How to Keep Your Dog's Paws Safe During a Hot Summer Run

Keeping your dog's paws safe in summer - Dog running on a hiking trail in summer.

Everyone's probably heard that old saying about it being hot enough to fry an egg on the sidewalk, right? Well, think about your dog's poor paws when it's that hot outside. His pads are likely frying just like that egg! Of course, you could forego his runs or even his walks on days that are that hot, but that's not healthy for your dog and you. But how can you start keeping your dog's paws safe during the summer? And what's a concerned pet parent to do when it's too hot to run with a dog?

Keeping your dog's paws safe in summer - Puppy plays with stick in its mouth.

Let's check out these six suggestions for keeping your pet well-exercised without damaging his paws on hot surfaces.


1. Build Up to Walking or Running on Hot Surfaces

If you run with your dog or take long walks every day, her paws are probably pretty well toughened up already. However, if the two of you are just getting started on your outdoor adventures your dog's feet will need time to adjust to her new activity level. The same goes for a dog that's moved from a cooler climate to a hotter one or from a rural area of mostly dirt roads to a concrete jungle.

It takes time to get those paws tough enough to better handle hot surfaces. That's why puppies should never be walked on hard surfaces when the weather is hot. Their tender young paws can't handle it! Walk them on grass or in the shade until their tender tootsies toughen up.

2. Pick the Right Time of Day

Keeping your dog's paws safe during the summer months is also about picking the right time of the day. And, no, high noon (or even 4 PM) on a 90° day isn't the right time! Early morning is the best time to put paws to the ground. The sidewalk or running path has had time to cool off from the scorching heat of the day before. Besides, who doesn't enjoy a nice cool run in the early morning? You know your dog does!

The next best time is during the cool of the evening when the sun is no longer glaring down on those sidewalks from high overhead. They'll still be considerably warmer than they were in the morning but they shouldn't be hot enough to toast your pup's toes.

The absolute worst time of day to take your dog for a run or long walk is between 10 AM and 4 PM. Not only is the pavement at its hottest, but your pooch is also more likely to suffer from heat stroke or sunburn during those hours. The same hot pavement that can burn their paws is heating up their entire body. It can also reflect off the pavement onto sensitive areas that may burn as a result.

Keeping your dog's paws safe in summer - Dog running near the beach in Summer.


3. Test the Pavement Temperature Before Heading Out

A heat gun will give you the most accurate results in keeping your dog's paws safe. However, there's a low-tech method that will work almost as well. Dr. Raelynn Farnsworth recommends laying the back of your hand on the pavement and trying to keep it there for just seven seconds. If you can't take the heat and jerk your hand away before time's up, it's definitely too hot for your poor dog's paws!

Ideally, the temperature of the pavement shouldn't exceed 76° for your dog's comfort. On a 77° day with no wind, an asphalt surface in direct sunlight can reach 125°. Bump the heat up to 86° and that asphalt will be 135°. Add just one more degree and that asphalt will reach a blistering 143°! Oh, and that sidewalk egg we mentioned earlier? It will be fully cooked in five minutes at a relatively modest 131°!

4. Avoid Hard Surfaces Whenever Possible

Asphalt is a definite no-no, but other hard surfaces are almost as bad. That's why you'll want to stick to walking your dog on grass, dirt, or wet sand whenever you can. Not only are these natural paths cooler, but the softer surface is easier on your pet's joints. If they're shaded by trees, so much the better!

5. Add a Layer of Protection

A dog whose paws are in good shape is less susceptible to injuries. Use a moisturizing paw balm on his paws every day to keep them healthy and feeling good. Then a good quality paw wax applied right before you leave the house will provide an added layer of protection against hot or rough surfaces while you're running.

Just make sure to choose a wax that you can use during hot weather or it will simply melt away, leaving your poor pup's paws unprotected. Other options for keeping your dog's paws safe include stick-on felt or silicone paw pads, disposable booties, or teaching your dog to wear doggie boots. Anything that keeps his feet away from direct contact with scorching surfaces is sure to help!

Keeping your dog's paws safe - Beagle running on a meadow in the Summer heat.

6. Prepare for the Heat Before You Leave

Excess heat is as dangerous for dogs as it is for humans. Being knowledgeable and prepared is one of the most loving things you can do for your best friend.

  • Always check the weather forecast (including the heat index) before you head out.
  • Take plenty of water for both of you and something from which your dog can drink easily. A collapsible silicone bowl with a carabiner attached is ideal for helping your dog stay hydrated.
  • Know the warning signs of heat stress in dogs and what to do about it. A microfiber towel and an instant ice pack should fit in a runner's pack and could save your pet's life in a heat emergency. 
  • Make sure you have a plan in case you need to change your route, speed, and distance to keep your pet safe.

Now that you know what (and what not!) to do to start keeping your dog's paws safe during a hot summer run, it's time to get out there and enjoy summer while it lasts. Check out our Dog Blog for more tips on making the best of your outdoor time with your dog. And send us a woof if you have questions about our hands-free leashes — designed specifically for runners and their best friends!

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