A veterinary hospital shared a photograph of the burned paw pads of a very stoic golden Labrador together with a warning for dog owners to be careful of hot pavements as the summer heats up.
Olaf had walked over a mile along a local trail near Spokane, Washington, before his owners realized his pads were burned, according to the Medical Lake Veterinary Hospital in a post on social media.
“Even then he wasn’t whining or limping!” wrote the clinic on Facebook. “He is one tough cookie (and exceptionally sweet cookie).”
According to many vets, like Olaf, some dogs just keep going when their pads are burning, and won’t want to stop a much-loved walk to complain—meaning the onus is on the owners to be vigilant about hot surfaces.
“A good rule of thumb is if the pavement is too hot for your hand, it’s too hot for your dogs’ pads,” wrote the clinic.
The clinic’s photographs show Olaf’s burned paw pads, and later shots of his feet wrapped in blue bandages.
“They didn’t notice he had bloody paw prints for a mile,” said Dr. Heather O’Bannon, a veterinarian at Medical Lake Veterinary Hospital, warning that pads don’t heel fast, according to KXLY.
“Obviously he didn’t want to stop his walk, he didn’t want to let his owners know,” said O’Bannon.
She said that the best solution is to walk dogs in the morning or evening. “Or at least walk them on the grass if they need to go for a walk during the day, but avoid pavement at all costs.”
Sidewalks can be much hotter than the air temperature, reaching over 150 degrees on exceptionally hot days, while the temperature of asphalt can reach even higher.
Pets’ paws can burn after just five minutes of touching a surface at 120 degrees, according to Fulton Homes.
For a surface at 140 degrees, that burn time is reduced to one minute. For surfaces over 150 degrees, blistering and burning can occur rapidly.
“If it’s 100 degrees outside, that is too hot to be walking your dog on the pavement or the sidewalk,” Ross Trumble, a spokesman for Fulton Homes, told Arizona Central.
Some veterinary clinics and shelters in hotter states, such as Arizona, give away shoes for free during the summer months.
Dog shoes offer some protection from the heat in the summer, and also from rough terrain.
Dr. Ian Flowers, a veterinarian with Fulton County Animal Services and Lifeline Animal Project, told 11Alive, “Some dogs will just keep going and then by the time you start noticing them doing something abnormal, it’ll be too late.”
Symptoms of burned paw pads to watch out for include sloughing of the skin, redness, irritation, and blisters, according to Flowers.
“The surface does matter,” he said. “Obviously, your darker pavements are going to heat a lot more than the lighter ones.”
Hot Cars Deadly in 10 Minutes
But while burned pads can take months to heal and leave dogs in great discomfort, the greatest danger in hot temperatures comes from being left in a car.
“Even with the windows down, those temperatures in the car can soar to 120 degrees Fahrenheit or more within minutes,” Dr. Courtney Howard with Banfield Pet Hospital told ABC4. “These conditions can be fatal to a pet within 10 minutes.”