Finding the best dog boots

Help your canine companion put his best foot forward this winter (and all year round) with a set of protective dog boots or socks.

Winter or summer, your dog’s paws are under siege from outdoor surfaces. Whether it’s snow, ice or road salt, sharp stones or hot asphalt, her tender pads can be easily injured when she’s out and about. Issues can also arise indoors, especially if you have slippery floors or need to protect your hardwood from scratches. Dog boots can help.

“Paw protection is critical to the health and well being of your dog, not just in the winter but all year round,” says Andrea Friedland of Pawz Dog Boots. “Many of our customers use dog boots to protect their pooches from lawn chemicals, pesticides, pad rashes, allergies, sand irritation and dog-run bacteria. Many people also use them for dogs that need assistance with traction control and medical applications such as covering or protecting a post-surgical bandage from getting wet or soiled on a walk.”

If you’re shopping for a set of dog boots, it’s important to make sure you choose a high quality product, and that they’re properly sized to your dog’s feet.

What to look for

Quality, comfort and fit are three of the most important factors. “We make dog boots for comfort and pliability,” says Carol Skowronek of Tammy and Teddy’s. “We use high quality fleece, waterproof nylon and deer hide. When you buy a boot, check the inside seams for stiffness or sharp or scratchy surfaces, and see what the boot has inside it. The lining should have a texture, such as a grid; dogs do not like walking on cushy surfaces.” “Dogs prefer a dog boot with no padding,” Andrea agrees. “It allows the dog to feel the ground and provides a sense of security.” Pawz makes waterproof natural rubber boots that are molded to fit a dog’s foot. “A lightweight boot that doesn’t restrict the dog’s range of motion allows him to walk, run and play as if he has nothing on his paws,” says Andrea.

Woodrow Wear makes cotton dog socks rather than boots. “Socks are soft, light, breathable, fit the foot well and are generally quite comfortable,” says Lorraine Walsten. “People should look for a good fit, comfort (so the dog will wear them) and washability.” Socks are ideal for indoors, and help prevent dogs from slipping and falling on slippery floors or scratching hardwood with their nails. Although not designed for outdoor use, the socks will protect a dog’s feet from hot pavement, and if treated with waterproof spray, can also be used on snow and ice.

Get the right size

Correct sizing is crucial. Most companies offer a range of sizes and their websites have charts and measuring instructions to help you choose the right product. “We Ttroeaot thsieers Help your canine companion put her best foot forward this winter (and all year round) with a set of protective doggie boots or socks. We recommend you measure from the big heel pad to the longest toe pad,” says Andrea.

“Measure the dog’s paw thoroughly,” adds Carol. “Usually the stores will allow your dog inside, so ask if you can try the boot on before purchase.” Lorraine advises that it’s wise to find a retailer who will accept returns or exchanges. “Not all dogs of the same breed and weight have the same size feet,” she says.

Will she wear them?

A number of techniques will help your dog accept her new footwear. “Prepare your dog for her walk,” advises Andrea. “Have her at the door with the leash attached and a couple of small treats in your pocket. Put the boots on and take her for her walk so she can feel the ground and easily acclimate to the boots. Divert her from being curious about them with a treat.” Carol adds that you can try putting the boots on when your dog is calm and tired. “Put one boot on just like you would a collar,” she says. “Leave it on about 20 minutes the first time. Don’t make anything of it, or you’ll have trouble putting it on next time. Just ignore your dog and you will see her accept them.”

Inside the house, recommends Lorraine, you can help your dog accept socks or boots by throwing a favorite toy, or calling her with a healthy treat in your hand. She’ll soon learn she can move in her new footwear and will adapt quickly.

With winter coming on, a set of dog boots or socks might make the perfect holiday gift for your pooch. She’ll be able to use them all year round!

Soothe her soles

If your companion won’t accept footwear no matter what, there’s an alternative in the form of a natural cream you can apply to her feet before you take her out. Invisible Boot by 100% Natural for Pets is made from beeswax, oils and plant extracts and creates a barrier to protect the dog’s pads from cold, salt, ice and heat.

Many companies also offer paw sticks and sprays that clean residue from a dog’s feet and nails while soothing and softening rough, dry or irritated pads. Look for a non-toxic option that’s harmless if the dog licks it off.