You run all year round. You know all it takes is the right gear for the conditions. Or, as author Alfred Wainwright wrote, “There's no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing.”
Your dog deserves the same consideration. But with so many options, it’s tough to know where to start. The one piece of apparel that can benefit all dogs in all conditions? Boots!
Not Just for Winter
When people think of dog boots, most often they think of winter. Winter running does require boots, of course. Why? Chemical de-icers can injure the pads of your dog’s paws. Snow and ice can cause your dog to slip and slide, which can result in injuries not just to her feet but to her muscles and joints. The hair between your dog’s toes can collect snow, which then melts from her body heat and refreezes in painful ice balls.
These are all great reasons for your dog to run in boots all winter long. However, dogs who are avid runners can benefit from boots year round and in all kinds of conditions. Running on the beach means sharp rocks and shells; boots keep your dog’s pads safe. Running on hot pavement means burns and possible pad tears; boots keep your dog’s paws free from injury.
Boots can give your dog much-needed traction in rocky terrain and help stabilize her in water. No matter where you run or what season, a solid set of boots will help your dog stick by your side with healthier pads and fewer injuries.
The Acclimation Period
While boots deliver all those benefits, not all dogs take to them right away. In fact, most dogs prance like Clydesdales the first time out in boots. The two keys to helping her acclimate to boots are to size them accurately and to start with short, slow runs.
The fit is crucial. Too tight or too big running shoes kill your feet, and it’s the same for your dog. Take accurate measurements and try on several options before you hit the road. Need help fitting your dog’s feet? Check out this post for details on finding the perfect fit.
Then, once she’s up and running in her boots, start with slow, short jogs. Diving into a marathon or a trail run out of the gate might overwhelm her. Be sure to give her lots of praise for going the distance with her shoes!
Don’t Neglect Paw Health
Finally, your dog’s paws need to be examined after each run in her boots. Make sure there aren’t any spots that are chafing. Check her dewclaw for snags—a possible sign of ill-fitting shoes. Apply paw butter to any rough spots. If there are any raw or open spots, treat them with your standard first aid steps, then give some time out of the shoes.
Ultimately, boots will keep your dog’s feet happy and healthy so you can enjoy more runs together!