Raja and I live in a part of the world where we get seasons, so winter is often rough on his intrepid paws. And we trek all over the world, in all sorts of weather. Trouble is, the paws of my furry Shih Tzu bear the brunt of his adventures — so I lace him up in boots. When the going gets tough, the toughest paws suit up and head out into the thick of it.
Boots also mean big fun is on its way, so Raja does a happy little jig when I pull them out of the closet. Boots mean that we’re going places!
Some say dogs don’t need boots. Oh, but dogs do. Crossing the finish line at the famous Alaskan sled dog race the Iditarod, as well as transporting supplies for scientists and explorers in the Arctic, all the wild and wooly dogs of snow and slush wear boots. Rescue dogs often wear boots to protect their valuable pads in rough terrain. Boots also prevent cracking in the callouses of the pads and keep feet clean. Your dog, stepping out on a blustery day in January on icy cold slushy streets, deserves foot care, too.
Look at it this way: Human beings don’t need boots either. Cave people didn’t have boots. Of course, their average life spans were perhaps 16 years. As we human beings have learned, anything that keeps us comfortable makes our lives longer and better. The same should go for dogs.
Here’s a recent video of Raja wearing his boots in the snow:
But you can’t go out and buy just any boots. There some criteria:
- The boot material should be water resistant and the fabric of the sole should be textured and fairly rugged.
- Make sure the sole is designed so it bends upwards, creating a sole and an ankle piece (except in the case of flexible rubber boots designed only to cover the foot).
- Ensure a proper fit by following the manufacturers’ size guidelines. Foot sizes vary breed to breed and individual to individual. Boots that are too big or too small will not work.
Raja’s favorite light boots are the Pawz disposable booties. They are great for rain, light snow, and salty and filthy streets. They come 12 to a pack. Eventually they will wear out, but each little boot can go miles and miles before it tears. Pawz are not for hot weather because while they keep the foot very dry, they do not breathe.
His other favorites are the Neo-Paws Performance boots and the Neo-Paws Summer boots. The Performance boots are for snow and slush in winter. They grip to prevent slipping and protect the foot against the elements. The Summer boots help a whole lot when walking on hot asphalt, where the road surface temperature can be 20 degrees higher than the air temperature. Both boots have pitched soles that roll as your dog walks, allowing the metatarsals to land flat and roll frontwards.
Now, maybe you’re thinking your dog won’t like boots and they’ll be hard to put on. Here’s some guidelines and tips to putting boots on your dog:
- These are the hardest to get on, but the easiest for dogs to adapt to.
- Sit your dog on your lap, back to your chest, and wiggle the boots on exactly the same way as you would put socks on a toddler. There will be squirming. There will be floppy feet and limp ankles. Don’t give up. If you can put socks on a child, you can put boots on a dog.
- Make sure you work the claws all the way forward into the toe, and make sure you have not rammed a toe in at a peculiar angle.
- Make sure the boot covers the bottom pad of the foot and doesn’t just cling to the toes.
For the Performance and Summer Boots, you may simply stand and bend over to insert your dog’s foot. The Neo-Paws website has a great video showing you how to do it, but I do confess, since Raja is small, I just sit him in my lap and modify the wiggly toddler method.
Now is the moment of truth. Put your dog down outside, give him a treat, and watch him trot. If he walks “funny” at first, do not indulge him. Walk on and say something like, “You can really chase squirrels in those shoes, Fluffy.” Paws boots have a high success rate.
Dog boots guard against injury and damage and make it safe and easy for your dog to be an all-terrain dog in any season. But I understand you might still be skeptical. I certainly was in the beginning. Let me tell you a story.
I never imagined Raja would ever wear boots, but one day we were at an industry trade show, and a Paws representative saw us perusing the aisles. The salesman called out, “Your dog will love these boots!” I fired back, “Raja hates boots!” Game on! The salesman fitted a complementary pair on him, and, before I could begin to complain, Raja was trotting happily down the aisle in his new shoes. For the remainder of the show, Raja was a Paws ambassador because he actually liked the shoes (possibly he also liked all the attention he got).
Now it’s time for Raja to boot up and hit the slush!