Dog Care

Is Running On Gravel Bad for Dogs?

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Labrador walking on gravel

A: Being barefoot isn’t that tough when a dog is running on grass or other natural ground surfaces, but running on concrete, asphalt, gravel, or other hard surfaces can put a lot of stress on your dog’s body and can put them at risk of injury to their legs, paws or paw pads.

My yard is an oasis but is also a potential hazard for my dog. I’ve been using gravel in my garden for years, and for several good reasons—versatility, easy to lay and maintain, climate-resistant, and affordable.

But when it comes to our paw-pals, there are major risks involved with gravel, asphalt driveways, and other areas.

Gravel can get lodged between your dog’s paw pads or in worse cases can cause your dog to choke. Read on to find out about dog-safe gravel, how to build a safe dog run and things you can do if your dog gets hurt when running on gravel.

Is Running On Gravel Bad for Dogs: Key Takeaways

• A gravel driveway can burn a dog’s pads when it gets too hot.

• Pea gravel is the best gravel for a dog run.

• Learn how to treat your pup’s pads if he burns his paws

• You can remove gravel from the dog’s paws with a pair of clean tweezers.

• In any health crisis, consult your vet, or a pet emergency room

Disclaimer: does not intend to provide veterinary advice, but we do link to reputable information, resources, and canine education. The content here is not a substitute for veterinary guidance.

Why Isn’t Gravel Safe for Dogs? 

According to the American Kennel Club, it’s not just plants and soil that can be harmful to dogs, there are risks involved with gravel and asphalt too.

Gravel can be dangerous to your dog in several ways, most notably:

  • If gravel gets lodged between a dog’s paws
  • Burn your dog’s pads if the gravel gets too hot
  • If your dog eats gravel

How to Remove Gravel from Dog’s Paws?

It’s quite common for dogs to tread on sharp objects, and for gravel to get embedded in the pads of their paws.

However, you should consult a vet in the event gravel gets stuck in your dog’s paws. If a vet isn’t available, follow the instructions below to remove gravel from your dog’s paws.

1. Clean the area with warm soapy water.

2. Using a pair of scissors, gently grip the stuck gravel and pull the piece out at the same angle as it appears to have been lodged.

3. Clean the wound again, and cover with a breathable sterile dressing.

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How to Treat Burnt Dog’s Paws from Hot Gravel?

Your dog’s paws are covered with foot pads, which can handle pretty much anything nature throws at them. However, there are several human-made gravel and other hot surfaces such as asphalt, metal, and concrete that can burn your dog’s paws.

  • If your furry pal has any of the symptoms of burned paws, get in touch with your vet immediately.
  • Symptoms of burned paws include blisters, limping or avoiding walking, excessive licking or chewing, paw pads are darker in color than usual, foreign objects in paws, red paw pads (in severe cases), or paws are visibly damaged.

👉 Seeing your veterinarian for your dog’s burned paws is non-negotiable, especially if your dog’s paws are bleeding or severely burned.

Steps to Treat Burnt Dog Paws

If you can’t get your dog to the vet immediately, follow these steps to treat your dog’s burnt paw pads to prevent infection and further injury.

1. Start by flushing the pads with cold water to clean any debris and help soothe the burn. Apply a cool compress if available. (Keep one handy for future emergency situations)

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2. Get your dog off its feet to prevent further pain and injury. Lay your dog in a grassy area outdoors or bring it inside if possible.

3. Gently clean your dog’s paws and remove any debris or foreign objects embedded in the pads.

Do not disturb debris that’s deeply embedded. Wash your dog’s paws with ani-septic soap/shampoo and water and rinse thoroughly. Use a clean towel to pat the paw burns dry.

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4. Apply an antibiotic or paw balm to soothe your dog’s paws until they’re seen by the vet. Wrap the injured paws in gauze and keep tabs for any swelling, which means the bandage is too tight and is cutting off circulation.

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How to Apply Balm to Burnt Dog Paws?

Your paw-pal is probably in a little pain and experiencing discomfort, so you’ll have to distract your dog with treats and toys.

After the area is cleaned, apply the balm generously with clean hands or a cloth, and keep your dog occupied until the balm dries.

Apply the balm at least 1 – 3 times per day.

👉 Make sure you keep your dog occupied while the balms dry!

What Type of Gravel is Good for Dogs?

Word on the internet is that pea gravel is the safest type of gravel for dogs. But the city of Toronto adopted this method in many of its off-leash parks and the results were disappointing and led to an injury.

Many dogs suffered scratches, a badly injured nail, or a severely scraped paw, so although pea gravel isn’t supposed to be sharp, it’s quite jagged and can lead to injuries.

Pea gravel may be safer than other forms of gravel due to its rounded edges, but I still wouldn’t recommend it for a dog run as it could cause injury to your dog’s paws.

What’s the Best Outdoor Surface for Dogs?

Dirt or grass is the easiest, safest and cheapest solution for several reasons. First, it stays cool in the summer and is easy on your dog’s feet.

On the downside, you may find it a bit challenging trying to keep your dog clean, but is a much better option than causing injury to your dog’s feet with gravel and concrete.

Next is synthetic grass, which looks just like real grass but is easier to clean and doesn’t require the same amount of upkeep.

If you have gravel, rocks, or concrete in your outdoor dog run, consider laying wood platforms over them but make sure that the wood is treated with a dog-friendly paint or stain.

Final Thoughts

Getting to the big question—is running on gravel bad for dogs, the answer is a resounding yes, and this includes pea gravel as well.

Many leading publications claim that pea gravel goes easy on your dog’s feet but it’s a form of gravel after all and can cause injury to your furry pal.

If you want to ensure your pet’s safety, choose grass, synthetic grass, or even wooden platforms placed over gravel or concrete.

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Sidney loves dogs of all breeds! He grew up with the most beautiful White German Shepherd. Ever since then, he has been obsessed with dogs and has owned a lot of different breeds. Sidney is the founder of Doggie Dawg., and he looks forward to spreading his love and knowledge of dogs, and the joy they can bring to the life of a pet owner!

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