5 Second Rule July 10 2013

I know, when you were a kid you Mom taught you the five second rule when you dropped food on the floor. Admit it, you know she did. Well in the summer, for your dog, there is another 5 Second rule. It has to do with determining whether or not it is too hot for your dog to walk bare paw’d on the pavement.

I grew up thinking that dog’s paws were tough and could withstand just about anything. I don’t know why I thought that but maybe for dogs that lived outside and went hunting with my Dad in the woods, it was true. Maybe not.

Many dogs now live inside and have pads that are as sensitive to heat and cold as our bare feet would be. I know I couldn’t walk across that sand at the Jersey shore at mid day without my sandals on. Or walk on the sidewalk at 2PM in hot weather anywhere. Neither can our dogs. Their pads get painfully burned just as our feet would.

So, how do you tell when its too hot? The proverbial 5 Second Rule. Put your bare foot or hand to the pavement. See if you have keep it there for 5 seconds. If so, its OK for your dog to walk on.  If not, then don’t let your dog walk without protection on his/her paws. But if you’re out for a while, keep checking since the situation may change.

If the temperature outside is 77 degrees, the pavement can be 125 degrees. At that temperature, it only takes 60 seconds to destroy skin tissue.

One very hot day I taught this rule to two teenage young men who had a young, but big, pitbull with them. To my delight, they took turns carrying her back to their car to protect her.

If you have a small dog, or a young back, carrying your dog to a cooler place may be an option. If not there are some ways you can protect their paws.

1. Socks – Most dog socks have a rubberized bottom for traction that also works as insulation. These work well for moderately hot situations or short walks.

2. Shoes – Although it takes some training to get your dog used to shoes or sandals, they offer the best protection for your dog’s paws.

So, remember to check the pavement with your bare hand or foot for 5 seconds before walking your dog on sand, gravel, pavement, cement, etc. in the summer.

Let’s stay safe out there this summer!

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