Special Paint Developed For Airplanes And Buildings Could Help Protect Puppy Paws

Aug 13, 2019

On a warm, sunny day, Humane Animal Rescue's director of volunteer and foster services, Monica Garcia, takes a beagle named Shadow out for a walk. In especially hot weater, the rescue requires dog walkers to test the temperature of the pavement with their fingers or bare foot. Like human feet, dog paws are sensitive to heat.

"If you can keep your fingers or your foot on [the pavement] for ten seconds then okay, but if it's too hot [for you], it's too hot for the dogs," Garcia said.

Garcia said when it's 90 degrees or hotter, it's often too hot to walk the dogs for more than a couple minutes. This summer, they've installed tents on a gravel play space to give reprieve to volunteer walkers and dogs. They've even considered splashing water on sidewalks to cool things down.

PPG says it may have a better solution: a heat-reflecting paint that's meant for the outside of airplanes and buildings.

The special top coat comes in any color, and can be matched to the branding of whatever airline is purchasing the paint. It's layered over white paint, so light passes through the top coat and is reflected by the white paint. 

Samples of PPG's heat-reflective paint. When layered over white, light reflects.
Credit Kathleen J. Davis / 90.5 WESA

Kristi Kauffman, senior technical manager at PPG, demonstrated the technology with a heat lamp and two identical-looking black panels. The one with the special topcoat got warm slowly, while the other heated up much faster. At the end of the test, the panel with the heat-reflective coating was 50 degrees cooler than the other.

"Now this is more of an extreme example than what you would get on the sidewalk, but it can show you the effect," Kauffman said.

The paint isn't sold in retail stores, but Kauffman said PPG is considering making this available to people who might use it to cool down sidewalks.

Garcia at Humane Animal Rescue said it would be a game changer for summer dog walking.

"If it was something we could purchase or even get donated, I think that would be amazing," she said.