Dog boots: Everything you need to know

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helloBARK! staff
By helloBARK! staff
Updated on August 27, 2020
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You’ll probably have seen a funny video of dogs wearing boots online.

Naturally, your first instinct may be to chuckle at their little dance before you start to wonder why a dog needs to wear boots.

When my Alaskan Klee Kai Copper and Skye went viral wearing dog boots in February 2019, our Instagram was inundated with comments and questions.

Some people were genuinely interested to learn why dogs required boots, but other users felt that we were being cruel to Copper and Skye.

Copper and Skye wore the boots to protect their paws from snowmelt chemicals during a cold snap in London shortly after moving from California.

I spoke to Ruffwear to learn more about the importance of dog boots, how to find the right footwear for your canine and how long it takes for pups to adjust to their boots.

1) Why were dog boots initially created?

Ruffwear’s dog boots were created to provide everyday traction and paw protection from extreme temperatures, abrasive surfaces, and salt or other snowmelt chemicals. The boots were made to help dogs with grip and traction on loose, rocky terrain, on ice and snow, and other wet or slick surfaces. They protect paws from hot pavements, coarse, rocky trails, clumpy snow, salt and snowmelt chemicals. Not only will the boots keep your dog’s paws in good shape, they can protect against nuisances such as crab grass, foxtails, stinging nettles, and snowballs.

2) Why are dog boots helpful for both dogs and dog owners?

There are major advantages to protecting your dog’s feet, boots prevent injury from over-exertion, new terrain, hot surfaces, and sharp rocks. If your dog has ever had a paw injury on the trail, you know that carrying a dog back to the trailhead is no fun, so preventive paw wear should always be a consideration.

When owners increase the number and duration of their activities, dogs are often not conditioned to do the same. Ruffwear’s dog boots will allow dogs to go further and longer on unusual terrain that unprotected dog paws are not equipped to handle, enhancing activity for owners and dogs.

3) What situations should a dog owner consider using dog boots?

Dog boots can help prevent from a variety of injuries that can be accrued from the surfaces we walk and run on. Owners that want to take their dog trail running or walking, rocks, roots, mud, snow or ice can be torturous for dog’s paws. Generally, dogs’ paws become conditioned to run on familiar surfaces after a few weeks, but if you’re taking your dog on new terrain and changing environmental conditions this can cause stone bruising, cuts and blistered pads so we would suggest considering dog boots if you want to protect your pooch’s paws.

4) What are the potential risks of dicing chemicals or salt on pavements for dogs?

Ruffwear Grip Trex boots (Photo: Ruffwear)

Ruffwear Grip Trex boots (Photo: Ruffwear)

In general, dog boots provide a good protective barrier from ice, snow, salts, and chemicals that are used on pavement to melt snow and ice. The rock salt granules used for snowmelt can get trapped up against paw pads and cause irritation.

Without boots, a dog’s paw (especially those with longer fur) can get packed with snow and ice. It can cause cold and irritation, so you may see your dog keep their paw lifted and not want to use it. It’s a good idea to regularly check for and remove packed snow or ice that may be accumulating in their paws throughout your activity. If you don’t, it could lead to some common cold-weather paw injuries, including blistered or cracked paw pads and frostbite.

5) What are the potential risks of hot pavement in the summer?

Pavements come in thousands of textures and can be extremely abrasive when they’re hot, burning a dog’s paw pads which can be extremely painful. Dog boots are a great idea during the summer months to protect paws and prevent pads from burning and tearing.

6) Do you have any tips for using dog boots for the first time?

For most dogs footwear is a new concept. The first time your dog tries on a pair of dog boots it will be difficult not to laugh, as the dog will do a little dance, this is normal. Once you have the boots in place go out and engage in your pup’s favourite activity, chasing a ball, catching, flying disk or just running. After about 15 minutes, double-check the closure on the boots and adjust. This is considered the “break in” period where the nylon upper softens and conforms to the dog’s paws. After the break in period you and your buddy are ready to explore. Use common sense and allow some time for your dog to become accustomed to the booties on daily walks. Just as you would never go out on a big hike with new hiking boots, start off on easy hikes and work into the big ones with your dog’s new footwear.

7) Why do dogs walk weird in boots (for the first couple of times)?

The famous “boot dance”, the paw shaking and high stepping dance. If this happens owners shouldn’t be alarmed because it’s normal behaviour, it will probably be the first time your dog has ever had something on their paws, and just like humans have a break-in period for their shoes, dogs do too! Dogs will need to build up a tolerance to the boots just like human shoes.

8) How do you know what kind of boots to get for your dog?

Ruffwear offer a variety of different dog boots to protect paws and it’s dependent on what sort of activities people are getting up to with their four-legged best friend.

Ruffwear’s Summit Trex™ dog boots provide everyday traction and paw protection from extreme temperatures, abrasive surfaces, and salt or other snowmelt chemicals. Moisture and debris stay out via weather-resistant ripstop upper.

The Ruffwear Grip Trex™ dog boots set the standard in paw wear for dogs who hike, bike, run or explore the great outdoors with their owners. These high-performance boots feature a rugged and resilient Ruffwear-designed Vibram® outsole that provides exceptional traction on varied terrain. Breathable mesh upper provides ventilation and keeps dirt and debris out. Closure system combines hook-and-loop with hardware, cinching around the narrowest part of the dog’s leg to provide a secure fit.

Ruffwear Polar Trex™ dog boots are designed for warmth, traction, and protection in winter conditions. Insulated upper softshell fabric creates breathable, weatherproof warmth in extreme cold and inclement weather. Ruffwear-designed Vibram® outsole provides optimum traction on frozen surfaces.

To make sure you get the right fit for your dog, Ruffwear have a paw measurement guide for each boot on the website and on YouTube.

9) How have the boots been designed to ensure comfort for the dogs?

Ruffwear Summit Trex boots (Photo: Ruffwear)

Ruffwear Summit Trex boots (Photo: Ruffwear)

Each Ruffwear-designed dog boot provides flexible traction and a hook-and-loop ankle closure system to create a secure and comfortable fit.

Just as you would with your gear, adjust fit and check tension of boots 15 minutes into your activity and throughout the adventure as needed.

10) How many dog boots are sold every year?

Ruffwear sell tens of thousands of pairs a year.

11) Do you find a particular breed or type of dog needs boots more?

No, Ruffwear boots can be for any breed. The boots are designed for paw protection, each boot is designed with features geared towards assisting different environments. As long as you measure your dog’s paw correctly with our guide to find out the correct size for the dog then this will ensure that the fit is right for the dog.

12) How long do dog boots last?

Just like human footwear this can completely depend on the activity that the dog is using the boots for and the terrain they are walking on. If they were to be using the boots for everyday use on a pavement then this would tend to last longer than trail running on an abrasive rock surface, but it can be completely depending on the type of activity and the dog itself.

14) What would you say to someone who says using dog boots is cruel to the dog?

Ruffwear dog boots provide valuable protection of dogs paws either from the environment or when recovering from injury e.g a cut pad etc, enabling the dog to be active. It is cruel not to provide protection when the dog needs it.

For more information and to buy: ruffwear.co.uk