Three dogs on leashes standing on pavement with sun setting in background

Protect Your Dog's Paws This Summer: Tips to Prevent and Treat Paw Burns

by

Summer and its dog days are back again! While we enjoy the warm weather and sunshine with our barking besties, it's important to remember that hot walking surfaces can be really tough on their paws.

Paw burns can be sneaky and appear surprisingly fast. With temperatures rising, that concrete or asphalt can practically turn into a baking surface, so we need to be extra careful when we take our pups out for a stroll.

Let’s dive into what you should look out for, how to prevent burns, the effects of paw burns, and how to treat them if they do happen.

Recognizing the Signs of Paw Burns

Paw burns are no joke and can be quite painful for dogs - imagine burning the soles of your foot! Here are some signs that your pup might have burnt paws:

  • Limping or favoring a paw: If your dog is suddenly reluctant to walk or seems to be limping, their paws might be hurting.
  • Licking or chewing at paws: Dogs naturally lick an area to attempt to soothe it or heal it, so persistent licking or chewing can often be a sign of irritation or burns.
  • Discolored pads: Burnt paw pads might look darker or redder than usual.
  • Blisters or redness: Severe burns can cause blisters, redness, and swelling.
  • Peeling or raw skin: The worse the burn, the more layers of skin are affected, and the longer it takes to heal. The tissue that makes up paw pads may be tougher than other forms of skin, but it isn't indestructible.

Red, burnt and peeling pads on a dog paw from exposure to hot surface

Photo credit: East Bay SPCA veterinary surgeon

How to Prevent Paw Burns

Prevention is key to keeping your dog’s paws safe. Some simple preventative measures include:

  • Checking the temperature: Use the "7 Second Rule" – place the back of your hand on the pavement for seven seconds. If it's too hot for you, it's definitely too hot for your dog's paws.
  • Avoiding hot surfaces: This one is pretty simple, yet often ignored as people underestimate how hot the ground can get. Stick to walking your dog on grass or shaded areas instead of on hot pavement or asphalt.
  • Walking during cooler times: Early mornings and late evenings are the best times for walks when the ground is cooler. If you have to take your dog out in the middle of the day (and we all have to from time to time), stay in the grass and the shade.
  • Using dog booties: Protective booties can be a game-changer in shielding your dog's paws from hot surfaces. A few top brands to look for are Ruffwear, WagWear, Spark Paws, Healers, Kurgo, QUMY, and others.
  • Moisturizing their paws: Dry paw pads tend to be more susceptible to damage and irritation. Regularly moisturizing your dog's paw pads can keep them healthy and less prone to burns.

Since our bare feet rarely touch the ground, we don't often get a proper perspective of the ground's temperature. This chart gives a rather eye-opening summation of just how hot different ground cover surfaces can get during summer temperatures in the morning versus the afternoon.

Bar graph depicting average surface temperatures in Celsius and Fahrenheit of various ground surfaces at 10 AM and 2 PM

Original information via a 2008 Frostburg State University Study

Effects of Paw Burns on Dogs

Burns are a wound in a class of their own, so much so that they have their own medical specialty. They not only have a physical effect, but a mental effect as well. Here are a few of the side effects of a paw burn:

  • Pain and discomfort: Burns are painful and can make walking and even resting more difficult for your dog.
  • Infection: Infection is the most serious risk and side-effect of a burn. Open wounds from burns are extremely susceptible to bacteria and can lead to a nasty infection and further localized and systemic complications. Many infections can form within a few hours after the initial damage, and the longer an infection lasts, the harder it is to eliminate.

    The more severe the burn - meaning the more damaged layers of skin - the higher the likelihood of infection. If you’re worried an infection has already formed, we always recommend consulting with your vet, as they will be able to identify the specific bacteria causing the infection and prescribe the proper medications.

  • Limping or mobility issues: Severe burns and the infections that can arise within them can cause long-term mobility problems if not treated promptly.
  • Behavioral changes: Pain from burns can lead to changes in behavior, such as aggression or withdrawal.

Front dog paws with burned, red, peeling pads

Photo via the NNDDA

Treating Burnt Paws with Lavengel

If your dog ends up with burnt paws, it’s crucial to treat them quickly to prevent further damage, discomfort, or infection. Here's what you can do for a minor paw burn.

As a disclaimer: This is not for serious burn wounds. If you are uncertain of what to do (or even if you are), we highly recommend taking your dog to the vet in the event of any burn wound - paws or otherwise. Further, be aware that your dog may be in pain, and even the kindest dogs can bite when injured.

  1. First, wash the paw with cool water.
  2. Very carefully clear away any dirt or debris, checking between pads.
  3. Apply a thin layer of Lavengel (more on that below). This should significantly reduce the sting and irritation, help protect the wound, and greatly aid in the healing process.
  4. To further assist with the mending and guard the burn, spread a layer of Lavengel on a soft gauze bandage and wrap the paw.
  5. Understand that your dog is likely try to lick the area in an attempt to heal it, so keep an eye on them. Use an Elizabethan collar (cone) if necessary.
  6. Check the burned pad every 12-24 hours. Reapply the gel and a clean bandage as needed.

Why Lavengel for Burns?

Lavengel is our research-backed, natural skin and wound care gel for dogs. It helps quickly relieve and naturally heal burns, wounds, and many skin irritations - all while being safe for dogs to lick!

Made with five pronounceable ingredients, Vitamin E TPGS, lavender oil, Vitamin C, zinc, and water, Lavengel offers numerous benefits, including:

  • Soothes and calms burned skin: Lavender oil helps calm irritated skin and provides quick, lasting relief from discomfort.
  • Promotes skin healing: Vitamin C and Zinc keep free radicals at bay (unstable molecules that steal electrons and slow the healing process), speeding up the healing process. They also support collagen production and tissue repair.
  • Moisturizes and protects burns: Vitamin E TPGS moisturizes the skin and forms a hydrogel-like barrier, preventing dryness and further damage. Plus, it helps improve the quickness and lasting effect of the relief and mending process.

Before and after images of Lavengel healing redness and infection between toes of English Bulldog

Chandler the Bulldog's Healing Story

Chandler the rescued English Bulldog had some nasty sores on her paws. Her owner tried a prescription ointment for 2 weeks with minimal success, but then she tried Lavengel. Chandler’s paws started to heal significantly better and faster than the prescription product before it.

The soothing and healing properties of the gel worked wonders! The infected sores healed up quickly, she stopped licking at biting at her paws, and the redness decreased tremendously within 2 weeks. Plus, with Lavengel, she didn't have to wear a cone like she did with the prescription ointment. Finally Chandler was back to her happy, playful self!

Check out Chandler's full recovery story on our Real Stories page.

Conclusion

Keeping your dog's paws safe from burns this summer is a must. By taking a few preventive measures - remember the 7 Second Rule - and being aware of the signs of paw burns, you can ensure that they can stay on their feet.

If your pup does end up with a burns - paw or otherwise - Lavengel is a top-notch solution to soothe and help heal their skin. As an added (secret) bonus, it is phenomenal on human burns as well!

To learn more about the types of burns and additional tips, check out our burns page. For more info on many other types of canine skin conditions, see our growing educational dog skin issues resource. Here’s to a fun and safe summer for you and your furry friend! 🌞🐾

BACK TO BLOG