“My dog wears shoes!” sounds like a punchline from an early 2000s comedy. At first glance, the concept of a dog wearing shoes seems slightly silly. The topic has been a source of debate and jest for a while now.
However, what do the facts say? Is there a good reason that your dog should be wearing dog shoes? And if the answer is yes, when should they be wearing shoes?
Dog Paw Pads Are Tough…But Not That Tough
Unlike human feet, your dog’s paw pads are tough and strong. They are a mix of tendons, fat, keratin, and collagen, and they act as shock absorbers, support bones and ligaments, and protect your dog’s feet.
These paw pads allow them to remain comfortable on much rougher and harsher terrain than a barefoot human can handle. Dog paws also act as an important part of a dog’s ability to regulate its body temperature and get rid of excess heat.
But these paw pads are not indestructible. At the end of the day, it's still skin and can get injured by objects and harsh temperatures.
Some people claim that dogs cannot feel the temperature on their paws.
This is absolutely untrue . Even though paw pads are thicker and tougher than human skin, they have a large number of nerve endings, and extreme temperatures can be felt - and cause pain - on your dog’s feet.
Some dogs, such as Huskies and Akitas, have paws that can stand cold weather and frozen surfaces a bit better. However, all dogs are susceptible to frostbite, and prolonged exposure to cold surfaces can cause paw pads to chap and crack. .
Some cities also use chemical agents to melt ice on sidewalks. These agents can cause irritation and burns on your dog’s feet. When they stop to lick this irritation, they’re also at risk of getting poisoned by these agents.
Wearing dog boots will help make winter more comfortable for them and reduce the amount of mud they bring into the house.
If you live in a hot area, your dog is at risk of developing paw pad burns on their feet.
In some areas, hot surfaces, such as concrete, sand, and rock, can reach temperatures as high as 145 degrees! On a roasting hot pavement that is hot enough to cook an egg. This can easily cause extreme discomfort and damage to your dog’s paws.
With extremely hot temperatures on the rise globally, dogs are just not naturally equipped to deal with such extreme weather. Especially when they live in areas where they aren’t walking on natural ground.
Dog boots may not be ‘natural,’ but neither are the circumstances that dogs are finding themselves in.
A good way to test the safety of a surface is the Seven Second Rule. If you can touch a surface for seven seconds without needing to pull your hand away - the surface is safe. If you do need to pull away - the surface is too hot for your dog’s bare paws.
Taking your furry friend on a walk or hiking through nature can be a lot of fun. It can be a fun bonding opportunity and a good source of exercise.
However, some terrain can be hazardous for your dog’s paws. We already talked about hot and cold terrain, but areas with lots of small, sharp stones or thorns could easily become lodged in your dog’s paws or irritate them.
A sturdy pair of dog boots can also offer some support and grip if you are going to be walking on wet or slippery terrain.
Age and Health
Dog’s paws tend to become tougher as they age. But young dogs and puppies’ paws may still be too delicate and soft for temperatures and terrains that older dogs can handle.
These pads will grow stronger the more they walk on rougher surfaces, but if you have a big challenge in mind, then it may be a good idea to opt for some dog shoes.
Dog boots can also offer a lot of benefits to older dogs, offering them orthopedic support as well as allowing them to grip surfaces better. Some older dogs may also start dragging their feet across the ground. This can cause damage, calluses, or even cracks in the pad that can lead to infections.
Remember, scar tissue and wounds that are still pink cannot handle the same amount of wear and tear. If your dog has had surgery, lost a toenail, or was recently injured, then they may need to wear dog shoes to protect their healing paw pads.
Dog boots can also keep bandages clean and can act as a deterrent to prevent your dog from licking stitches or ointment off of their paws.
Occasionally, the need to wear shoes may arise because a dog has an allergy to grass, pollen, or mold.
Dog boots will prevent them from getting contact dermatitis (A rash caused by touching an allergy-causing surface) on their paws and may also prevent them from licking harmful agents or allergens off their feet later.
Is There a Downside To Wearing Dog Shoes?
Not really, but wearing them too long is not good for your dog.
Dogs' paws are meant to be slightly rough. Constantly wearing dog boots may cause their paw pads to become too soft. This can actually make the paw pad more susceptible to damage when the dog encounters a rough surface later.
Excessive use of dog boots can be bad. Dogs get rid of a lot of heat through their paws, so badly made dog booties that aren't breathable can overheat them. Even good quality shoes can become hot and sweaty and should not be worn all the time.
Ill-fitting dog boots can also be uncomfortable . A Dog shoe should never cause chafing or, worse, restrict blood flow. Always make sure that your dog booties are well-fitting and comfortable.
Some dogs just don’t enjoy boots. They can take a bit of getting used to, so don’t give up too quickly, but if it's causing a lot of distress for your dog, then it might be better to look for another option.
Can I Overcome These Challenges?
Like all doggy clothing, dog boots should be used responsibly and in moderation. If your dog has a safe space to roam, then it's best to take the shoes off when at home.
Always make sure that you are buying a quality product. Poorly made shoes, or those made of non-breathable materials, can cause a lot of trouble. Always check the reviews before purchasing. An adjustable boot is normally better than a slip-on.
Try to get your dog used to shoes when they’re still young. Treats and other positive reinforcement can also make shoe-wearing a more comfortable experience.
Should dogs wear shoes?
Dogs don’t have the same requirements as humans, but they can still get hurt by hot and cold surfaces, as well as rough terrain. Dog boots can protect dogs from burns, allergies, frostbite, and chafed paws.
Therefore, a dog shoe is an excellent tool to ensure the safety and health of your pet. However, they should be used only when necessary.
A good dog shoe should be comfortable, durable, and breathable.
We love our dogs. This is why it's a good idea to keep a pair of shoes on hand, you never know when you may need them, especially in a rapidly changing world.
We at Sparkpaws want to keep dogs as safe as possible. This is why we offer a wide range of adjustable, breathable dog boots in a variety of stylish colors. All of our soles offer good grip and come with a wide top for all shapes and sizes.