Does My Dog Need to Wear Boots?

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You may have seen little booties on dogs when it’s wet or cold out. They look funny and cute, but are they necessary? Find out more about when dog boots might be a good idea.

Are dog boots necessary to keep paws safe?

Dogs’ paw pads are generally pretty tough. But there may be times, places, and situations in which dog shoes do make sense.

  • Injury: Cuts and scrapes heal best when they are kept clean and dry. A paw with an injury will heal faster if your dog wears a boot on the affected foot. Talk to your vet to see if this would be appropriate.
  • Winter time: If you live in an area where de-icers are used to melt snow and ice, be aware that some of them can cause chemical burns on paw pads. (You also don’t want your dog licking these chemicals off once you’re back indoors.) Salt crystals can also be sharp and uncomfortable to walk on. Furthermore, if your dog has furry feet that collect ice and snow between the toes, she may be more comfortable wearing boots.
  • Summer time: Does it get dangerously hot where you live? Your pup may get burns on his feet when going for walks. A good test to see whether the ground is too hot: press your own hand against it for a few seconds. If it’s too hot for you, it’s too hot for your dog! If walking on cooler grass isn’t an option, you may want to put boots on your dog. (Just keep in mind that your dog has sweat glands in his paw pads, so don’t keep the booties on for longer than necessary when it’s hot out. You don’t want him to get overheated.)
  • Hiking or rough terrain: If you and your dog enjoy hiking or camping, booties might be a good idea. Rocks and rough terrain can be painful; sturdy boots with a good tread can be very helpful.
  • Allergies: Some dogs are extremely allergic to grass. While booties will not prevent exposure to airborne pollen, they can help protect paws from contact irritation from grass and weeds.

Dogs’ paw pads are generally pretty tough. But there may be times, places, and situations in which dog shoes do make sense.

How do I find a good pair of dog boots for my dog?

If you choose to get boots for you dog, fit is super important. Boots should be comfortable and not too tight. And, of course, they need to actually stay on. You may have to try many pairs on your dog to find a good fit.

It’s also a good idea to get your dog used to booties before he actually has to wear them. Start by putting booties on your dog in your home, offering lots of treats and praise. Dogs can be very dramatic when getting used to booties—some dogs will even flop over and refuse to walk (veterinarians refer to this as “bootie paralysis”). Be patient and consistent, and your dog will eventually get used to her new shoes.

If booties are not an option, there are other ways to protect your dog’s paws:

  • After a winter walk, soak paws in warm water and dry thoroughly.
  • Trim between-the-toes fur that will accumulate ice and snow.
  • Apply specially formulated paw wax to your dog’s paw pads before going outside. This will protect paw pads from chemicals and help prevent your dog’s paw pads from getting dry and cracked from exposure to snow and ice.
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