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Believe or not there are many dog shoes that work really well, and many occasions when dog shoes are hugely helpful to take great care of your dog.
A few examples are:
- Rough abrasive terrain -granite, rough sand, rocky, volcanic rock…
- Extremely cold temperatures – snow, ice
- Salt, broken glass, chemicals
- Slippery floors
I own and operate a busy pet store in South Lake Tahoe, California called Dog Dog Cat which is surrounded by large mountains perfectly suited for outdoor activities both winter and summer. An amazing place to enjoy the outdoors with a dog. We have good intentions to take the dog along but unfortunately without footwear things can turn out very poorly for both owner and dog.
Most dogs do not venture for miles and miles on rough trails on a daily basis therefore their pads are not tough enough to endure the abrasive terrain. The pads become worn and eventually very painful, ultimately bloody. Depending on how far you are from home base and the size of your dog you can easily see how this can become a major problem.
Let me guide you to choose protective dog shoes that will prevent the experience described above and create a fantastic visit to the Sierra Mountains or wherever your dog adventures take you.
1. Distinguish the type of booties that you need. Designed to give the dog grip on slippery floors, wound booty, fashion booty, urban boot, snow booty, or a versatile booty for rough terrain. Some shoes are versatile and will provide protection under many different circumstances.
2. Preferably try the boots on the dogs feet before you buy them, but if that is not possible follow the sizing instructions very closely. Do not assume the size because each vendor has their very own sizing. RuffWear and Ultra Paws brand dog shoes use a system of measuring the widest part of the foot in inches or centimeters. Place the dogs foot on a piece of paper and carefully draw a line on each side of the paw. Measure the distance between the lines to find the appropriate size. Be sure to measure the front and back feet because for some breeds there can be a size or more difference.
3. Try the boots on all four feet. Wearing one boot the dog will usually avoid putting any pressure on that foot.
Check the size is correct for all four feet. It is usually better to put the shoes on the dog when he/she is standing. If fitting the dog solo try to put the dog between your legs and stabilize the dog with your knees. You will need both hands to put the booties on the dog.
The boots must be snug. Usually people underestimate the tension necessary to make the boots have a snug grip around the dogs leg. A couple of tests to know if they are going to stay on once you have fitted the dog– Pull on the boots once they are on the dogs feet. If they slip off easily you are sure to lose a boot on the trail unless you can make the straps tighter, or in some cases you have the wrong size. Visually for some dog boots ie. the Bark’N Boots from RuffWear you might see a significant gap behind the dogs foot, this is also a sign that the shoes are not tight enough.
Let the dog walk around in the boots. Initially it might take a little treat bribe to get him on the move. Expect your dog to walk like you have never seen before. It can be an amazing display of athleticism mixed with frustration!
Generally in about five minutes the dog will get used to the awkward feeling of wearing shoes for the first time and begin to walk normally. Larger dogs adapt quicker, super stiff new shoes can also make the process slower.
4. Avoid the poor quality “cheap” boots. You will be stranded with a wounded dog and annoyed that you did not buy the most appropriate boots, and soon shopping for a second set of higher quality dog booties.
5. Take extra care if your dog has dew claws. Sometimes the “thumb” is very poorly positioned for wearing shoes and may influence the size or brand of shoe you can choose. One way to help is using a liner sock that will help to pad the pressure and minimize and rubbing on this sometimes very sensitive claw.
6. Small dogs ie under 18 lbs can be more difficult to select shoes. Especially breeds with really small feet. In many cases we recommend the Ultra Paws brand for theses scenarios because they have a patented soft rubber padding inside the collar of the shoe that make it much easier to get a secure fit, especially on the small dogs. Ultra Paws also has shoes that are slightly more flexible than the Ruffwear brand which makes it easier for the lighter weight dogs to adapt quickly. If you only want to use the shoes for a weekend trip to the mountains and have a small dog the Pawz may be a perfect solution.
7. Try to find an experienced person to assist in showing you how to fit dog shoes and know they are on correctly. This is critical to making the shoes a success. You can buy these shoes and more at dogdogcat.com but if you have the ability to come into the store we can assure you will have a better experience.
The focus here has been primarily on dog shoes designed for active dogs in rough terrain. There are shoes designed for snow, urban environments, hot pavement, wet, slippery, or some for a variety of conditions. Try to learn the pros and cons of each type before you choose.
Ultra paws also makes a shoes that is specifically designed to help older dogs that are struggling to walk on slippery floors like many of us have in our home. They can also double for light duty use outdoors but are not super durable. They are a fleece boots with a grippy rubber pad. They are a huge help to some senior dogs. Occassionely people also use these to protect wood floors, leather seats, protect a wound.
Ultra Paws also makes a boot sold in singles made to protect a wounded foot. It easily fits over a bandage, it is breathable and provides some grip.
Pawz makes our most basic booty which is a disposable boot that looks much like a balloon. Pros are that it is inexpensive, easy to put on, and you get a dozen with each purchase. Cons are they are not very durable and provide limited use.
Neo Paws, and Ruffwear both make a broad selection of boots that are for various types of terrain. Primarily for active dogs and tend to work best on the not so tiny breeds. Ruffwear has a fantastic return policy and a great quality product so if you are not confident that these are going to work well for your dog this may be a great place to start.
Good luck choosing your dog a set of shoes. Please contact us if we can help you make a smart choice.
Dog Dog Cat 530-541-2322
Thank you, George Richter