Shelter on the Hill: A Humane Society

President's Message

Hot Paws!

One hot summer day in Chicago in the 1940’s when I was just a wee lass we fried an egg on the sidewalk in front of 5419 Fairfield Avenue in Chicago. Thirty years later in the midst Time Magazine’s dire predictions of the “New Ice Age “ and that we would all be dead in our beds of frostbite by Y2K, my neighbor’s children did a summer science experiment and fried an egg on the sidewalk at 1042 Windsor street in San Jose. The summer after we survived the supposed collapse of computers worldwide unable to make the transition from 1999 to 2000, we celebrated by frying an egg on my patio in Sunnyvale. And now it’s 20 years later and summers haven’t changed - they still get hot enough to fry an egg on the sidewalk - and also to fry your dog’s paws.

The problem is the asphalt temperature and the outdoor temperature are two very different things. When the air temperature is 77 degrees asphalt in the sun is 125 degrees. When the air temperature is 86 degrees the asphalt temperature is 135 degrees. Since you can fry an egg at 131 degrees just imagine how your dog feels as you drag him along to the farmers market or an outdoor festival being held on asphalt.

Fortunately there’s a couple of easy ways to tell if the pavement is too hot for your pups bare paws - the most direct way is walking on it in your own bare feet. Dogs paw skin is not any thicker than the skin on your own feet. Or you can place the back of your hand against the pavement and hold it there for 7-10 seconds …. if it’s too uncomfortable for you to leave your skin there, then you shouldn’t make your dog do it.

Also, think about the time of day. It takes hours for the pavement to cool off after the outdoor temperature goes down. Asphalt soaks up the heat all day and can only cool down after sunset so pavement that was deemed safe for a walk at 9 am may still be too hot in late afternoon. Much better to head to your outdoor event in the morning when the pavement is cool.

As a basic ‘rule of paw’- if the surface is too uncomfortable for your own bare hands or feet for at least 7-8 seconds then could seriously injure your dogs’ paws.

And always remember if you want to take an outing with your dog in the summer think water! It’s good for drinking and it’s also good for cooling hot tootsies, both yours and your dogs!

Candace Huskey - President