The weather this year has been cold. We’ve had polar vortexes and arctic blasts, and I’m pretty sure I know how Laura Ingalls felt in that Long Winter now. I’m not the only one feeling the cold, though. Daisy has been uncomfortable, too. I first noticed that she was having problems when she started limping around and tucking her legs close to her body on really cold days. Worried that her legs were cramping or that there was a more serious knee issue, I talked to the vet tech. The vet tech examined Daisy’s paws and showed me that her pads were soft and pink, not the rough, black pads I’m used to seeing on my parents’ labradors. She advised I get some booties for Daisy because the icy, salty sidewalks were probably just burning her feet.
Once I got past the initial guilt of putting my dog in pain for a couple weeks, I moved into the shame phase where I thought, “Oh my God, I’m going to be one of those people I make fun of.” I didn’t know dogs actually needed foot protection, I just thought it was something people did for fun, like putting a tutu on a chihuahua.
So I began researching what kinds of boots I should get for the winter weather, and I saw lots of positive reviews for PAWZ. PAWZ are reusable, disposable, and come twelve to a package. The best description I have of them is that they are like very thick balloons that you slip over your dog’s paws. They come in five sizes, and you have to measure your dog’s paws to determine what size you need.
Every guide I’ve seen to acclimating your dog to wearing boots says to start in fall, with one boot at a time and lots of treats and praise. Never just put them all on at once and go. Not having that kind of time, I totally did it the wrong way. We started out just doing one boot in the house, slipping it on, feeding a treat and taking it right back off. Mostly just so that I could practice shoeing my dog. You really need to stretch the neck of the balloon to fit it over the paw and avoid the dewclaw. (Because they’re reusable, this becomes easier over time.) I did this a couple times over the first day, switching between her front two paws. The next day, against all good advice, we went to all four. As you can see below, it took less than two minutes to get them all on, and while she wasn’t happy about what was happening, she didn’t really fight it either, a triumph for such a typically anxious canine.
And once she had no choice but to walk on them, she didn’t care that she was wearing them. One of the great things about this particular kind of boots is that your dog can still feel the ground beneath herself because it’s not thick fabric. One of the nice side effects of it being so cold outdoors, is that when you put the boots on indoors and then walk out, the air inside the boots contracts, making the boots kind of suction around their paws, and making it even easier to feel the ground.
I was really worried about the deep snow we’ve been getting lately. Since the booties just slip on, I was sure they would slip off when Daisy has to break her own path through snow up to her belly. It’s been two weeks, though, and we haven’t lost one. And when I take them off when we get home, her feet are nice and dry.
We don’t put them on every time we go out, just for our morning and afternoon walk, because even though they’re very quick to put on and take off, it’s still too time consuming for a 30-second potty break. Since we’ve started using them, though, Daisy has not had one problem with limping from the cold, even when we take longer walks, so they do exactly what they need to do. People make fun of Daisy’s footwear, but we can actually get some exercise in this nasty weather now, so I’m willing to be one of those people.
I highly recommend PAWZ booties if you’re looking for a way to protect your dog’s feet from the elements. I bought mine on Amazon for $15.00 for 12 medium-sized foot protectors. It’s a pretty good bargain, considering some sets are upwards of $50.00, and there are no extras in those sets.
*I was not compensated for this glowing review, except in the alleviation of pet-related guilt.