Taking the dog out for a walk during summer is certainly very nice, but there are dangers that you might not think about.
Walking is a good activity, but walking on asphalt can be harmful to the dog!
According to the study by James J. Berens, MD – “Thermal Contact Burns From Streets and Highways” – asphalt heats up a lot in the sun during the hottest hours of the day. We don’t realise that since we wear shoes, walking around without thinking too much about the surfaces we walk on. Shoes are made specifically for this! On the other hand, during summer many dogs are put to the test by the carelessness of the person walking with them, and the digital and metacarpal pads – their only 4 support areas on the ground – become burned. Let’s imagine we have a first- or second-degree sunburn on the soles of our feet… it would be really difficult to heal and we would treat it straight away. The first thing to do is to study the facts: from the data arising from the study by James J. Berens, if the air temperature is around 25°C, the asphalt temperature is about 50°C. As the air temperature rises, the asphalt temperature increases almost exponentially. When we put our hand on the asphalt for 5 seconds, pressing hard, we will be well aware of what the dog will feel under its four paws.
The solution: some simple rules to keep in mind during walks with the dog so you can enjoy summer walks in complete serenity!
What can we do?
- Remember to avoid walking during the hottest hours of the day. It may seem obvious, but a lot of people don’t know it. The asphalt is red-hot during these hours. This is the moment when on several occasions I happened to see bicycles fall over, because the asphalt under the frame had softened, letting the frame slip on to the street. If we walked barefoot on the road, we’d risk burns. The dog does too. Let us also remember that the hottest hours in summer are also dangerous for heat strokes and sunstroke caused by the direct exposure of the sun’s rays on the head. Without a hat it can happen to us too! Go out during the early hours of the morning until mid-morning and in the evening, when there is no more direct sunlight on the asphalt.
- Make the dog walk on grass, dirt tracks or light tiles. Even in the hottest hours, the grass remains cooler than asphalt. If we are walking on a pedestrian or cycle pedestrian path, for example, remember to keep the dog on the side where it can walk on grass or earth or dirt road or light tiles. Carefully choose the route before going out, so that the time spent on the asphalt is minimised.
- Choose the side of the road in the shade whenever you can do so. A client of mine in Rome has become good at going from one side of the road to the other to keep in the shaded areas. Choose the streets that have tall houses both on the right and on the left. In a city like Rome it is very easy, but in seaside towns, if we avoid the promenade, the streets in the centre often have a shaded side or arcades sheltered from the sun’s rays (as well as rain).
- Take breaks in green areas, in the shade of a tree and on the lawn. In summer, stopping at every park we find is a “must”! Look for fresh water for yourselves and for your dog, sheltered by trees. The grass under the trees is very cool, the dog will probably lie on the ground to fully enjoy it. Check the temperature with your hand on the dog’s coat. Wetting his head with water will increase the refreshing and relaxing effect.
- Check if pads are healthy (digital pads) on a daily basis. If you have followed all the advice I have mentioned above, you will probably have no problems and will have walked safely during the summer. But a digital pad check when back home is always a good and useful practice. Indeed, in addition to verifying that there is no sunburn, we can see if the pads are intact (from cuts or abrasions as a result of the friction of the digital pads on the ground) and pebbles wedged between the pads are cleaned out, no chewing gum attached to the hair and that there are no dreaded foxtails under the paws, in the ears, in the nose and anywhere else in the body. Foxtails should always be removed from the hair before they can stick in the skin and cause serious damage to the dog.
- In case of sunburn, don´t “do it yourself”, but contact your trusted veterinarian. Let the vet make the diagnosis and give us the best treatment to follow. Internet searches and the nearby dog expert don´t have complex and complete expertise on medical matters. This also applies to abrasions, cuts, or food, if you find them stuck in the skin. Don´t “do it yourself” if you want to make your dog heal as soon as possible and continue to enjoy a safe, serene summer and holiday with him.
In summer, wanting to avoid the hottest hours of the day, you risk walking less. With Kippy Vita, I ensure that my dog always does the movement he needs to stay fit, controlling him directly from my smartphone. For this reason, I set a goal (in minutes) on the Kippy Vita application on the function “Walk”, organising walks in order to always achieve my goal. In this way, I can enjoy the day without thinking about times and calculations: Kippy takes care of it for me! Daniela Cardillo
Dr. Daniela Cardillo, graduate in Breed Dog Breeding Techniques and Dog Education And part of the international team of Victoria Stilwell, star of the television series “Enough! Me or the dog.” Greendogs brand owner www.greendogs.it
© 2017 Copyright Daniela Cardillo
Image copyright Daniela Cardillo © 2017 www.greendogs.it