Hot pavements

On hot sunny days asphalt, tarmac and pavements can become too hot for your dog’s paws, causing pain and burns, so at what temperature can you take your dog for a walk, how can you tell if the ground is too hot and what can you do to protect your dog’s paws from the heat?

Can pavements be too hot for dogs to walk on?

Yes, even on warm days, in certain conditions, pavements can become hot enough to cause pain, discomfort and even burn your dog’s paws. Although you may think your dog’s paw pads are quite tough, it’s important to remember that they are still made of skin and can be just as sensitive as the bottom of your feet.

Why do pavements heat up?

On sunny days, pavements can often be deceptively hot and will usually be much warmer than the air outside. Dark and dense pavements easily absorb heat from the sun and are good at keeping hold of it and releasing it slowly. Natural surfaces, including grass, tend to be much cooler, as plants release water to help cool themselves down.

How hot is too hot for dogs?

From just looking at the weather outside, or even feeling the air on your skin, it’s difficult to know how hot the pavement might be. The temperature of a pavement can be influenced by different factors, including:
  • Whether it’s in direct sunlight
  • How windy it is
  • Humidity

How do I know if the pavement is too hot for my dog?

The best way to tell if a pavement is too hot for your dog to walk on is to place the back of your hand on the pavement for seven seconds. If it’s too painful for your hand, then it’s too painful for your dog’s paws.

How do I know if my dog has been burnt?

When walking on a hot day, if you notice that your dog is limping, looking uncomfortable or whimpering, then look at the bottom of their paws and check the temperature of the pavement with the back of your hand. If your dog’s paws look red, swollen or blistered then it’s important that you quickly take them off the hot pavement and contact your vet for advice as soon as possible.

What do I do if my dog’s paws have been burnt on the pavement?

Putting your dog’s paws under cool, gently running water can help ease their pain, but if your dog’s paws are burnt from hot pavements then always speak to your vet for advice.

What to do on hot days and how to protect your dog’s paws?

On hot days try to:
  • Use the seven second rule to test the heat of a pavement and see if it’s safe for your dog to walk on
  • Try going for walks on cooler grass
  • Walk your dog in the early morning or evening
  • Avoid walking in the midday sun
Walking your dog at cooler times of the day in the summer will help to reduce your dog’s risk of burning their paws, but it also reduces their risk of developing heatstroke.

Think your dog may be affected?

If you're worried about your dog's health, always contact your vet immediately.

We are not a veterinary organisation and so we can't give veterinary advice, but if you're worried about any of the issues raised in this article, please contact your local vet practice for further information.

Find a vet near you

If you're looking for a vet practice near you, why not visit the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons' Find a vet page.