The old saying goes that in order to truly know someone, you have to walk a mile in their shoes. That’s not really possible when it comes to our four-legged friends, who tend to go barefoot, but – at the very least – we can learn about their feet! With hot weather being a standard part of living in San Diego and Southern California, we sometimes forget the effects of heat on our beloved pet’s feet. Temperatures in San Diego during the summer can reach above 85 degrees, heating up roads and the very asphalt that we walk our pets on. As human beings, we have the luxury of wearing sandals or shoes during extreme summer weather but your pet unfortunately is at the mercy of of you, their owner, in deciding where and when to be walked.

Dog and Cat paw pads are made up of hairless, pigmented skin  by a thick grouping of fat and tissue. The surface texture can differ based on an animal’s environment. They’re often tough in dogs who are exposed to rough surfaces, and more smooth and sensitive in cats and dogs who do not walk much or who are always on smooth, soft surfaces.

In the summer, it is especially important to use caution if your dog is running on hot rocks or asphalt as the surface can get exceedingly hot and result in blisters on their paws. The outer layer of the pad can slough off, leaving a sensitive layer of fresh skin that may take up to several days or weeks to properly heal. It is advised to use caution with long periods of exercise on these surfaces. In fact, owners should   their dogs’ feet and pads, including the interdigital webbing, for signs of injury following exercise during hot summer weather.

Signs of burned pads:

– limping or refusing to walk

– licking or chewing at the feet

– pads darker in color

– missing part of foot pad

– blisters or redness

Preventative Measures

Pet owners can take preventative measures to keep their dog safe from paw pad burns. Take a towel along during walks in case there is no grass or shaded area for your dog, or invest in a set of doggie boots or socks, which are designed to keep your pet’s paws and foot pads safe.

Dog owners should always consider the health and safety of their dogs each time they take them for a walk. Watch out for paw pad injuries, such as burns, by keeping your dog off hot surfaces. Watch for tell-tale signs of burns and take your dog to the vet if you suspect your dog has sustained paw pad injuries.