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Protecting Paws from Hot Pavement

Posted by Pia on August 6th, 2012

Asphalt maybe should be called asp-hot! Did you know when the air temperature is outside is measured at 77 degrees, asphalt in the sun has been measured at 125 degrees, and jump up to 86 or 87 degrees outside, and asphalt can sizzle your skin (or your pet’s paws) at 135 to 143 degrees… and egg can fry in 5 minutes at 131 degrees! Our friend Dr. Pia Salk brought these mind-scorching numbers to our attention in a recent article on her Blog at MarthaStewart.com. Pia points out that while most of us have witnessed or experienced the driveway dance of a human in bare feet, we don’t often think of the effect that burning hot surface has on the bare four paws of our companion animals out for a stroll. She offers up some good advice for judging how safe the ground temperature is for Fido’s feet, which isn’t as simple as it may seem…

As a basic ‘rule of paw’ if the pavement feels too hot for your barefoot, it is too hot for Fido’s. Do this test: press  your own bare hands or feet on sunny pavement for at least 7-8 seconds to assess heat level. If it is uncomfortable for you, then it is too hot for your dog. Abort ‘mission dog walk’ and devise another plan for the day’s exercise or method of travel.

Remember that the air temperature is NOT an accurate reflection of ground temperature at all! Asphalt and other ground surfaces retain heat and this temperature rises exponentially as heat and sun exposure continues. See the above image for temperature correlations.

Furthermore, the time of day is very relevant! Asphalt soaks up the heat all day and can only cool down at a certain rate and only when the sun retreats- so pavement that was deemed safe for a walk at 9 am may differ greatly at high noon and into the early evening.

Summer is meant to be fun and carefree for humans and fur kids alike. And as is also the case with human kids, our animal companions need us adults to stay informed and use good judgement to keep them safe. After all, splashing in the pool, digging in the sand and rolling in the grass is a lot to cover in one day. Having to also worry about paw safety is just too much to expect of anyone with such a busy summer schedule.

Stay safe, so everyone can enjoy what summer has to offer.

In kinship,
Dr. Pia Salk

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