3 Tips to Keep Your Dog’s Toes Cool this Summer

The summer temps are on the way (forecast for the upcoming week are high 60s, into 70s with a peak in the 80s on Wednesday & Thursday). Which means we need to be proactive about keeping those dog toes and the dogs who own them cool! 

3 tips for keeping your dog’s toes cool on these coming dog days of summer:

(Fyi “dog days of summer” comes from when the star Sirius – the brightest star in the constellation Canis Major – rises alongside the sun in late July. The Romans believed Sirius added to the heat of the sun and when the “dog star” was around the days would be hot. Hence the coining of “dog days of summer”!)

1. Avoid asphalt!

When air temps rise in the summer, the surface temps of asphalt and concrete also rise! Which means your pup will be prone to severely sore pads of their feet, if not blisters and burns! Ouchy!

Here’s an idea of what the asphalt temperature would be on a hot day:
– air temp at 77˚ F = asphalt temp at 125˚ F
– air temp at 86˚ F = asphalt temp at 132˚ F
– air temp at 95˚ F = asphalt temp at 149˚ F
(Skin destruction can occur in 60 seconds at 125 degrees!!!)

And it’s not only asphalt that can burn your dog’s toes – concrete can easily tip beyond  100˚ F on hotter days as can brick. Sand and dirt can be a bit cooler than asphalt but can also get super toasty under toes (we’ve all been at the beach with a “hot hot hot” mantra as we scurry to the water’s edge). Grass stays the coolest, though full baking in the sun grass will be warmer than in the shade grass. 

Not sure if the surface is too hot? Place the backside of your hand on the surface. If you can keep it there for 7 seconds without getting scorched it will be ok. If you only get to a few seconds before feeling the burn, then it’s WAY TOO hot for your pup to walk on. 

On days that are 70˚ F and hotter, its best to avoid asphalt, concrete and brick especially in the middle of the day and even into the evening. Dirt, sand and grass are the best bet, though if they’ve been baking in the hot sun they may be on the too toasty side too!

2. Walk when it’s cool

From the time the sun rises to when it sets, it begins to warm the surfaces of the world. And being a constant heat source, surfaces gain and retain the heat until the sun wanes from the sky. Which means when temps pass the 70s during the summer it is best aim for walks and playtime when the day is at it’s coolest – morning and in the evening after the sun has set. 

Mornings will grant you the coolest surfaces and you may be able to enjoy the cooler surfaces for the first hour or two the sun is up. As the day heads into a later morning the temp will increase and continue increasing until the sun begins to head towards the horizon – roughly 2 hours before sunset. Air temps will drop, but surface temps will take a bit to chill from retaining heat from the day. 

Do the hand test to gauge when it’s best to walk in the evenings, it may be much later than you think! If you end up walking in evening after it’s dark out, make sure to have reflective or glowing gear for safety. 

Check out these LED collars for nighttime strolls. Or snag a reflective leash. (The links are affiliate links fyi). 

3. Break out the pool or head to the beach!

What better way to keep cool on hot days that with a dip in a body of water?

Snag a hard plastic kiddie pool (or opt for a dog friendly version that can be folded up for storage), fill it up and invite your dog in for tons of splashes and watery playtime. If your pup isn’t sure about the contained puddle of water, time to do some training! Break out the treats, reward for one foot, two foot, three foot, all four! Once your dog realizes the water isn’t all that bad, invite them to pounce on toys or balls or to splash around.  (Or opt for a sprinkler instead of a pool for a two for one benefit – your dog stays cool in the spray of the sprinkler and your grass gets a good watering too!)

Check the water in the pool frequently and replace once it starts to get muddy, gunky, full or leaves or scum. If it looks yucky, you won’t want your dog to drink or lounge in it. Dump and refresh for more watery summer fun!

Or pack up the beach towels, sunscreen and your dog and head to the beach! Tons of fun can be had running and rolling through the sand, bounding through and chasing the waves, retrieving toys from the water and so much more at the beach!  Remember the sand might be hot to your dog’s feet so you may need to carry or create a path from towels so they don’t burn their tootsies before hitting the water. 

Things to consider for a beach trip:

  • Check with your vet if your dog needs the Leptospirosis vaccine (or if they already have it). Leptospirosis is a gnarly bacteria that can make dogs super sick. It can be found in slow moving & stagnant water and comes from infected urine, which gets in the water. Dogs classically become infected when they drink infected water. Caught early on it can be treated with antibiotics, though there is risk that your dog can have kidney or liver disease. 

  • Follow the rules of the beach – stay in the areas designated for dogs and keep your dog from causing a ruckus (zoomies through sandcastles!) so everyone can enjoy the beach. Make sure you have poo bags and snag that shit asap!

  • Consider a lifejacket or long line for your pup. A lifejacket is great for all types of swimmers and will help them stay floating if they tire out or overcome by waves. A long line attaches to your dog with the end in your hands or within close reach. It allows you to reel in your dog if they start to swim out too far or you think they need a break. 
  • Bring ample towels! Depending on the size of your dog your may need a couple to get excess water off for the ride home, along with a set to line your car seats for the ride home. Roll down the windows for an air dried pup on the way home. You will want to do a rinse via the hose or in the bath when you get home to remove any sand, lake water or lake things from your dog’s fur. 

Huzzah! 3 awesome ways to keep your dog’s toes cool as the spring heads into the dog days of summer!