How to Protect Your Dog’s Paws This Summer in Montana

From enjoying scenic hikes to visiting dog-friendly restaurants, your pup loves to hang out with you during your days off. But if your dog’s paws hurt, it can keep them from enjoying all the summer fun that Montana has to offer. 

Hot sidewalks and stinging grass seeds can both make your pup prefer to stay at home. If your dog won’t go for a walk, it might be because of sore feet. Here’s how to tell what’s hurting your dog’s paws. 

Ouch, My Paws! What Makes Walks Painful for Your Dog 

Is It Too Hot to Walk?

While the summer in Montana is mild compared to other states like Arizona, temperatures can still rise enough to be dangerous for dogs. Hot asphalt, sidewalks, and rocky trails can all burn their paw pads. 

Even if it seems balmy, even when the relative temperature is 70 degrees, the sun can heat pavement up to 125 degrees. Asphalt gets even hotter, with temperatures reaching 150 degrees in the sun. Surfaces like rocks, sand, and dry grass will heat up to scorching temperatures as well. 

Just like accidentally touching the oven when it’s hot, these surfaces can cause burns that range from mild to severe.

Three Ways to Prevent Burns

  1. Use the 7-second test. If you place your hand (or bare foot) flat on the sunny pavement and can hold it there for more than seven seconds without any discomfort, then your pup should be all right for a walk. But keep in mind that different types of ground will heat differently, so be sure to check any new terrain you encounter. 
  2. Take walks during the coolest part of the day. Be sure to wear lights or reflective clothing if you and your dog are walking after dark, to keep you visible to passing motorists.  
  3. Use boots! Your dog might feel a little silly the first time you try them, but with practice and lots of treats, they will get used to them. 

Are There Any Barbed Grass Seeds or Thorns? 

Long grasses are majestic when they’re swaying in the breeze, and can even make a beautiful photo opportunity when you’re out for a walk with your dog. However, some of the seeds present in  long grasses can be irritating, painful, and even dangerous if they become lodged in your pup.

Seeds also called “grass awns” are very small and often barbed. They catch on the fur of animals and slowly bury themselves in the skin. Wounds from awns can cause infections from open sores. Awns can get caught in a dog’s ears, nose, or eyes, paws, as well as in their skin; they can even be inhaled or swallowed. 

Awns that are inhaled or swallowed can embed themselves in your dog’s airway, lungs, throat, stomach, or intestines. Once embedded they can be hard to find and remove, causing deep seated infections.

Because of the many ways they can cause damage, it is important to check in with your veterinarian if you notice any symptoms of grass awns such as draining raw spots in the skin and paws.

Symptoms of grass awns will depend on the site of the sting but can include:

  • Swelling around an entry site. Awns are most commonly found in paws and in eyes or ears so pay close attention to these areas when leaving long grasses
  • Irritation around entry sites can look like red, or hot spots. Sometimes dogs may itch the spot excessively. 
  • Excessive head-shaking
  • Biting at the feet or not putting weight on them
  • Pawing at the nose or ears
  • Fever
  • Vomiting 

Keep Your Summers Fun with Veterinary Dental Care

Keeping your dog safe and healthy is always a priority, no matter what. And one of the best things you can do for your pet is to make sure they get regular dental checkups. 

Dental problems can take a toll on your dog’s health, cause severe pain, and keep them from enjoying their favorite activities. Annual dental cleanings and exams can identify and treat common oral health problems before they get worse. 

From tooth decay to stinky breath, let Montana Pet Dentistry and Oral Surgery take care of your dog’s oral health so you can concentrate on which hike to take them on next. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.




Images used under creative commons license – commercial use (7/19/23). Photo by Brian Jones on Unsplash.