With fall in full swing and winter on its way you’re probably noticing more and more cold weather attire for your best furry friends. You might be tempted to buy a dog coat in every color, but what about dog boots? Is there really a purpose for them other than to make your dog look cute and walk funny for the first few steps after you put them on?
Does a dog need boots for warmth? While it’s true that Mother Nature did equip dogs with fur coats, she also set them up with a way of keeping those paws from getting too cold as well. Dogs’ paws, similar to duck feet and dolphin flippers, have a counter-current heat exchange system. This system consists of cooler veins surrounding warmer arteries. As the warm blood enters the foot, it is cooled by the veins allowing the temperature to be less in the foot than it is in the core of the body. This lower temperature allows your pup to not feel the cold on their bare feet that way that you do. That being said, every dog is different and some might enjoy their winter outings and be more protected from the weather with a little footwear. Dogs that spend prolonged periods outside or that consistently work in the snow and ice are at risk of frostbite or even getting snow packed between their toes.
Are dog boots only for warmth? Dog boots not only can help protect your pup’s feet from cold, they can also protect them from hot weather burns. Summer months can heat asphalt and sidewalks to dangerously high temperatures and spending any amount of time on those hot surfaces can lead to painful burned pads. Boots provide a barrier of protection against those hot surfaces.
Can boots protect against more than just temperature? Weather aside, boots can also help protect your dog’s feet from scrapes, bumps, bruises that your dog may incur from walking on crusted snow and ice or walking on sticks, rocks, and through brush while hunting or hiking. Boots can also protect your dog’s feet from toxic substances such as snowmelt chemicals and pesticides. Finally, boots may be necessary if your dog’s feet are recovering from an injury or surgery. They can help protect those areas, allowing them to heal more quickly.
How to Choose the Best Boots for Your Dog
The right boots for your dog depends on your pup’s size and activity. There’s no shortage of styles out with the main differences being in the material that the boots are made from and how they stay on your dog’s feet.
- Leather: If you’re looking for boots that will protect your dog’s feet from abrasions, leather is the way to go. These boots are tough enough for your dog to wear all day through the brush, rocks, and brambles. Leather boots typically lace up and tie in order to stay on so they’re not really a boot that’s meant for quick, short uses. These boots are better utilized for dogs that are on the go all day. They also don’t offer much in the way of warmth.
- Plastic: If dryness is what you’re looking for, it doesn’t get much better than plastic. However, if your dog is a foot shaker, you might spend the majority of your outside time putting the boots back on. Most plastic boots slide over the foot and have an elastic strap that snaps or Velcros on. They’re also not very warm, but will keep your dog’s feet dry, clean, and snowball free.
- Nylon: For a fairly water resistant and tough boot, look to nylon. These boots typically have a Velcro strap around the leg to easily adjust the tightness and to secure the boot in place. Nylon offers little warmth but will keep the foot fairly dry and protected.
- Fleece: For protection against extreme cold, dog boots made from polar fleece might be just what your dog is looking for. These boots work well for cold and snow but will get wet fairly quickly and aren’t as durable as other materials.
After the type of material that dog boots are made from, your next options to choose are style and color. Most of these boots come in all imaginable colors and some come in cute styles, like boots that are meant to look like human sneakers. You may also find boots that are a combination of materials such as some with a leather bottom and a knit stocking that goes up the leg or a nylon stocking and rubber sole. When trying to decide which boots are best for your dog just take into consideration how warm and how durable they need to be.
How To Measure Dogs For Boots
Fit is the most important factor that determines how well a boot stays on your dog’s foot. So it’s crucial that you get the right size. Since dog boot sizes aren’t like our boot sizes, you’re going to have to take some measurements. We’ll go through the steps together now, but refer to this quick video for a visual.
- All you need is a piece of paper, pencil, and measuring tape.
- Slip the piece of paper under one of your dog’s front feet. Lift up the other front foot so that full weight is placed on the foot that’s on the paper.
- Holding the pencil straight up and down, mark the widest part of the foot on both sides.
- Set the foot that you’ve been holding up back down and slide the paper out from underneath the other foot.
- Using the tape measure, measure the distance between your two marks.
- Using the number you just measured, refer to the manufacturer’s guide for proper boot size.
- Repeat the process with one of the hind feet as sometimes there can be variation in the size and you might need to get different sized boots for the hind feet than you do the front.
The 10 Best Dog Boots in 2020 – Reviews and Comparison
1. Winsoon Winter Warm Skidproof Sneakers Paw Protectors
If you’re looking for a combination of warmth and style, these are the boots for your small dog. The bottom features a skid-proof rubber sole and the top is made from soft leather with a Velcro strap to keep them on. These boots come sherpa lined to provide warmth in the winter but are cool enough to protect paws in the hot summer months.
Be careful with the sizing however, as the recommended size chart appears to be off. If you have any sizing questions, the company is happy to help you and get the perfect fir for your dog.
2. GGR Outdoor Waterproof and Wearproof Running Shoes for Dogs
For the medium to large size dog on your list, GGR has a boot for you. These antiskid, waterproof sole boots are a great way to keep your dog’s feet clean, dry, and protected. They are also easy to get on and off with a convenient Velcro strap that secures around the leg.
These boots are not waterproof when submerged, only the sole is waterproof. Also, they are tend to run a little big in size and some dogs actually developed blisters from the boot being too loose on the paw. Make sure to properly measure to get the right size.
3. VetGood Oversized Extreme Waterproof & Breathable Dog Boot
This is not your typical everyday boot. This boot by VetGood is a bandage cover. It slips over casts, splints or bandages in order to keep them protected and dry. Most dog owners use this to keep a cast or bandage dry while the dog goes outside to potty. It easily slips on and has Velcro straps to help secure the wrap around the bandage or cast and a drawstring top to cinch around the leg.
These boots are meant to slip over a bandage or cast so they are bigger than the regular hiking, snow or rain boot. Because of this they’re a little more bulky and may bother your dog to wear. They also go up higher on the leg, which again can bother a dog, and have them trying to chew it off. It’s also fairly lightweight and not very durable.
4. Proplums Waterproof Dog Boots, Anti-skid
Another waterproof, antiskid option for medium to large dogs. This boot again features an anti-skid rubber sole with a waterproof fabric that slips over the foot and secures to the leg with a Velcro strap. These boots also feature a reflective strip around the Velcro as an added safety mechanism for dogs out at night. The thick sole helps to protect feet from injury and the waterproof fabric helps to keep them warm and dry.
These waterproof dog boots from Proplums have just the single strap to secure them to the leg which isn’t enough for most dogs. Either the strap isn’t tight enough and the boots fall off, or it’s too tight and it causes blisters on the dog’s foot. They seem to work better for short-term wear rather than all day on the go.
5. Xanday Breathable Dog Boots, Mesh Dog Shoes
For dog boots on the lighter side, these breathable ‘sneakers’ will help give your dog traction and the protection that you want without the weight and bulk of the waterproof version. Xanday Breathable Dog Boots also come with two Velcro straps, instead of one, to better secure them to your dog’s leg, and a reflective band to help make them more visible at night.
Since these boots are breathable, they’re more recommended for spring, fall, and summer as they won’t provide much warmth. They can, however, keep snow from balling up between your dog’s toes, but will get wet through fairly quickly. Again, owners had trouble keeping these boots on their dog’s feet, so it’s important to properly measure length and width of the paw in order to get the most accurate size possible.
6. Ruffwear Grip Trex
Here’s another breathable dog boot option to provide protection for your dog’s paws against rough ground. The Ruffwear Grip Trex features a Vibram sole, which is what many human hiking boots use by the way, to provide protection while still being flexible and lightweight. They are also breathable so that your pup’s paws won’t overheat.
These boots are not a waterproof option and will provide little winter warmth. They also have no lining so they can possibly rub and create blisters on your dog’s foot. Ruffwear recommends that you purchase a separate liner, similar to a sock, to go over the foot first to help prevent blisters, but then you’re dealing with trying to slip two things on your dog’s feet. This makes the boots a little less convenient for those that want to get moving quickly.
7. Expawlorer Waterproof Dog Boots Reflective Non Slip Pet Booties
The Expawlorer is a boot that works for all seasons. The rubber sole provides protection from injury as well as a waterproof base to keep feet dry and warm. These boots also have a two strap closure to better secure them to your dog’s leg and a reflective band to help ensure visibility at night. These boots also work great in the house if your pup struggles with slippery floors.
With a rubber sole like the one on the Expawlorer Waterproof Dog Boots, they tend to be heavy. This means that smaller dogs may struggle with them more. There was also some issues with the fit of the boot and the recommended size chart. Some dogs fit well from side to side but the boot was too big front to back. For questions about the size of the boot, it’s best to contact the company directly.
8. Bark Brite All Weather Neoprene Paw Protector Dog Boots
These dog boots feature a flexible rubber sole to protect against extreme temperatures and sharp objects, but also have a neoprene sleeve that better conforms to your dog’s paw and leg making them less likely to slip off. The neoprene is breathable, yet waterproof, making them ideal for any weather condition or temperature.
However great the neoprene material may be at conforming to the paw for a more secure fit, it lacks in durability. Soft materials like this are no match for dog toenails and many dogs literally walked right through these boots. This also makes them less than ideal for dogs that drag a paw or toe due to an injury.
9. QUMY Dog Boots Waterproof Shoes for Large Dogs
For another waterproof, rubber soled dog boot, Qumy makes one with a two Velcro closure with a reflective band for nighttime safety. These boots work for cold as well as hot weather and work to keep the feet dry and protected from rough surfaces. They’re easy to put on and stay on most feet well.
The soles of these dog boots may be a little too hard if you’re hoping to give your older pup more traction on slippery house floors. Rather than grip this type of surface they can cause your dog to slide out. They do provide better traction on outdoor surfaces, though.
10. My Busy Dog Water Resistant Dog Shoes with Two Reflective Fastening Straps
These boots from My Busy Dog fits a variety of dog paws, from Pomeranians to German Shepherds. Their rubber sole provides protection from rough surfaces as well as hot and cold temperatures. The waterproof fabric will also keep your dog’s feet dry and clean when in the rain and snow. The dual strap closure will help keep them on your dog’s feet while still being easy to get the boots on.
The waterproof material that makes up these boots can be rough on your dog’s skin. Several pups developed blisters after wearing these boots for only a short period of time. It’s important to make sure to get the sizing right on these boots to avoid sores. With the wide range of sizes, you should be able to find one that fits your dog.
How to Put Boots on Your Dog
It’s best to put boots on while your dog is standing so that you know they are fastened properly. Open the boot as wide as you can by unstrapping the Velcro, snap or whatever closure is around the top of the boot. Place your dog’s foot into the boot being mindful of the dewclaw to make sure that it is facing the proper direction. Make sure that the foot slides all the way to the front of the boot by gently squeezing the outside of the toe of the boot and feeling your dog’s toes at the end. Tuck in all fur and snuggly secure the strap around the leg.
How to Get Your Dog Used to Putting on Boots
Now that you’ve selected a set of boots for your dog, it’s time to put them on. Believe it or not, most dogs aren’t going to take kindly to their new boots the first time or even the 50th time that you put them on. Doing a little prep work and going about it slowly will help get your dog used to wearing boots.
- Let them love it: Before you ever try slipping a boot on your dog’s foot, let them get used to it. Show your dog the boots, let them sniff, lick, and even play with them. Reward your dog for showing interest in the boots. This process may take several days, but you want to make sure your dog isn’t scared of the boots before you move onto the next step.
- Touch the foot: Get your dog used to you touching their feet. This may sound like no big deal, but some dogs have real problems with having their feet touched, especially if they’ve had a traumatic toe nail trim. Make sure they’re okay with you touching their feet and then just gently touch the boot to their feet. You don’t need to slip it on the foot yet, just get them comfortable with the touch of the boots. Again, reward for good behavior.
- On for a second: Now it’s time to actually get your dog’s foot into the boots. Slip one on, just for a second, and then slip it off. Do this with all four feet individually. Give treats each time you slip it off. Repeat until your dog is a pro.
- Increase, increase, increase: Gradually up the amount of time that your dog’s foot is in the boot until they’re happy to wear them around. You can start with only one boot on, or if your dog is comfortable, go for all four at once. Allow them to wear the boots around for several minutes and then take them off. Repeat as necessary until they’re ready for the long haul.
It’s important to really take your time with this process. Don’t buy dog boots and expect your dog to wear them perfectly the next day. Also, if your dog is upset or stressed by any of the above steps, just go back and repeat the previous step until their anxiety has subsided and remember to reward good behavior like crazy.
FAQs About Dog Boots
There are many questions surrounding dog boots: are they necessary, how do you choose, and how do you get your dog to wear them? Dog boots aren’t meant for every dog, but they could be very beneficial for some. Those dogs that are constantly in extreme cold or heat or are prone to injured pads would be great ones to sport a set of boots. They also work great to keep those feet clean and dry on quick potty trips on rainy or snowy days. Before trying out any dog boots on your dog, be sure they’re on board and make them comfortable by taking it slow and making it fun. Also, don’t forget to reward!