Heat in Metro Detroit: Read this before walking your dog today

What to know about threshold for pain on dog’s feet

(Richard Vogel, Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

DETROIT – Most everybody loves walking their dog. 

But when the weather gets hot, you need to be aware that hot pavement can injure your furry friend. 

According to Marcia Breithaupt at Liberty Home and Pet Services in Naples, Fla., here are the thresholds for pain and injury on a dog’s foot pads:

  • 120°F: The initial pain threshold for direct skin contact without permanent damage.
  • 140°F: Burns, permanent damage, and scarring appear after one minute contact
  • 150°F: Rapid burns and blistering.

Marcia did a research project about ten years ago that really helps those who like to walk their dogs. She measured the temperature on various surfaces between 1 and 4 p.m. on a hot south Florida day. 

Here’s her chart with what she found out:

HOURLY TEMPERATURE STUDY, NAPLES, FLORIDA JUNE 3, 2010 (values in degrees F) (http://www.lhaps.com/)

As you can see, by mid-afternoon, cement, red brick and asphalt rose above the threshold for pain on a dog’s feet, and even above the threshold for injury on the darker surfaces. Since our temperature today will be a little cooler and the sun’s rays today here in southeast Michigan will be lower than what it was on the day this study was done, our pavement today won’t be quite as hot as in this chart. However, I suspect that the red brick or blacktop surfaces could get hot enough to cause your dog some pain. 

Here’s a suggestion: Instead walking your dog on the pavement, walk him or her on the grass next to the paved surface. Furthermore, since it’ll be so hot and humid, your dog, like you and me, needs to stay hydrated -- don’t forgot to have a source of cool water available (even if you dog is just hanging out in the yard).

Don’t let the heat dissuade you from taking the dog (and yourself) out for a little exercise. Just be smart about it!

By the way, Marcia also measured the temperature of a light grey leather seat in a car left out in the sun. The leather had a temperature of 152 degrees! Obviously, that is dangerously hot for your dog, so have them sit on a towel or blanket if you need to take them somewhere in the car. Better yet, let the air conditioning run a bit to cool things off before getting in the car.

If you want to read Marcia’s entire report, you can see it here.

About the Author:

Local 4 meteorologist Paul Gross was born in Detroit and has spent his entire life and career right here in southeast Michigan. Paul has researched, written and produced eight half-hour documentaries for WDIV, as well as many science, historical and environmental stories.