Photo credit: Ultra-Paws Dog Boots
I used to laugh at pet owners who walked their dogs with little booties. I viewed it as an unnatural human to pet transference that wasn’t appropriate. However, now that I live in the city with our dog, I’ve come to understand the need for paw protection and dog boots.
We first used dog boots last year when Bobby cut one of his feet on a small bit of glass. His foot was too sore to walk on the hard sidewalk surface, so we used a dog boot to protect the sensitive paw for a few weeks while he healed. The cushioned barrier allowed him to do his daily walks without added pain or further injury.
We now use dog boots primarily in the winter when sidewalks are coated in thick layers of rock salt or chemical de-icing agents. Although helpful in maintaining sidewalk safety, these products can severely cut, chap, or burn your pet’s paws.
Paw Protection & Avoiding Hazards to Dog Pads
The need for paw protection stems from your lifestyle and environment. For pet owners who are outdoor enthusiasts who trek rugged trails over sharp rocks of frozen fields, the need for paw protection may increase over someone who is more of a homebody. Likewise, you should consider the streets, roads, or parks where your dog is walked on a daily basis.
After moving to the city from the suburbs, I’ve discovered a whole new set of obstacles that can harm our dog’s feet:
- Broken glass on sidewalks and grassy areas (tiny fragments that are hard to see)
- Gum lurking in grass that sticks to the feet
- Hot sidewalks or pavement in the summer which can burn the dog’s pads
- Sharp rocks, stones, pebbles in off-leash areas or hiking trails
- Snow which accumulates between toes making it difficult to walk
- Sharp ice or hardly packed snow which can injure pads
- Chemicals or salt used to de-ice sidewalks and stairs which can burn feet or be ingested through licking feet.
Photo credit: Muttluks Dog Boots
Dog Boot Types
Like most pet products, dog boots come in a wide variety of styles ranging from the utilitarian to the over the top designer looks. When it comes to paw protection, it’s really about your dog’s safety and less about how well the dog boots accessorize with your personal style.
Reusable vs. Disposable
Dog boots can be found in both disposable and reusable types. If you’re not anticipating using them frequently or just want to try them out, the disposable booties should work perfectly. For frequent usage or for a more durable dog boot, the reusable versions come in many colors and styles.
Size & Fit
Dog boots come in a variety of sizes, usually labeled S – XL. Most companies will offer sizing suggestions based on paw size for your particular breed. Also consider how the particular product will fasten onto the dog’s leg to determine if it will work for you. Some products offer a single fastener (either snap or velcro) while others may offer two fasteners for greater security.
Your dog isn’t going to give you much feedback so it’s important to consider which dog boots offer the most comfort for your pet. Consider the material, it’s construction, and any added foot padding. You may want to consider whether the boots will be used during Summer, Winter, or All-Season. Some products may be geared at Winter use and may be too warm for Summer use.
Weather Proof & Seasonal Features
Depending on how you will use the dog boots, consider the season and conditions under which you will use the product. Some brands offer products which are waterproof, use breathable fabrics for summer weather, or are insulated for cold weather.
Wearing Dog Boots for the First Time
Don’t expect your dog to understand why you’re putting boots on his or her feet. The first time will be a whole new sensation and will likely cause your dog to do a wild dance around the room. I suggest having a favorite toy or treat on hand to take their mind off from their feet.
Consider using the boots for a short duration for the first few days to help break in the product and ease your dog into the concept.
Photo credit: Pawz Dog Boots
Buying Dog Boots
There are many brands and dog boot products available in most pet stores. You can also find a good variety of pet boots and paw protectors available online from Amazon.com.
I have not tried many of the products, so I am hesitant to name a favorite at this point. However, I will include links to some of the more notable products for your consideration:
- Ruff Wear (Oregon, United States)
- Muttluks (Toronto, Canada)
- Ultra-Paws (Minnesota, United States)
- Pawz (United States)
Do you have a brand that you prefer? If so, note it in the comments below!