Walking Your Dog Could Be Dangerous This Weekend
If I feel like I'm about to keel over in the heat while on the greenbelt, how is Fido handling the heat?
When you're someone whose body struggles with heat related illnesses, it's amazing how much of a difference 10º can make between you feeling awesome and taking you out of commission for rest of the day. I'm on that struggle bus with my marathon training right now for that very reason. My office hours don't give me the option to get out before it gets hot, so you'll usually find me dying somewhere along the Greenbelt around 4 p.m. when it's over 90º. That's why I try to stick to the Bethine Church River Trail when I can. It's significantly cooler on the dirt path, under trees lining the Boise River vs the asphalt on unshaded sections on the Greenbelt.
As the air temperatures soar, so does the temperature of the asphalt. It's something you may not think about while you're out for a run or walk because, well...you have shoes on that are protecting the soles of your feet. But if Fido's out for a walk with you? He's not quite as lucky. Hot asphalt can actually burn the pads of your dog's paws and in some extreme cases lead to blistering. When you see the following data from the Journal of American Medicine Association, you'll understand why.
According to Petsmart, some easy ways to tell if your dog is in discomfort from burnt paws are limping, trying to avoid walking, licking/chewing feet, paw pads that are darker than normal, visible damage or blistering. Prevention is key to keeping doggie's feet safe, so try to avoid walking on sidewalks or un-shaded sections Greenbelt (like our by Warm Springs Golf Course or between the Shakespeare Festival and Lucky Peak) during the hottest parts of the afternoon. If you want to help build up calluses on your dog's paw pads to help thicken the skin to make them less prone to asphalt burns, the pet store suggests walking the dogs on pavement when the weather is cooler (usually early in the morning.) If your pup starts to exhibit signs of discomfort because of the heat during a walk, move them into the grass which is always cooler than asphalt.
If you can see that your dog did develop burns from hot asphalt, take them to a vet! They'll be the ones to confirm that's what it is and may send you home with some antibiotics if they've become infected.
By the way, a good way to test if the pavement is too hot is to place the back of your hand on it. If you can't keep your hand there for seven seconds, it's too hot for puppy.