Contrary to many beliefs, a dog’s paws are feet and not footwear. Of course, these paws have been adapted to carry some form of insulation in them to protect your dog. However, in extreme situations, they might not be enough, in which case, dog footwear is your best option.
Some researchers might have led you to believe that dogs do not need footwear no matter how harsh the conditions are. However, some things are best explained by common sense.
Now, look at your dog, does he enjoy running along the beach on a hot summer day? How quickly does he rush back into the house after taking a pee on a cold winter night? When you’re back from that rocky terrain, is he enthusiastic about standing up or he just prefers to rest his sore paws?
As a dog owner, you are the best person to know when your dog is uncomfortable and we are sure that you have seen something of that sort which is why you’re here now.
In this article, we’re going to take a look at the different kinds of dog footwear that are out there and which is the best fit for your dog at every point in time. Come with us.
Misconceptions About Dogs’ Feet, Paws, And Footwear
This issue of wearing dogs footwear isn’t a generally accepted one. A lot of people see it as ridiculous while others think it is only for fashion. We’re going to be deconstructing and disproving some of these myths and misconceptions below.
1. Paws Are the Only Source of Feet Insulation That Dogs Need
This information is wrong because it includes the adverb “only.” While paws provide your pups with some form of insulation, in extreme situations, it is not enough.
Also, different dog breeds, different adaptive features. A lot of people that carry this bias refer to sled dogs in their argument. However, that should not be the case. “Why?” you ask?
Well, because sled dogs are built for the snow and have thicker furs and extra padded paws for insulation. So, unless you own a sled dog, you might want to check out for dog footwear if you want to take your dog out in the snow.
Other dog breeds need extra insulation in snowy times and other extreme cold situations. Just like in humans, cold gets into the body through the feet (or paws). So, when your dog is shivering, the answer might not be a huge blanket, but simply some dog footwear.
2. I Don’t Take My Dogs Out In The Snow So I Don’t Need Dog Footwear
First of all, that is wrong practice. Winter is measured to last an average of 91 days and you shouldn’t keep your dog indoors and “unwalked” for that long.
Your dog is not a bear, needing hibernation during the winter. He needs to be kept active even during the winter, if not more active. Activity is what will keep your dog from freezing because it keeps his blood pumping and prevents his muscles from cramping.
Now, let’s say you have a large backyard, or possibly a dog kennel and you exercise him there on cold winter days instead. What about summer? Bet you didn’t think about that.
Pull your shoes during the summer, now run along the beach on a hot, sunny afternoon. Not exactly feet-friendly, right? We thought as much. Well, it’s the same for your dog. Extremely hot sand can, in some instances, burn your dog’s paws.
Other Reasons Your Dog Needs Footwear
1. Rainy Seasons
When it rains, the water can carry certain micro-organisms to the road walk. These micro-organisms present in the water can stick to your dogs’ paws and cause irritation. As a result, your dog begins to lick his paws for some comfort which would cause him to ingest the pathogens. We all know how all that goes down after that.
2. Active Dogs
If your dog is an active one that engages in stuff like mountain climbing, hiking, hunting, and so on, you might want to get him some boots. Those tough terrains can take their toll on a dog’s paws over time.
3. Health Issues
There is a particular type of dog footwear called orthopedic dog boots or shoes. In a case where your dog undergoes such surgery, especially on their feet, veterinary doctors recommend this type of footwear to support to the healing leg bones.
Some other health issues that may require your dog to wear shoes include:
- Predisposition to hip issues due to breed type.
4. Home Cleanliness
Don’t you ever get tired of re-cleaning your floors every time the dog comes back from the yard? That’s another reason to get him some footwear.
If your dog is wearing some footwear, even though it’s only when he has to go outside, you can come home to cleaner floors.
Besides, dog footwear also means a neater dog as the paws remain clean and dry at all times.
Dog shoes are also great for beauty. They could make your dog look more interesting. Plus, since dog footwear are available in literally thousands of designs and colors, you and your dog can show off your fashion tastes through his footwear.
How Do I Know My Dog Needs Boots?
Every pup is unique so there is no general method to finding out whether or not your dog needs boots or not.
Our dogs might not be able to express themselves intelligibly when they feel pain or discomfort. However, if you are observant, you should be able to tell when your dog is experiencing some discomfort in his paws and needs footwear.
Things to Look-out for When Buying Dog Footwear
Convinced about dog footwear and looking to buy one for your pup anytime soon? Below are a few things you need to look out for:
Just like over-sized shoes can be annoying for us humans because they keep loosening after every step, so it is for the dogs. Same goes for way under-sized shoes that make our toes feel like they’re choking and gasping for air. Basically, you should conscientiously check the size of a pair of shoes before you get it for the dog.
Measure your dog’s feet and check the measuring unit the manufacturers use properly. For instance, a common error people make is to measure their dogs feet in centimeter and order for shoes measured in inches. We don’t need to tell you that you’d encounter problems that way.
Move as far away from such complications as possible by double-checking the manufacturers’ measuring unit for each shoe before placing your order.
2. Easy-to-Wear Boots
Of course, you should get something that is easy to wear and take off. This advice is even of more benefit to you, the owner, than your dog. You’re the one who is tasked with the chore of wearing and taking off the shoes from your dog’s feet.
So, unless you have a biologically advanced dog that has arms and thumbs, one smart enough to get his shoes on and off, get something easy.
3. Snug-Fitting Straps
For dog shoes to be snug fit, they would most likely need straps. Straps are necessary when it comes to dog shoes because, without them, most shoes would just come off easily.
Now, trust us when we say your dog might not like those shoes on the first try so he would try to take them off himself. These straps help to prevent that from happening.
Straps vary from buckles to snap-locks to the most popular Velcro closures. However, of all three, Velcro closures are the most popular since they are the easiest to manipulate and manage.
As much as you might want a low-budget boot, be sure to check out the material. There are lot of materials used in making dog footwear. So, you need to make your choice based on three criteria which are durability and comfort, water-resistance, and high visibility.
Especially if you’re getting dog boots for the snow, water-resistance is an all-important factor you must consider. For this function, you might have to pay a premium price, but, at least, you’re sure that your dog will be comfortable and protected while in the snow.
Finally, you want to get footwear that are brightly colored and easy to see in the dark. Some shoes might simply come in high-visibility colors or they might come with reflective stripes. Either way, high visibility is something you want for your dog shoes in order to be able to easily keep track of your dog’s whereabouts especially in the dark.
Types of Dog Footwear
Below we’ll be listing the various types of dog footwear we have, plus where, and when you would need to use each of them:
1. Waterproof Shoes
Like the name implies, these shoes are completely waterproof. They are efficient for walking on snow, during rainfall, or simply across the lawn after you’ve watered.
2. Winter Boots
They are also waterproof. However, they have more insulation than mere waterproof shoes and also absorb less moisture. Most also come with anti-slip soles.
3. Foldable Boots
In case you want to wear matching over-the-knee boots with your best friend, these are perfect. You can roll them up over the knees of your dog, or simply keep them on the ankle. They can also be called socks boots.
4. Waterproof Silicone Boots
These are great if you prefer rubber boats.
5. Soft Sole Boots
They are highly versatile and comfortable for all seasons and terrains. However, it’s like a jack of all trades, master of none. In extreme cases, you might want to get something more streamlined, otherwise, it’s great.
6. Neo-Paws Active Boots
You guessed right, for active dogs that parade tough terrains. They come with really solid soles made with injection-molded rubber.
My Dog Doesn’t Seem to Be Comfortable in His Boots, What Do I Do?
Wearing dog his shoes, is like wearing a child their shoes. Because they do not understand the benefit and because it’s something that is alien to them, they would obviously have problems with it at first. But here’s how to manage that.
1. Start Early
Just like every other form of training, start wearing your dog things like footwear and jackets at an early age. This would ensure that, over time, they would get used to the feeling of having shoes on their paws, and it won’t feel so strange to them anymore.
However, you need not be discouraged if your dog is already an old boy. Probably you only just discovered the miracle of dog footwear, or perhaps your dog’s bones just began to tire due to aging. With diligence and patience during training on your part, obedience and trust of the part of your dog, you can train him to wear shoes.
2. Positive Reinforcement Training
What is positive reinforcement?
According to a published article on verywell.com, “positive reinforcements” is described as appreciating certain behavior with reinforcing stimuli which would make such behaviors more likely to happen again in the future.
In simpler terms, it means rewarding your dog for good behavior through verbal praise or giving treats. This act is the basis for most canine training including wearing shoes.
Every time your dog stays put and lets you wear him a shoe, reward him with a treat. Doing this makes him associate shoe time with treat time, which is a good thing.
3. Construct a Routine
Develop a routine for putting on shoes. Do you go for walks by 6:00pm? Add putting on a shoe just before you go out, after you’ve put on yours. You know, puppy see, puppy do.
4. Stay Calm at All Times
Research has found out that dogs can tell if you are angry with them and if you are not.
Keeping this in mind, you should never show your dog that you are upset with him simply because he doesn’t want to wear some shoes. This will make him detest wearing the shoes altogether. He will only choose to wear them to please you or to avoid punishment, which is not good for dog morale.
Rather, what you should aim for is to make the dog associate wearing footwear with good things over time. When the dog eventually does this, shoe-wearing will become enjoyable for both of you.
If you begin to lose your patience, leave the training for a while and come back when you’re calmer.
5. Know That Your First Pair Will Be Destroyed
Sounds scary? Well it’s the blunt truth. Don’t expect the first pair of shoes you buy to last very long.
Because your dog is not yet familiar with or trained to wear them. Because of that, he would try as much as possible to get them off. So, for the first pair, get cheap dog socks for your dog to practise with.
When the dog has completely learned that boots are not food, you can go for more expensive boots.
Before we go, we’re sure you don’t wear your shoes for 24 hours at a stretch, please do same for your dog. If you leave the shoes on for too long, they’ll begin to sweat inside and nobody likes sweaty paws.
Also, if you’ve tried everything and your pup still doesn’t want to get those boots on, there are a number of alternatives to full-blown dog footwear you could try.
A good alternative, especially during the winter, is the Musher’s Secret Pet Paw Protection Wax. This product guarantees 24/7, all-season, all-terrain, all-activity protection for your doggie’s little paws. Might just do the trick.