There’s no doubt that dogs have tough feet – much tougher than your ours, for sure. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t wise (and occasionally necessary) to give your dog’s paws some protection.
The best way to accomplish this is by outfitting your canine companion with a set of high-quality dog shoes, or booties, as they are often called.
There are a gazillion different booties on the market, but most are not very helpful. They’ll either fail to protect your dog’s feet, come off too easily, or frustrate you in countless other ways.
With that in mind, we’ve identified five of the best choices, which should keep your pup’s paws safer and more comfortable during your outdoor adventures.
Most dogs walk around barefoot their whole life without sustaining a major foot injury, so many pet parents wonder just how necessary booties are.
The answer, of course, depends upon whether your dog is likely to step on a sharp stick, trudge through knee-deep snow or cross a lava-hot concrete parking lot. If your dog regularly encounters these types of challenges, then booties are probably necessary.
Booties provide plenty of value for other dogs too, even those whose rowdiest adventures are limited to walks in well-manicured backyards. For example, booties help many dogs – especially older or sick individuals — get traction on slippery floors.
Booties will also help you keep your floors clean, and prevent your pooch from tracking mud, water, or snow into the house after every trip outside. You could also use a paw washer, but that wouldn’t help much with preventing your pup for slipping and sliding.
So, as you can see, while not always strictly necessary, booties are helpful for the majority of dog owners!
To help distinguish good booties from those you’re better off avoiding, you’ll need to consider several different characteristics of the boots in question.
Some of the most important considerations include the following:
You don’t want to walk around wearing the wrong size shoes, so don’t make your dog do it either.
Carefully refer to each manufacturer’s fitting instructions or size guidelines when making your selection – some will require you to trace the outline of your dog’s foot and then measure the drawing to ensure a proper fit.
Getting your dog’s booties on and off of his feet can be a frustrating chore, so it’s always wise to seek out booties that are designed to slip on and slip off easily.
Usually, the best dog booties featuring wide split seams are the easiest ones to get on your pup’s paws.
Most booties rely on straps to ensure a snug fit – boots that lack straps are usually very easy for dogs to remove on their own (something your dog will likely attempt to do). You’ll want to ensure that the straps are easy to operate and of high-quality.
Some straps feature Velcro closures, while others use buckles or snap-locks; any of these will work, although Velcro closures are usually the best and easiest to manage.
Many low-cost booties are made from substandard materials, which will fall apart after only a short period of use, so you’ll always want to be sure that you select boots made from materials befitting your dog’s typical activities.
Additionally, it is important to make sure that the boots are comfortable for your dog’s feet, so give special consideration to those boots with super-soft interiors.
Most good booties should be water-resistant enough to keep your dog’s feet when walking through wet grass for a minute, but only a small number of boots will keep your dog’s feet dry while playing in a creek or trudging through snow for an hour.
Typically boots with greater water resistance will cost more than those that offer less protection, so you’ll want to decide how important water resistance is before making your selection.
Most of the best dog booties feature reflective patches, stripes, or stitching, to help make you more visible to passing motorists. But even if your walks take place miles from the nearest road, reflective booties can make it easier to keep an eye on your pooch, or find him if he runs off.
Be aware that some booties tend to work better for dogs who have intact dew claws than others. However, thanks to the differences in fit between various booties, and the different builds exhibited by dogs, this can be tricky to determine in advance.
The best way to proceed is by reviewing the comments of owners who’ve already tried the model you prefer.
No, your dog does not care what color his booties are, but you may (doesn’t hot pink go with everything?). And while fashion choices aren’t as important as other considerations, there’s no reason you shouldn’t consider the color and pattern of your dog’s boots, after ensuring they are otherwise well-suited for your pooch.
Taking the aforementioned criteria into consideration, it is easy to see why the following five booties are the best of the best.
You’ll still want to be sure to select a set that matches your dog’s needs and your specific circumstances to end up with the best booties available, but any of the ones detailed below would work well for most pooches!
About: Muttluks Fleece-Lined Dog Boots are a great boots that not only protect your dog’s paws and pads, they help keep his little tootsies warm, thanks to the luxurious fleece lining. And to further ensure your dog’s comfort, Muttluks feature an adjustable, stretchy leg cuff.
Sizes: XS through XXL (which fit dogs with paw widths ranging from 1 to 5.25 inches)
About: Made with rugged, anti-slip soles, My Busy Dog Water-Resistant Dog Shoes are made to keep your dog’s feet free of injury and provide stable footing across a variety of terrains.
In addition to being very durable, they are also quite attractive, and marked with colorful and fun accents.
Sizes: Sold in sizes 1 through 8 (which fit dogs with paw widths ranging from 1.5 to 3.25 inches)
About: Canine Equipment Ultimate Trail Boots are designed to keep your dog’s paws clean, dry and safe, without compromising your dog’s comfort in the process. Some of the more effective and good-looking boots on the market, these are a great option for dogs who live to hike, run, and explore.
Sizes: XS through XL (which fit dogs with paw widths ranging from 2 to 3.5 inches)
About: Ultra Paws Durable Dog Boots are designed to keep your dog’s feet dry and safe, and they are especially helpful for giving dogs better traction on slippery hardwood and tile floors.
Unlike many other booties, Ultra Paws Durable Dog Boots are available in a very wide range of sizes, making them appropriate for tiny little toy breeds as well as their gigantic counterparts.
Sizes: Petite through XL (which fit dogs with paw widths ranging from 1 to 4 inches)
About: Ruffwear Grip Trex All Terrain Boots are premium paw protectors that are made for owners and dogs who demand nothing less than the very best.
Specifically designed for the most challenging conditions and terrain, Ruffwear All-Terrain Boots are ideally suited for dogs and owners who like to hike, run, bike, and explore.
Sizes: Sizes vary from 1.5 to 3.25 inches wide
Are you a dog-bootie devotee? We’d love to hear your experiences, whether they involved one of the products detailed above or not. What did you like about them? Did they last as long as you’d hoped? Did your dog mind wearing them? Did they keep his feet warm and protected?
Let us know in the comments below!
Ben is a lifelong environmental educator who writes about animals, trees, outdoor recreation, science and environmental issues. He lives with his beautiful wife and spoiled-rotten Rottweiler in Atlanta, Georgia. Read more by Ben at FootstepsInTheForest.com or @FootstepsForest on Twitter.
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