Large Bernese Mountain dog wearing boots

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Although they look cute, you may wonder if dog boots are necessary during the rainy winter or hot summer months. While your dog’s paw pads can handle walking on rough surfaces in different environments, dog boots may be necessary to protect their paws in extreme temperatures.

Keep reading to discover the situations you may want to dress your dog in boots and the times when you should avoid doing this.

When Do Dogs Need Booties?

Dog booties are shoes for your dog's paws, which help protect them from injury on rugged terrain or extreme weather. This can include hot or cold weather conditions. They're designed using various materials, from plastic and rubber, and typically have velcro or loophole straps.

If you live somewhere with extreme temperatures or are vacationing with your pup, investing in boots for your dog may be a good idea, especially if it’s extremely hot or there’s snow.

The salt sprinkled on the sidewalks during snowy seasons can irritate your dog’s paws and lead to chemical burns, so boots can be a good way to protect their paw pads.1 Even dog breeds that are more suited to cold weather, like huskies, should wear some kind of foot covering to prevent them from getting cracked paws.2

Boots can also protect your dog's feet from getting burned or blistered during the hot summer months.3 To prevent this, check the pavement temperature with your hand or foot to help you determine whether or not the surface is too hot.

Benefits of dog boots

Benefits Of Dogs Wearing Booties

We know your pup looks cute in them, but when do dogs need to wear booties? Along with the adorable appearance, there are several advantages to wearing them.

Protection against extreme weather

Insulated dog boots can protect against sharp, scratching ice, snow, or nasty chemicals and prevent your dog's paws from bleeding or getting injured.2

Smaller breeds with thinner fur can be particularly susceptible to the cold; therefore, they need extra help staying warm. Dog boots will keep their paws warm and provide an extra layer of insulation. However, some signs can indicate your dog’s paws are too cold, even among snow-loving breeds. Common signs include excessive paw licking, dry or splitting footpads, or difficulty walking. Investing in a sweater for your dog is also a good idea if they're shivering or noticeably cold.

Additionally, some surfaces may get too hot during summer, so boots may be needed to protect your dog from getting burned. However, it's important to remember that your dog has sweat glands on their paws, so keep an eye on them to ensure they don't overheat and give them time to rest and cool down in the shade.

Injury prevention

If your dog is chewing their paw after a walk, they have likely stepped on something and injured themselves. Dog shoes protect your furry companion’s feet from getting nicked on sharp rocks or pricked with thorns and other hazardous objects.2 If you often go hiking with your dog, it may be worth getting a pair of boots to keep their paws protected.

Managing allergies

For dogs that suffer from pet allergies, a pair of boots can help minimize their exposure to grass and weeds, although it won't prevent them from airborne pollen.4

Less maintenance

Dog boots also eliminate the tiresome task of cleaning mud, snow, and dirt from your pet's paws after every walk.

Mobility assistance

If your dog struggles with walking, they may appreciate some vet-recommended, extra-grip, non-slip orthopedic boots.

Orthopedic dog boots may help dogs with conditions that limit mobilityThis can help dogs with arthritis, hip dysplasia, and other conditions.2 Before purchasing any boots, it's a good idea to discuss different options with your veterinarian to determine which ones may be best for your pup.

When Are Dog Boots Not Necessary?

Despite the benefits, there are times when dog boots may be a burden to everyday life, especially if your pooch is adverse to wearing them. Your pup may be picky about what they put on their feet, so we recommend testing a few pairs before using them regularly.

If your dog is struggling to adjust, it may be better to avoid shoes until they feel more comfortable. Otherwise, they may try to chew and remove them. Additionally, your dog will experience discomfort if their boots don't fit correctly. Ill-fitting shoes can disrupt your dog's mobility, leading to slips, falls, blisters, and sores.

In many cases, dog boots aren’t necessary on daily walks. A dog's paw pads are usually strong enough unless you live in an area prone to extreme weather conditions.2 However, if you live somewhere with milder weather and your dog doesn’t spend too much time outdoors, boots aren’t a necessity for you. Instead, consider learning how to keep your dog safe and exercise indoors during harsh weather.

How to choose a pair of dog boots

How To Choose The Right Pair of Dog Boots

In order to choose the right pair of boots, you must measure your dog’s feet. As mentioned previously, ill-fitting shoes can lead to discomfort. Remember to measure regularly if your dog is still young and growing and keep their nails trimmed for a better fit.2

You must also know why you're buying the boots. What kind of terrain does your dog struggle with? Is it due to colder temperatures? Hotter weather? These kinds of factors will impact your buying decision. It can be worth spending a bit more money on shoes that are better quality and made from comfortable, lightweight materials that will make all the difference in your dog’s enjoyment.

Felt or fleece boots can be quite effective with picky dogs as they're more malleable, but they'll also get wet in damp or snowy weather, making your dog’s feet even colder than before. Waterproof fabric and non-slip soles will help keep your dog’s feet dry and clean.

Training Your Dog to Wear Boots

One tip to help your pup adjust to wearing booties is to use the “one paw at a time” method. Doing so allows them to walk with just one shoe before introducing all four.

It will be a case of trial and error but don’t give up hope. Many dogs are initially resistant to boots, but they need time to adjust. Try positive reinforcement and reward your dog whenever they interact with the shoes. Most importantly, be patient with your furry friend; They'll get there!

Close-up of dog wearing dog shoes

Do Dogs Need Booties?: FAQs

At what temperature do dogs need booties?

Whether your dog should wear boots should be based on the type of terrain your pup is walking on rather than the temperature outside. You'll also have to take into account their behavior or symptoms. For example, they may be noticeably shivering or have cracked, dry paws or skin. If you're still unsure, speak to a licensed veterinarian today for advice to determine if your dog should wear booties or not.

Should dogs always wear boots outside?

In some circumstances, yes. If the weather conditions are extreme, it can be beneficial for dogs to wear shoes on their daily walks outside to protect their paws from damage. That said, dog paws are designed to endure running on all sorts of terrains, and if the conditions are mild, your dog will most likely not need them.

What are good alternatives for dog boots?

If your dog is against wearing booties, you can always try a thin, protective layer of paw wax to prevent damage. In this case, you must rinse and dry their paws with warm water when you return inside.1 To minimize cracking, ensure their paws are hydrated with a dog-friendly conditioner or paw balm.

Final Notes

Does your dog need boots? While there are times that booties may be appropriate, they're not an essential piece of equipment for your dog unless you live in snowy or scorching conditions or travel through rough terrains. Other reasons to consider purchasing dog booties may include allergies, injury prevention, and mobility support. Still, these factors should all be discussed with your veterinarian first to see if it's the correct course of action.

If you're considering purchasing dog boots, remember to measure your pet's paws and account for future growth. You also want to be patient with your pet as they adjust to their shoes. Using positive reinforcement training can help them acclimate faster.

Speak to a licensed veterinarian today to ensure boots are appropriate for your dog and obtain helpful recommendations. We can also provide advice on behavioral issues, so you can support your dog as they adapt to their new boots. Get the advice you need from a Dutch vet today.

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References

  1. Staff, AKC. “Best Dog Boots for Winter & Cold Weather.” American Kennel Club, 13 Dec. 2022, https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/lifestyle/dog-boots-for-winter/.

  2. Protect your dog’s paws from winter weather” Animal Humane Societyhttps://www.animalhumanesociety.org/resource/protect-your-dogs-paws-winter-weather.

  3. Waldorf Gewitz, Elaine. “How Hot is Too Hot for Dogs Paws?” American Kennel Club, 04 Aug. 2021, https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/home-living/dog-paws-hot-pavement/.

  4. Rowlands, Richard. “Does My Dog Need Shoes?” Pet Insurance, 23 Dec 2021, https://www.akcpetinsurance.com/blog/does-my-dog-need-shoes.

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