Our canine companions have become well adapted to living in the human world, but sometimes they need a little help. And while a dog’s toe pads are well suited for woods walking, factors such as severe pavement temperatures, harsh road chemicals, and sharp objects concealed in snow can make even a simple walk to the park hazardous for your dog’s feet.
One solution is to provide a set of snug booties for your pet. But how do you know if your dog needs foot protection, and how do can you get your dog to accept and use footwear?
Let’s take a look at some things you can try…
Does Your Dog Need Booties?
If you’re wondering if your pet needs dog boots, start by looking at your daily pet routine. For example, do you often walk your pet when the pavement is extremely hot or cold? Try this quick test: Stand barefoot on the pavement—if you are unable to stand still comfortably for 5 seconds, your dog could probably benefit from paw coverings.
Some dogs are more prone to ice crystals collecting around the feet and between the pads. Breeds with longer hair around the paws (e.g., Spaniels, Wolfhounds) often develop ice clumps in the fur, and ice between the pads can be very painful, and may cause your animal to cry out or pull up lame. If you frequently walk your pet in snowy or icy conditions, or in places where roads are heavily treated with caustic, de-icing chemicals, you may want to invest in some dog booties.
Pets recovering from surgery can often also benefit from paw protection as they learn to rely on a healing limb again. Booties will guard the pads from extreme temperatures, hazards such as broken glass, and potentially toxic road chemicals while your animal regains strength and confidence.
How Can You Accustom Your Pet to Booties?
Dogs are adapted for life in the wild, so the idea of clothing—especially on their feet—probably seems strange to them. Getting your dog to adapt to booties doesn’t have to be a hassle though.
First, it’s important to select booties appropriate to your dog’s size. Boots should fit snugly but should NOT impede mobility or circulation.
Once you’ve selected pet’s your boots, it’s time to start training. You’ll need patience, a quiet training place, and an ample supply of treats to use as rewards. In a safe, quiet place, allow your pet to get familiar with the booties. While your animal is calm, try slipping on one boot, then another, until all are on. Most dogs will try to take the boots off the first few times—that’s okay. Reward your pet each time it accepts the boots. Try distracting your pet with some favorite toys to keep it engaged. Don’t try a walk outdoors just yet—let your dog get used to wearing the boots, then begin to associate putting-on-boots time with walk time. Soon your pet should make the connection that boots + leash = walk.
Another approach is to integrate booting time with grooming time when your pet is already accustomed to being handled. If your pet is already used to having its paws touched, you’ve got a head start. Dogs that are comfortable with having their paws touched tend to accept booties more easily.
Need assistance selecting the right booties for your pet? Consult your vet to see what brands they recommend, and check online product reviews. Want more info on winter gear for your pooch—check this story before suiting up your pet!
If your dog suffered paw pain before you were able to buy some booties for them, don't fret! It's smart to have a pet insurance plan on hand for any unforeseen medical emergencies. Even a check-up for sore paws can add up big time. Get a quote for Figo pet insurance today, so you never have to choose between your companion and your savings account.
Lizz Caputo is a Content Strategist at Figo, animal enthusiast, and owner of a rescued senior American Bully. Her hobbies include checking out new restaurants in her area, boxing, and petting dogs of all shapes and sizes.