Dog Boots provide the best protection for your dog’s paws. Not all boots are the same. Dog boot design varies based on terrain use, weather and health needs.
In this gear guide, we give you information on what to look for in boots so you can find the best boot for your dog any season of the year.
Today’s boots for dogs are far from a fashion statement. It’s a great option for active dogs. First, boots keep your dog’s paws clean and dry. They also protect against deicers and chemicals on the ground, hot and cold temperatures, ice, thorns, rocks, and sand. Last, boots give your dog better traction on slippery or rough terrain.
Pawtivity’s Gear Guides are here to help you learn how you can pick the best gear for your dog. Instead of reading specific reviews of branded products, it’s useful to get an overview first of general features to look out for when choosing the best gear for your dog by fit and use.
BEST FEATURES IN BOOTS
There is no perfect boot because the fit and need for each dog is different. If we were to look for the perfect boot we would look for the following features:
Waterproof Upper Material – This is an important feature in the winter, for rain, and if you are traveling through wet terrain such as rivers and streams. Make sure you find a waterproof fabric with waterproof seams. You want something to keep your dog’s paws dry or they may get cold. It’s nice to have something breathable in the summer since dogs can get sweaty paws, but if you only have one boot we think most would do better year-round with a waterproof boot. You can always give your dog a break and cool down those sweaty paws by taking those shoes off for a bit!
Thick, Non-Slip Rubber Soles – Good traction is important when navigating through slippery and rough terrain. Some of the best soles with traction come with a patterned sole.
Velcro Straps – You don’t want boots to fall off so it’s best to get a boot that comes with velcro straps that keep a boot on your dog and something your dog will have a hard time taking off. Make sure straps are sewn into the shoe well.
Waterproof or Water-Resistant – Top of the line dog boots are usually waterproof or water-resistant. These boots provide the most protection in any weather.
Fabric – There are a lot of fabrics that are used to make dog boots and dog shoes. The best is to go with something durable and flexible to provide a comfortable fit for your dog’s paws. Preferences for fabric material may vary based on the season or activity use.
- Rubber or Silicone – Rubber or silicone material are used for lightweight boots and shoes that provide ultimate protection from water. They don’t provide as much warmth as other boots for the winter but can protect against surfaces year-round. Some boots and shoes are harder while others look more like a sock. This material provides a much lower cost boot, but may not be the most durable or provide the best traction. If your dog is injured, rubber socks may actually come in handy as a temporary way to keep a bandage dry.
- Leather – Many premium hiking boots for humans are made with leather, or even waterproof leather. Leather is a natural choice because it’s so comfortable, dogs can walk more naturally, and the fabric is more flexible to conform to any paw. Leather shoes provide warmth, protection from sharp objects, and is durable for any terrain.
- Nylon and Synthetics – Synthetic fabric can be both durable and ultra-lightweight. They are also extremely flexible so may provide an easy fit for your dog. Depending on the fabric, they may be less expensive than leather boots. Some fabrics provide shoes with a breathable mesh to cool off hot sweaty paws or for quick drying in the sun.
Fleece Lining – Some boots have an extra lining made of fleece or another synthetic material. This provides extra warmth and comfort to boots. Linings should not be made of cotton.
Seams – Steer clear of any seams that are glued together. The best boots have seams that are sewed together. These provide the boot with a longer lifespan and durability.
Upper Length – Some dogs get cold more easily than other dogs. Shoes that have a longer upper length or are taller can help provide some additional warmth to your dog.
Sole – The lifespan of a boot or shoe is mainly determined by how worn out the sole can get. That’s why it’s worth it to purchase a shoe with a good sole that will provide good traction and can take a beating on rough terrain. The sole should also provide some flexibility to help dogs walk comfortably. Soles with a patterned design usually provide the best traction. Sometimes shoes come with a rubber toe cap that connects to the sole. We like the option of having these as they seem to prolong the life of the shoe by providing extra waterproof protection at the seams of the shoe and protect against stubbed toes or nail breakage.
Boot Fit – Fit is very important for our dog. The best dog boots out there may not fit your dog’s feet. It’s important to try out the boots at home first to make sure that they are comfortable for your dog and that they stay on his feet. When you put on a dog boot, it should be easy to put on with wiggle room for the toes. Boots should also stay on. Some of the better boots out there come with a velcro strap that goes around your dog’s ankles. The strap should be wrapped around the ankle but not too tightly, otherwise your dog may have develop swelling in his paws. You want to make sure that the strap and boot does not rub against your dog’s fur and skin. Some dogs have a dew claw so this should be factored in when selecting a shoe that fits your dog. Shoes should not rub against the dew claw.
Wet, Rainy Spring or Fall Weather
For wet, rainy weather you definitely want a waterproof boot that will stay on. Dogs can use the boot to trek through snow, mud, and any other nasty that the weather brings with it.
Winter Snow & Ice
The most important thing to look for in a winter dog snow boot is that it will keep your dog’s paws dry, warm, and out of contact with any corrosive chemicals found in deicers or salt. If you are looking for a dog boot for winter, the best material you want to consider is one that is waterproof. You will also need a snug fit so dogs don’t lose their shoes in wet snow, mud, slippery terrain, or rocky areas.
Hot Summer Weather
Paw protection is a necessity in hot weather, especially where there is hot sand, pavement, and rocks. An alternative to boots is to use a paw wax.
Dogs sweat through their paws so breathable mesh uppers may help keep the inside of your dog’s boot dry and help regulate your dog’s temperature better. You may also want fabric that is fast drying in the sun.
The primary way a dog stays cool is by panting. Make sure your dog is drinking water and panting normally to stay cool. Watch for for any overheating and hyperthermia symptoms in your dog. They may be panting heavily, have red gums or tongue, appear sluggish, vomit, or have diarrhea.
MEASURING DOG BOOTS
Check with the shoe manufacturer on the right way to measure your dog’s paws for boots. Some manufacturers recommend picking a shoe size by weight, but always measure your dog’s paw and compare that to the exact dimensions of the shoe.
An easy way to measure your dog’s paw is to trace the outline of their paw. Just have your dog step onto a piece of paper and trace around their paw with a pencil. You’ll want to add about ¼ inch extra to allow for the best fit for your dog.
Once you purchase your dog boots, give your dog time to test them out inside the house. That way you can keep them clean and returnable if necessary. Give your dog treats and praise so they associate the boots with a reward. Then, go for a few trips around the neighborhood and give them some more treats. Pretty soon, they may be going to their boots rather than their leash when you tell them it’s time to go out on a hike!
After you come back from a hike, it’s a good idea to wipe up your boots so you keep them clean and in good condition for your next outing. If you need to wash your boots, it’s best to hand wash them but then leave them out in the sun or somewhere where they can dry thoroughly. A toothbrush comes in handy to remove mud and debris from the soles. Check with the manufacturer to see if your dog boots or dog shoes are machine washable. When not in use, keep them in a ziplock bag.
WHERE AND HOW TO BUY BOOTS
Dog boot prices vary greatly. The most important consideration in buying boots, however, is fit, durability (you want it to last), and adequate protection for your particular use and season. Boots and shoes will basically last until the sole becomes worn.
Wherever you end up buying your dog boots or shoes, it’s good if the store you buy has a flexible return policy. Dog boots are hard to measure for a good fit so it may take a few tries for you to find a pair that fits your dog well. You also need to go with a pair that your dog will be comfortable walking in. It will take some time for your dog to become comfortable walking in dog boots and dog shoes. If all else fails, try using paw wax or paw balm on your dog instead.
Ready to find out what our picks are for the best dog boots? Read: Top Hiking Boots For Dogs (2018) – Pawtivity Picks.
Going out into wet weather? Look also at our list additional first aid items to prevent and treat blisters, read: Tips for Hiking In The Rain: Staying Dry to Paw / Foot Care.
Is there a great dog-friendly activity or event missing from our list? Contact us so we can share it with the community!
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