Happy National Dog Day! In that spirit, let’s talk going outside. Unless you’re one of those people who have taught their dogs to use a litter box, your canine friend probably poops on nature once or twice a day. In addition, exercise and outside stimulation are important for their health and well-being. That means walks.
The problem is that the ground in Houston is hot. Really hot. According to my Weather Channel app the heat index here has rarely dropped below triple digits in the afternoon all summer. Pavement especially, absorbs heat throughout the day and can reach temperatures of 120? F or higher. You can literally fry an egg on a Houston sidewalk in August, and that can do terrible damage to the pads on your dog’s feet. So, here are five tips to avoid hurting them on their daily consitutionals.
1. Go Early and Late
If possible, walk your dog before sunrise and after sunset. These are the best times to avoid the heat, and your dog might even get to see some local wildlife in the morning (bunnies live in my apartment complex!). Depending on your work/school schedule, this may not be practical, and you should avoid walking your dog too late at night. ABC 13 has a tag for “pedestrian struck” for a reason, and darkness doesn’t help.
2. Test the Ground
The general rule is, if you can’t put your palm on the ground for seven seconds without pain then neither can your dog. Another trick I do is to leave a rock just outside my door where it catches the sun. Pick it up and see if you can hold it. If not, then you need to have a plan for your dog.
3. Wax Their Paws
You can buy shoes for your dogs, but they really, really don’t enjoy that, KAREN. I recommend wax for your dog’s feet. I use Essential Pet Pad Protector. It comes in a little round metal container that you can easily use to rub on your dog’s feet before going outside. It’s fairly cheap, lasts for moths, is non-toxic and odorless, and it doesn’t leave streaks on your carpet or furniture. It takes a few seconds, even less if you’ve taught your dog to roll over and let you apply it.
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4. Take Advantage of Parks and Trails
Not necessarily practical for every day, but think seriously about using some of the dog-friendly spaces available in Houston for the exercise your dog needs in the summer. The Arboretum is good if you avoid the open spaces and stick under the trees. You should try to enjoy Terry Hershey Park before the trees get knocked down in the latest Harris County Flood Control District project. Bibi and Mini-Me Bush Dog Park and Cullen Park all have shaded areas and walks, and there’s always the bike trails in Memorial. If a day trip is out of the question, just do your best to notice shaded and wooded areas nearby your home.
5. If All Else Fails, There is Pee Pad Training
I do realize that a lot of my suggestions involve privilege like the ability to drive out and take your dog places or set your schedule. It’s not ideal, of course, but you can teach your dog to use pee pads regularly. This can allow you to stay out of the heat entirely, and if you stay on top of cleaning up won’t stink up the house too bad. The pads can even be ordered from the local grocery store to be delivered if you have issues going outside. If you take this path, I highly recommend enlisting a friend or a professional dog walking service to still get your pup out for exercise to a park a couple of times a week. Wag is a good service for finding people. Dog companionship is a great boon, and just because you can’t be the one walking your dog that’s no reason to deny yourself the joy of having one. It can be worked around.