“Back to school” ads have started (already, really?) but it’s still sweltering out there. Every summer, humane societies and veterinarians and police warn folks not to leave their pets in cars due to the risk of heat stroke (tragically, it still happens). But if you’re taking your dog out on a hot day, even if you’re not in the car, there’s another risk you need to avoid: burned paw pads.

It’s an easy thing to overlook. If you routinely take your dog for runs or hikes, a gloriously sunny day seems like the perfect time to head outside. But if you’re exercising on the street, on rocks or gravel or any other surface that gets hot in the sun, your dog can easily burn her paws.

And this is the thing about dogs: They won’t stop. Your buddy will keep on jogging or hiking. Often he won’t show signs of lameness until he gets home. When you check his feet to see what’s the matter, you’re appalled to find the surface of his pads abraded, blistered, even coming loose.

If this happens, don’t waste time beating yourself up. Get your dog to your veterinarian for treatment. Your dog’s feet will need some TLC for a while. The good news is, if the damaged pads are properly treated, they usually heal up fine. Your dog will be back running and hiking…during the cooler parts of the day.

Prevention is easy. Simply avoid exercising your dog when it’s hot. (This also prevents exercise-induced heat stroke, which is another big risk). If in doubt, lay your hand against the ground. If you can’t keep it there for 30 seconds without starting to burn, it’s too hot. Leave your pup at home, and try again tomorrow. Her feet will thank you.