If you enjoy going on hikes with your dog, you might have asked yourself, “Does my dog need boots for winter hiking?”
Dog winter boots have been trendy for a while, but are they as useful and comfortable as they’re marketed to be?
Dog owners often buy dog footwear in all sorts of weather. Obstacles like rocks, wood splinters, and thorns exist in the wild all year long, after all. So the question lingers: are dog boots crucial for hiking?
In general warm weather, the answer is no. The average dog can hike around 5-10 miles—30 if they’re seasoned hikers—with little trouble. But when it comes to cold weather, dog boots might just be essential for your dog’s well-being.
In this article, we’ll discuss all there is to know about dog boots and how to enjoy a good winter hike with our furry friends.
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Are Dog Boots Essential for Winter Hiking?
Taking hikes with your pooch is very beneficial to them. It strengthens your bond, keeps them physically active, and stimulates their senses by constantly interacting with nature. It can also act as an emotional release, especially if you both live in a confined cityscape.
Winter hikes are no different!
One thing to consider is that dog paws are almost like built-in boots. They help shield them from freezing temperatures. There are even studies that prove that exposed dogs’ pads help regulate their body temperature.
Dog paws have their vulnerabilities, though. They’re flesh and bone, after all, and the wilderness can be surprisingly dangerous.
Dog paws can experience extreme pain and discomfort when harmed, which is why they must be protected, especially in cold temperatures. That’s when dog boots come in handy.
In warm weather conditions, dog owners often find their dogs’ paws full of blisters on trips that are longer than 20 miles. These effects are only exacerbated in cold weather where the terrain is rocky and harmful obstacles like thorns and wood splinters are hidden underneath the snow.
So, for dogs that enjoy long winter hikes, dog boots provide protection, flexibility, and stability. They help protect your dog’s paw from blistering and potential wounds, especially in freezing weather.
What’s more, low temperatures can be harmful in long exposures, especially if your pet isn’t a breed that can easily adapt to it. In this case, dog boots, along with dog winter jackets, are essential.
But not all dogs would find it comfortable to wear boots and might rip them off without a thought. So, you might need to coyly introduce it to them before going on a dog-boot shopping spree.
Can Dog Boots Be Uncomfortable to Your Dog?
Dog shoes are in no way bad for your dogs. At most, they can be frustrating for dogs that aren’t used to them or just prefer their paws to be free of accessories.
In winter though, dog boots aren’t an accessory but are rather essential. So, what should you do if your dog refuses to wear them?
Here are some tips and tricks that we’ve compiled for you to help get your precious dog to wear boots comfortably:
5 Tips for Getting Your Dog to Wear Winter Boots
- Introduce your dog to the boots. If you have puppies, introduce them to their boots as soon as possible. The younger they are, the easier they’ll accept the boots.
- Let them wear boots at home for short periods. This will help them get used to having something touching their paws.
- If you have trouble with getting your dog to wear the boots at all, try encouraging them with treats. When you put on their first pair, give them a treat and shower them with praise.
- You can also try massaging their paws. This relaxes them and makes them familiar with the feeling of walking with boots on.
- If your dog looks uncomfortable and reacts negatively to the boots, stop and go back to the last successful step and repeat it. Consistency is key to creating a sense of familiarity and safety.
Dog Boot Recommendation
If you’ve decided that you want to dog boot a try with your four legged hiking partner and are now wondering, “Well, which ones should I buy?” we have you covered.
We love taking our girls out hiking as much as possible and we’ve lived up north off and on throughout their lives where cold weather hikes are common for months out of the year.
We’ve trial and errored a few different boots and it’s not easy finding a pair that check all the boxes. Comfortable for your dog, stay on their feet, provide good grip and durable.
The ones that have worked best for us are these Bark Brite Boots from Chewy. They’re water resistant so they work well if there is a little snow on the ground in addition to protecting against the cold. They’re durable and most importantly, they stay on!
Keep in mind too, that different boots have different fits and may work well for one dog, but not another. So, even if the first pair of boots you try don’t quite work, don’t give up! We went through a couple different brands and models before we found boots that worked well.
The jury’s out, and the answer to the question “Does my dog need boots for winter hiking?” is a definitive yes.
Winter hiking is a very healthy activity to do with your dog, but if you prioritize your dog’s safety and comfort during long winter walks, dog boots should be a no-brainer.
They not only protect their paws from blisters and wounds but also help with their mobility and long-term comfort, keeping them safe from the wilderness’s surprises. It’s also a great way to keep your dog warm, because they can lose a lot of heat through their feet on the cold ground.
There are only benefits to wearing dog boots. Even if your dog experiences a bit of discomfort, there is more than one way to train them to be familiar with it and embrace it too.