Sticky Situations: Bad Weather Dog Walks

If you’re a dog owner, you’ve likely taken your pet on more walks than you can count. Every day, at least three times per day, you put on your shoes, shrug on a jacket, and secure your dog with a leash. You step outside, let Fido run around for a bit, clean up the waste, and head back inside. When all is said and done, the whole process should only take around ten minutes—longer if you have time for an actual walk. However, that ten minutes can be extremely painful for your pup, even if he’s already gone to the bathroom. Why? Temperature.

Most people believe the pads on the undersides of dogs’ feet to be weather-resistant. They’re darker and tougher than human feet, and the strategic location allows less of the foot to come in contact with the ground—that must mean they’re designed to handle hot and cold days, right? Surprisingly, this is not true. Dog paws—and cat paws, for that matter—are extremely sensitive. The toughness exists to protect the animal from rocks and the unevenness of grassy or dirt ground, not high or low temperatures.

If this is the first time you’ve heard this, don’t worry—you’re not alone. Plus, if your dog hasn’t complained about the temperature through whining, barking, or refusing to go outside, the temperatures have been tolerable. Going forward, however, you’ll want to protect Fido’s paws as much as possible. Special doggy shoes exist for exactly this purpose; if you’re heading out for a walk on a frigid day, or perhaps going to the beach in 100-degree weather, these dog shoes will do the trick.

You don’t, however, need to strap on the dog shoes every time you head out for a walk. Follow this simple rule of thumb: if the temperature hurts your feet, the temperature is too extreme for your dog. If you’re walking on a hot, sandy beach and have to put your sandals back on, Fido’s feet are likely getting friend. Likewise, if you can’t image stepping outside into the cold without putting on a pair of wool socks, your dog should have some protection, too.