Berks County PA dog and man practicing paw pet safety

For pet owners and nature lovers, enjoying summer’s splendor with your pet is a no-brainer. Most of us understand the risks associated with heat – never leave your pet in a parked car, make sure they have access to water and shade, and stop for lots of breaks while outdoors are all important rules of thumb. However, many pet owners don’t realize the risks that hot weather poses to their pet’s paws.

Although your pet’s four paws take them everywhere they need to go, sans shoes, the pads are far more delicate than most pet owners realize. Keeping summer paw safety in mind is a must for your pet’s comfort and health.

Paw Dangers

Summer in Pennsylvania is hot and humid, and both manmade and natural surfaces can quickly heat up to dangerous temperatures. Hot, abrasive surfaces can do a number on pet paws, causing burns and other injuries. Whether you’re on a walk or hike, playing at the lake, or just hanging out in the backyard, be aware of the following risks to your pet’s paws:

  • Concrete
  • Asphalt
  • Sand
  • Packed dirt
  • Decks 
  • Gravel 

Hot surfaces aren’t the only things pet owners need to keep in mind when it comes to paw safety. Be on the lookout for other potential causes of injury, such as broken glass, twigs, foxtails, fishing lures, or sharp rocks.

Warning Signs

It’s easy to miss the early signs of a paw burn or injury. Always pay attention to your pet while outdoors, and stop to investigate if you notice any of the following symptoms of paw pain:

  • Limping
  • Reluctance to walk
  • Suddenly pulling at the leash to get to the shade or off the road
  • Licking or chewing at the paw pads
  • Burns, blisters, sores, or inflammation in the paw pads
  • Paw pads that have changed color/become darker

In some cases, paw pad burns can be serious second or third-degree burns. These should be treated by a veterinarian immediately to prevent shock, dehydration, or infection.

Summer Paw Safety

Summer paw safety is an absolute essential when it comes to spending time outdoors with your pet. A little precaution goes a long way!

  • Before walking your pet, place your palm down on the ground. If it’s too hot for your hand, it’s too hot for your pet’s paws. 
  • Walk your dog in the early morning hours, before surfaces get too hot. Evening also works as long as the ground has cooled off.
  • Stick to shady or grassy surfaces whenever possible.
  • If you do a lot of walking or hiking, consider purchasing protective booties or shoes for your dog. With patience (and lots of praise and treats), many dogs will learn to accept booties.
  • Inspect the pads each time your pet comes in from outside, and wipe clean with a damp towel.
  • Soothing balms or moisturizers made specifically for paw pads can help to prevent dryness and cracking.

With the right approach, you and your pet can safely enjoy all that summer has to offer! Please don’t hesitate to contact the team at Conrad Weiser Animal Hospital for more information.