True story: My last dog constantly slipped and slid on our hardwood floors. In the bathroom, she slid on the tiles. We kept her nails short, and the hair trimmed between her pads, but she would slide anyway. It was pitiful to watch her walk gingerly through the house, all the while trying to maintain her balance as one paw or the other slid out from under her. Our whole house was hardwood floors and tile! She seemed to bypass the throw-rugs we put down for her. She was an older girl and we feared she would hurt herself so, in hopes of providing traction, we got her some rubber booties…. and Super Dog was born! Haley had a whole new lease on life! She ran through the house like a banshee! She was fearless. It was all fun and games until she leaped from a high porch during one of her Super Dog episodes, and tumbled perilously out into the yard. (BTW, she recovered well, but quickly realized her limitations as a super hero.)
The GOOD news is that the booties worked! They definitely did what we expected them to do. Traction is not the only reason for booties, and rubber is not the only kind of booties you can get for your dog. You can purchase anything from a plain rubber “sock” (seriously looks like a little balloon that you slip up over their ankle) (do dogs have ankles?) to high-quality, stitched leather hiking boots.
Fact – Dogs Are Cute in Booties
Have you ever seen a dog in booties? Oh, there is nothing cuter… especially when you first put them on and your dog high-steps around the house like a little majorette. Some dogs adjust easily, but it takes a while for most dogs to get used to having something on their feet. You’ll be lucky if they keep all 4 booties on too… Before the demise of Super-dog, we would often see Haley running around with only 2 or 3 booties on. A dog’s foot just doesn’t have the contours that human feet have, making it more difficult to keep shoes or booties on their feet. In fact, the shape of their feet pretty much promotes the southern migration of anything affixed thereto!
Aside from traction, what other needs would your dog have that would cause you to buy him his own booties?
When to Use Dog Booties
Hot Summer Surfaces
I’m sure you’ve been to the beach when the sand was literally so scorching hot that you could not walk in it without shoes. Inevitably, you’ll see someone walk their dog through that hot sand without considering what it feels like their dog’s paws. There was a study done to calculate just how hot the sand gets and it was found that darker sand, which absorbs more heat, can climb as high as 154 degrees! Hot sand, hot pavement, boat docks, and other surfaces that absorb the sun’s heat over a long period of time can cause your dog’s feet to blister. The right pair of booties for summer would most certainly provide protection. They even sell dog sandals (cutest thing EVER) to protect the bottom of the paws without the warmth that a full bootie might bring.
Harsh Winter Weather
My guess is that exposure to snow and ice is the number one reason someone buys their dog paw protection in the form of booties. The reasons are three-fold.:
- 1) Haley was a long-haired dog. When she would play out in the snow, she’d come back inside with 4 snow-balls attached to her legs where her paws used to be. Long hair is a magnet for snow and ice. Ice crystals and packed snow between a dog’s pads can be painful. Booties are a great solution to snow-ball paws.
- 2) Sharp, icy surfaces. Have you ever watched the Iditarod races? Those racing husky’s all have booties on their feet. I know…It’s adorable, right? But they serve a higher purpose than just looking cute… Ice can be like glass. Icy terrains are sharp and can actually cut their little paws. It’s imperative that the handlers keep their champion sled team’s feet healthy.
- 3) So you have a short haired dog and you’re not a musher… What other reason could you possibly have to put booties on your dog? It’s snowing; your roads and walkways have been treated; and now you and Fido are out for a walk. Fido starts limping. You checked, and there is nothing lodged in between his pads, but they look irritated. Guess what? He may have a chemical burn from the industrial salt used to de-ice. Most industrial ice melting products are a skin irritant. Check out the warnings on the label the next time you are at the hardware store. These chemicals can cause Fido’s paws to dry-out, crack and even burn. What’s worse is that Fido’s first line of defense is to lick the nasty stuff off of his paws…then he ingests it and it makes him sick! Booties to the rescue!
By the way, this is a good time to mention that the Holiday Barn Pet Resorts Doggie Spa offers a restorative Paw treatment for your dog. As we’ve discussed, doggie paws can take a beating. A little pampering would be a sweet treat for your 4-legged friend. We use a healing, oil rich spray to sooth dry skin and hydrate the cells. Our paw treatment will help restore dry, cracked and damaged paw pads back to a healthy, well-nourished state. Also, on all grooming visits, we trim the hair around and underneath the paws. That will keep your dog’s feet good and clean and prevent him from getting things stuck between his pads and dragging in snow, dirt, germs, etc., with all that straggly hair.
Now, before you rush out and buy our dog the latest in dog bootie couture, let’s talk about our dog’s cute little paws. We can’t compare what their feet can tolerate to what our feet can tolerate. Whereas our feet are very tender, the pads on a dog’s paw are thick and tough, like a heavy leather. In cold weather, a dog’s unique circulatory system provides better circulation to their limbs and extremities. They maintain a higher body temperature and metabolism. Thus, their feet are warmer. In hot weather, the pads help to protect and insulate. Dogs are definitely equipped to adapt to their natural environment, so what’s the big deal?
The big deal is the word “adapt”. Just because a dog’s body has been equipped to adapt, doesn’t mean they can just do it off-the-cuff. Here’s the thing…. we keep Fifi in our comfortable, heated and air-conditioned, cushy-carpeted, house. She goes out for short periods of time to potty in the grass. Then suddenly we take her out in the blistering sun or below zero ice and cold and expect her natural defenses to kick in. She has not had a chance to adapt, or “acclimate” to that type of exposure. First of all, no dog’s paws are fit for extreme conditions, even with proper acclimation (i.e., sled dogs). But many of our domesticated dogs have not been properly conditioned to even the slightest exposure to heat, cold, and rugged terrain. If we keep our dogs indoors and do not expose them on a regular basis to cold and heat, we cannot expect their feet to have the same tolerance and hardiness as that of a dog who is accustomed to being outdoors. It’s kind of like exercising… we cannot go from a normally sedentary lifestyle to running a marathon. We have to condition our body for that type of physical endurance.
The last reason someone might want booties for a dog…and this may be a stretch… but if your dog is an obsessive paw licker and you want to cover those paws so that they can heal, soft booties may be your answer. That is, until he licks the booties off, right? Of course, in this case, better check with your vet… it may be best to let your dog’s irritated feet breathe than to wrap them up.
So there ya go. More than you ever thought you needed to know about dog booties, right? I leave you with this!