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Don’t make your dog do the hot cement quickstep!

by Therese on August 19, 2011

in Dog walking, Dogs, Pet Health

Cement and blacktop can be dangerously hot for dogs feetThe other day I saw a guy walking his dogs at about 2 in the afternoon. They walked across the street, right in front of me as I waited for the light to turn green. They were going from a cement sidewalk, onto a blacktop street, and back onto the cement sidewalk. Oblivious to his dogs’ pain, the guy just walked on as his dogs did a quickstep type of walk. They were so obviously in pain from walking on the hot cement and blacktop. Eventually one of the dogs decided to walk in the grass and then the other followed suit.

How likely are you to walk around outside barefooted on a very hot summer day? Probably not too likely. Yet dog owners, like the guy above, make their dogs do it all the time. I don’t think the guy I saw is a cruel person. I just think he’s like a lot of other people who don’t think about it. After all, we wear shoes and just don’t feel the heat that much. But the truth is, even though the pads of a dog’s feet look like they may be tough enough to handle anything, they’re not. They can definitely feel the heat on their feet! It hurts and can cause severe pain, blistering, and infection.

Recently Stormee Greenberg of Ruff’n It, Pet Nanny posted a comment, about walking dogs on hot pavement, on the PetsitUSA Facebook page. I decided to do what she did, and find out how hot the ground was throughout the day. So, I used a small heat gun to take the temperature of three different places at my house:

  • Cement driveway in the shade
  • Cement driveawy in the sun
  • Blacktop street

I knew it would be hot, but seeing the numbers was disturbing when I thought about how many dogs are forced to walk on surfaces this hot and hotter. Here are the results.

6 am
79 Degree air temperature
84 – Cement
94 – Blacktop

9 am
85 Degree air temperature
92  – Cement/shade
105 – Cement/sun
110 – Blacktop

94 Degree air temperature
106 – Cement/shade
135 – Cement/sun
146 – Blacktop

2 pm
99 Degree air temperature
107 – Cement/shade
151 – Cement/sun
161 – Blacktop
158 – Inside parked car

102 Degree air temperature
126 – Cement/shade
154 – Cement/sun
165 – Blacktop
164 – Inside parked car

102 Degree air temperature
126 – Cement/shade
144 – Cement/sun
146 – Blacktop

97 Degree air temperature
119 – Cement
121 – Blacktop

93 Degree air temperature
98 – Cement
106 – Blacktop

The next time you take your dog out for a walk, please think about the hot surface you’re asking him to walk on. If it’s too hot for you to walk barefooted, it probably is for your dog too. Try to walk when it’s likely to be cooler, early morning or late in the evening. If you have to walk your dog in the heat though, please keep him in the grass, or some dirt, where it won’t be as hot as the cement or blacktop. Although I didn’t record it on the chart, I did take some readings for the dirt in my yard a few times and it wasn’t as hot as the cement or blacktop.

One thing to keep in mind if you live in an area that’s been hit hard with the drought, is that much of the grass is dying. When this happens, it gets very brittle and needle-like. Those little grassy needles can get stuck your dog’s paws, so be sure to check his feet when you’re done walking.