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JoAnna Lou
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Protecting Paws in the Heat
Sizzling pavement or sand can burn pads

At the moment New York is in the middle of a miserable heat wave. With humid temperatures soaring into the high 90's, I've been limiting the dogs' outside time to quick bathroom breaks in the backyard. However, when it came time to go to agility class on Wednesday, Scuttle took one step onto our driveway and jumped back onto the grass. Horrified, I touched the pavement and it was sizzling hot.  It's easy to forget about protecting paw pads since we wear shoes and aren't aware of the ground temperature.

Urban dogs are better prepared to deal with hot pavement, since their paw pads have been toughened by walking on the rough city streets. But during a heat wave, even the most hardened paws must be monitored. I was surprised to learn that swimming can soften a dog's pads and make them susceptible to burning on surfaces that they'd be normally okay on.  
 
In general it's a good idea to avoid walking your pups on pavement, metal surfaces, or sand during extremely hot weather. But that's not always possible. Look out for signs of burned pads, which include limping, refusing to walk, blisters or redness, loose flaps of skin, changes in pad color, and licking or chewing at the feet.
 
If your dog's pads are sensitive, carry them over hot surfaces or have them wear booties to protect their feet. For minor burns, you can clean the pads and cover their paw with a loose bandage. For more serious burns, get your pup to the vet immediately.
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JoAnna Lou is a New York City-based researcher, writer and agility enthusiast.

Photo by garann/Flickr.

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