Keeping Your Dog Warm in Winter

Dog BootiesYou and your dog do not have to hibernate in the winter, even if you live somewhere where it snows often. A stretch and some fresh air are good for you both, even in the cold. But your pup hair and paws might not be enough to keep him warm on even a quick walk. Well just as you don a coat and boots, your dog can do the same and have a great comfortable walk. Of course, it depends on your dog’s tolerance and how much you get outside, but dog booties are a small investment to make for winter safety and for having a little winter fun.

We looked at dog coats and jackets in another article. Let look at the need for boots.

Why Should a Dog Wear Boots?

I admit I used to think dog booties were silly. Then cold winter day I had to carry my dog home half a block because he just would not walk. I was not sensitive to the fact, that even though he initially wanted to walk, it was just too cold. As the owner, I realized needed to know better and protect my dog. Dog snow boots aren’t just an accessory for spoiled pooches; they can serve very practical purposes as well.

  • Cold and icy pavement and ground may be painful after a while.
  • Icy pavement or ground can cause a dog to slip and possibly hurt himself.
  • Chemical de-icers laid on the ground can irritate paws, making them sore and the de-icers can also be toxic.
  • Dogs paws can suffer from chapping and cuts on rough ice and hard snow.
  • Ice balls that form between the toes from the snow can irritate. Note: if you don’t yet have booties, trim any hair between your pup’s toes to prevent ice balls. Add a tiny bit of petroleum or olive oil between toes and on paw pads before going out to repel snow.
What to Look for in Dog Booties

Well-made dog booties keep your pup’s paws warm and dry as well as protect them from salt and chemical de-icers used on sidewalks and roads. Look for dog snow boots that:

  • Fit snugly but not tightly. Good boots are made of material that has a little stretch to make sure they fit.
  • Are waterproof.
  • Provide traction on slippery sidewalks and roads.
  • Slip onto the dog’s foot with relative ease, and don’t slip off until you want it to. Velcro is a favorite for this.
  • Have cuffs that stretch high up on the leg for support and warmth.
  • Hug the ankle joint securely without rubbing, constricting blood flow, or being annoying. Dogs don’t have ankles, so keeping a boot on can be a challenge.
  • Are of sturdy construction especially for active dogs.
Lining Or No Lining?

This really depends on what your dog does and how cold he may get. Some boots are completely lined on the sides and the bottom. Some may have lining on the sides and no padding on the bottom. Some don’t have lining at all.

If your dog is active in the snow (he runs and plays, or maybe you do winter dog sports) you might opt for a boot with no padding on the bottom. He probably already has a higher tolerance for cold and no padding makes it easier for your dog to feel the ground so he can be sure of his footing and move more naturally.

For dogs who just takes casual walks and your streets get pretty snowy or icy, boots with lining throughout may be more comfortable. If you go with lining, make sure it is a warm one like fleece.

Getting the Size Right

Just like if you wore the wrong size shoe; if you buy dog boots that are the wrong size your dog will not be happy. Not only will he be uncomfortable, but we will not be able to walk or run well.

If you are ordering online, carefully check the size chart for that particular dog shoe (here’s an example from Petsmart). Some pages even include a paw print image chart that you need to print to help you pick the right size.If the chart specifies the length and width of the paw in relation to the sizes, do take the time to accurately measure your dog’s paw.  When measuring, unless you get other instructions, measure the entire part of the paw that touches the floor – from the back paw pad to the edge of the toenail (some manufacturers will only have you measure up to the tip of toe without toenail). Can’t get him to stand still? Wet his paw them press it on a piece of blank paper and measure that instead.

If your dog’s shoe size falls in between two different sizes, get the larger; too tight will be uncomfortable and a sure way to get your dog to reject the boots.

Well-Reviewed Boots
Muttluks   Popular and well-reviewed, durable, waterproof, heavy fleece in ankle, velcro straps, soft and stretchy material DogPaws   For serious winter dog play, well insulated, waterproof, superb traction, takes a little time at first to fit well on your dogs
Ultra Paws Durable Dog Boot   Really more for light protection–casual walks. Less expensive, not form fitting but easy to put on, rubber but not stiff sole. Pawz Blue Water-Proof Dog Boot   Not sure about boots, try disposable. Easy to put on, stay on but may be too snug, light protection–no insulation but dog can feel the ground for good footing, don’t last long, inexpensive, not a breathable material so may have sweaty paws.
Getting Those Booties on Your Dog’s Paws

For a dog that is not used to footwear, you want to try out her new snow dog shoes in the house before you go out.

Dogs don’t understand the notion of pushing the foot down into the boot. Take your time the first time, without stress so it is not an unpleasant experience for the dog. It is already going to be weird for him at first. With practice, you will get better at getting the boots on quickly. You will also want to be sure your dog’s nails are trimmed to ensure the most comfortable fit.

Getting Used to Dog Boots

The first few times you get them on, you may not get a happy reaction from your pooch. In fact, you may get quite the opposite. He is not likely to walk really well in them at all.  These new things on their feet may cause a bunch of weird (and very funny) behaviors from mule kicking to shaking to tap-dancing. Just give it time and let them get used to it.

On your first few walks, and from time to time, you may have to readjust the bootstraps a couple of times until you get them snug enough to stay on. You don’t want to be looking for a lost boot in deep snow!

Keep in mind that dogs cool themselves by perspiring through their pads. If your dog is really active in the snow, take breaks and remove the boots from time to time to prevent overheating and do not have your dog wear dog snow boots in warm weather. There are lighter booties for dogs if you think your dog needs them for rough terrain in the summer, though, like maybe for hikes.

Soon your dog will get used to their new dog snow boots. So bundle up, put those dog booties on and take that walk or play in the snow.