too hot, consider alternatives.
Delay your walk
If you can wait and go out when it’s cooler, you will both be more comfortable.
Use protection for feet
There are salves that can be applied to help protect your dog’s feet for short periods. These tend to be less aggravating for a dog than booties, but the boots are far more effective (if designed for use in heat).
Plan a safe path
Plan your walk to avoid asphalt as much as possible. Concrete is a bit cooler, and grass is great! Stay to the more comfortable surfaces to avoid harming your dog.
Aside from being aware of your dog’s feet, be sure you take a long a small bowl and water for your dog. There are some devices that combine a bowl and bottle in one unit that can hang from a belt loop.
Be sure you find shade and rest periodically. Remember that your four-footed-buddy is wearing a fur coat. Make sure you know and watch for signs of heat stroke in your dog.
Taking along a large umbrella or parasol will provide shade for both of you, even if you only open it when needed.
Of course, if you MUST go out in the heat of the day, and you MUST take your dog with you, and you CANNOT take a safe route, you can always…