Dog-gone it. . . That ­pavement gets hot

On hot days, check pavement with your hand to see if it might be too hot for your pet.

Micki McCabeCONTRA COSTA COUNTY, CA (July 2, 2024) — Many pet owners enjoy taking their dogs to warm-weather events like festivals, concerts and Fourth of July parades. But please keep in mind that even with milder air temperatures, the ground may be just too hot for canine tootsies.

One way you can be sure it isn’t too hot for your pup is to frequently feel the pavement with your hand. If it is too warm for your bare hand, it definitely is too warm for your dog’s bare paws. A rule of thumb is if the air temperature is 77 degrees, asphalt in the direct sun can be 125 degrees. If it is 87 degrees outside, the ground can get to 143 degrees, and so forth.

Even on a mild day, it is good to bring a travel water bowl for your pup to make sure they are staying hydrated.

Of course, there are other heat-related concerns with dogs. Dogs mainly cool down their bodies by panting or seeking cool places to hang out, since they essentially have no way to sweat other than on the bottoms of their feet. (Explains a lot about stinky dog feet, doesn’t it?)


Dog-gone it. . .That ­pavement gets hot
Not only can extremely hot temperatures cause discomfort, walking on concrete and asphalt can burn your pet’s paws.

Short-nosed breeds like Frenchies and other bulldogs, pugs, Boston terriers, Pekingese and the like will overheat more quickly than other dogs because they cannot efficiently cool down by panting. Short noses and narrow airways mean minimal airflow.

There is also a medical condition called laryngeal paralysis that happens almost exclusively in older, larger dogs. It prevents efficient panting because the larynx cannot open and close normally with each breath. The loud panting you hear is airflow trying to traverse a poorly opening larynx, which can cause local friction and lead to swelling and obstruction of the airway.

This can then result in an emergency situation of hypoxia (not enough oxygen delivery to the lungs) and overheating very quickly, even with only mild heat.

Remember, never leave your pet in a closed car in the sun unless you can temperature control your car. The temperature outside the car can be mild, but the interior will heat up very quickly. One study showed that as little as 70 degrees outside temperature can heat to 89 degrees within 10 minutes and up to 104 after a half an hour. On a 90-degree day, that translates to 114 degrees in 10 minutes and 124 degrees in 30.

Body language

Other things to consider include noise and interactions with strangers, human and canine alike. Just because you like chatting with people at festivals, your dog may not appreciate the social situation. It is a great way to learn canine body language to assess if they are enjoying the festival scene as much as you are. Sometimes it is better to leave your dog home and take them for a nice cool hike later.

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Micki McCabe

Micki McCabe, DVM, DACVIM, FAAVA, is a long-time Clayton resident. The recently retired local veterinarian has an interest in internal and integrative medicine.