Imagine walking down the sidewalk barefoot on a blistering hot day. You'd be in agony after a few seconds.

That's how your dog likely feels when you head out for a stroll in the heat of the day. Pet owners often overlook how painful hot pavement can be for their four-legged companions. Here are some tips for protecting those paws when it's hot outside:

Adjust your walk schedule

Avoid the middle of the day and take your walks in the early morning or evening hours suggests the Humane Society of the United States. That's when the pavement isn't so hot.

Get off the concrete

Have your dog walk in the grass or dirt instead of the sidewalk or other hot surfaces. Those surfaces are much cooler, and there's a much lower chance the dog's pads will get burned.

Try it for yourself

Before you bring your dog outside, test to see how hot the concrete or blacktop is. Press the back of your hand against the concrete for seven to 10 seconds to see if it will be comfortable for your dog to walk on. If it’s too hot for your hand, it’s too hot for your dog’s paws, says the Humane Society of Charlotte.

greyhound wearing dog booties Dog booties can protect your pet from the heat of hot pavement. (Photo: Bill Morrow/flickr)

Cover up

Consider protective booties or paw wax, which creates a barrier against the elements. They will create a protective layer between your dog's feet and hot surfaces.

Build up calluses

Walk your dog on concrete during the cooler part of the day to help build up calluses on the pads of her feet, suggests the Oregon Humane Society.

Be careful at the beach, too

Sand can get as hot as pavement. Use the hand test in this setting as well before taking your pet out to the beach. Your dog's paw pads may be more sensitive after being in the water, so pay special attention to her feet if she's just been swimming or splashing around.

What to look for

dog chewing her paws Chewing and licking her paws could be a sign your dog has burned her paw pads. (Photo: Madcat_Madlove/Shutterstock)

If you've been out with your dog on a hot day, it's a good idea to check her feet for any problems. Here are signs of possible burned paw pads:

  • limping or refusing to keep walking
  • licking or chewing at feet
  • pads that are darker in color than normal
  • blisters or redness on the feet
  • missing part of paw pad

If you think your dog might have burned her paw pads, here's what to do, according to the Oregon Humane Society:

  • Carry your dog to a grassy, cool area.
  • Immediately rinse with cool water.
  • Apply a gentle antibacterial cream or liquid.
  • Keep your pet from licking her paws.
  • If burns are minor, apply an antibacterial ointment and loosely bandage.
  • For serious burns, see your vet to prevent infection.

Mary Jo DiLonardo Mary Jo writes about everything from health to parenting — and anything that helps explain why her dog does what he does.