A dog's paws are well-equipped to handle different terrains, but socks, shoes, boots or booties may be necessary in some situations. Which footwear is right for your dog?
Why Wear Booties?
A dog wearing shoes or booties may look unusual or even downright silly, but there are times when footwear can be essential gear for a pet. Many dog owners have booties for their dogs because of…
- Allergies: Dogs that are allergic to pollen or other widespread allergens may have swollen or itchy paws when their symptoms flare up. Wearing booties or socks can help alleviate those symptoms and keep the dog from chewing on its paws.
- Injuries: If a dog has a foot injury such as a cut on its pad or the underside of its foot, a proper sock or shoe can keep the wound cleaner and safe from further aggravation, giving it a chance to heal properly without risking infections.
- Traction: Dogs that move over slippery surfaces, such as working outdoors in icy conditions or older dogs in homes with smooth tile or hardwood floors, can get better traction when wearing proper footwear. This can minimize the risks of dangerous slips and falls.
- Temperature: In very cold areas or for dogs that are not adapted to winter conditions, the warmth and dryness of a comfortable boot can help keep them safe without denying them walks or outdoor playtime.
- Chemicals: In areas where the ground may be exposed to harsh chemicals – such as pesticides, herbicides, ice melters, etc. – wearing booties or other footwear can keep a dog's feet from becoming contaminated with potential toxins.
In addition to many serious reasons, some pet owners also have their dogs wear socks or booties as part of quirky costumes. This can be fine for a special event or fun photoshoot, but costume footwear is not usually suitable for long-term or rigorous wear and dogs should always be supervised when wearing booties for any reason.
Choosing Dog Footwear
There are many different options available for dog boots and booties. When choosing the proper footwear for your pet, take these different factors into consideration to find the best booties…
- Situation: Depending on why the gear will be worn and how it will be used, different materials and styles are available. If the booties will only be worn for a brief period, less durable, inexpensive options may suffice, but if the booties need to last through extensive use or rugged terrain, higher quality choices may be best.
- Size: All dogs' paws are different sizes, and each paw must be measured properly to ensure the best possible fit and comfort for the dog. Measure all four paws when the dog's weight is evenly distributed in a comfortable stance for the most accurate measurement, and choose booties that are suitable for the paw size. Also take into consideration the width of the ankle – some dogs have very large paws but thin ankles, and the footwear will need to adjust to fit.
- Materials: Dog footwear is available in many different materials, from simple knitted or fleece socks with minimal rubber tread to plastic or rubber boots the dog could go wading in. Leather and suede options are also available, and boots may or may not be lined for additional warmth or cushioning. Choose the best materials that suit the reason for wearing the booties, also noting if the boots have suitable tread for good traction.
- Fit: Socks and boots should fit snugly without being overly tight, which could cause the dog discomfort and anxiety. An adjustable strap around the ankle is often used to keep the boots on firmly, or the neck of taller socks or booties may be elasticized to stay in place. Be sure there are no uncomfortable ridges or sharp edges inside the footwear that can make it uncomfortable.
- Cost: A set of dog booties can range from just a few dollars for a simple, basic design to $75 or higher for the most rugged, durable winter gear. Shopping around can lead to better deals, and different retailers may have similar brands at widely varying prices. Choose the best boots possible for your budget, and it will be a worthwhile investment for proper pet care.
It can take time for a dog to get used to wearing socks, booties or boots, but the benefits of proper footwear can be well worth some patient training. Always supervise the dog until it is used to the boots, and limit the amount of time the footwear is worn until the dog is accustomed to it. In time, the dog won't mind the gear at all, and you certainly won't mind keeping your dog safe and comfortable.