Road salt, crusty snow, icy puddles…depending on where you live, winter can throw a whole smorgasbord of nasty weather your way. You wouldn’t walk through it in your bare feet – and neither should your dog. Why not buy him some boots?
Just like us, our canine companions are prone to frostbite, and susceptible to painful burns on their paws when they walk over the harsh chemicals found in snow melt products. Icy surfaces raise the risk of falls and injury, while crusty snow can actually cut delicate pads. Dog boots can provide protection against all kinds of winter mayhem, but you have to make sure you’re buying a quality product. Here are four crucial things to consider when making a purchase.
1. Will they keep water out?
No one likes cold, wet feet, and that includes your furry friend. “Dog boots that are insulated and designed to keep water out are ideal,” says Susan Strible of Ruffwear. To prevent water from entering the boot and potentially causing frostbite and ice buildup between toes, Susan recommends looking for a boot that is DWR (Durable Water Repellant) coated. The boot should also be breathable so water does not become trapped inside the shoe.
2. Do they provide traction?
It might be comical to watch a dog awkwardly attempt to walk across an icy or snowy surface (it just looks so darn cute!), but the laughter will come to an abrupt halt if he slips and hurts himself. It’s especially important to keep an elderly dog from falling; just like older people, senior dogs often have a difficult time recovering from injury.
For proper traction, look for a boot that offers a patterned sole for gripping ice and snow. A boot with traction is also a sensible idea for those with senior or lame dogs who do not necessarily live in snow country but have hardwood floors or other slippery surfaces in their homes.
3. Can they protect against chemicals?
“Many cities use salt and liquid chloride to melt the ice on roads,” says Andrea Friedland of Pawz Dog Boots. “These chemicals burn the dog’s pads and are very painful.” Boots keep paws out of contact with snow melt chemicals and salt.
Winter is not the only time when our dogs’ paws are exposed to harmful chemicals. Diligent dog guardians are cognizant of where their companions are stepping year round, since lawn chemicals can also harm paws. And those are just the man-made aggravators; there are also natural substances and surfaces that can harm a tender paw. “Boots can protect your dog from sand rash, hot pavement, fire ants and red clay,” says Andrea. Susan adds that you can also use dog boots to keep your companion save from “sharp lava rocks, allergens found on or near the ground, and rough surfaces such as gravel, rocky trails and abrasive sand.”
4. Will the boots fit your dog properly?
Just because a dog is large does not mean he will necessarily need a large boot. The same applies to small dogs. While this may seem paradoxical at first, consider the slender legs and paws of a whippet or greyhound compared to the wide floppy paws of a Lhasa apso.
With this in mind, it is important to properly measure your dog’s paws in order to decipher which boot size is most appropriate for him. Susan advises measuring the width of the paw to get the most accurate fitting. Companies that make quality dog boots usually offer a size chart and measuring instructions as well.
A properly fitted boot is a smart way to ensure it will not slip off. There is nothing more frustrating than being one mile into your snowshoeing adventure with your dog, then having to turn back because of ill-fitting boots. “Velcro doesn’t perform well in wet, icy conditions,” says Susan, adding that some boots have a “webbing cam buckle and elastic cord loop system” to keep them on and avoid annoying slip-off.
A set of durable, well-made dog boots that meet the above criteria will help your pooch step out in style while keeping his paws warm, dry and safe from injury, no matter how frightful the weather.