Earlier this summer, my mom and I fetched an inner tube and spent a lazy afternoon floating down a cool river. Others brought their dogs, too, whether they were ace swimmers or not. Those that weren’t big on swimming stayed in their tubes, outfitted in life jackets and dog shoes.
Wait … what?
Yes, dog shoes.
It got me thinking: Are dog shoes really necessary? Most dogs walk around barefoot their whole lives without sustaining a major foot injury. It’s not like they’re scaling mountains or trotting on hot cement on the regular. A typical daily routine includes variations on sleeping on soft blankets, sprawling out on wet grass, and anxiously waiting for their human to come home. However, there are several situations when dog shoes may be a good idea.
The need for rugged outdoor footwear is determined by the odds of your dog stepping on sharp sticks or rocks, slogging through belly-deep snow or hopping over a lava-hot parking lot. Booties help shield paws from dangerous objects on trails—or steaming beach sand—and keep feet pads protected from a blistering sun or cold winter ground.
What’s more, dog shoes can help older or injured dogs get around. That’s because footwear raises the level of comfort and support for dogs with bad hips, painful knees, and paws that need protection. They also provide better traction on slippery surfaces, which helps prevent accidents.
Boots also help protect injured or infected paws. Some dogs have cracked or damaged nails, ripped pads—even yeast infections of the paw.
Beyond protecting pups’ paws, booties may keep your floors clean, and thwart your woofer from tracking mud and water inside.
I’m not throwing on my classic Chucks so I can walk along the river or step outside to pee, but I know my paw pads aren’t magical. Any pup’s pads would benefit from occasional protection. The best way to accomplish this is by outfitting my feet with a set of high-quality dog shoes. (Four in a set, ya know.)
When you decide Trotskie needs shoes, you’re in luck—there are many bootie styles designed to fit your dog’s needs. For many dog owners, getting ones to stay on is a real challenge. The answer? Find a bootie flexible enough for comfort, but sturdy enough to support on a hard-hitting hike through rocky terrain—or just a skitter across hardwood floors.
It might take some patient training to get your dog to wear them. Your pup knows booties feel awkward and make him look like a canine dweeb. Choosing the right pair and using positive reinforcement will help him adjust to his new kicks. Put the shoes on him for short intervals just puttering around the house, then work up to going outside for longer times.
So, contrary to what many might’ve thought, dog shoes aren’t just for the working-class canine. They’re for dogs braving the wilderness as well as those whose rowdiest adventures are walks on well-manicured gardens. Booties are truly a functional item to help protect your dog’s feet and get him back on his paws. And they let both of y’all spend more time together.