Winter Paw Protection: Do Dogs Need Boots in Winter?

11 Minute Read
 | Amy Dyck
Updated January 5, 2024

Does your furry friend need winter boots? While the sight of dogs in boots might be amusing, this doggy footwear serves a vital purpose. They not only protect your dog's sensitive paws from harsh winter elements like ice, snow, and road chemicals but also enhance their overall well-being during colder months.

Overcoming the challenges of icy terrains, snow, road salts, and potentially sharp debris can be tough on your dog's paws. That's where dog boots come into play. They are essential for protecting your pet’s paws against various winter hazards. This guide not only explores the benefits of boots for dogs but also provides practical tips for easing your dog into comfortably wearing them.

Understanding the significance of paw safety is crucial. Training your dog to enjoy boots might initially seem like a daunting task, but it's an investment in their safety and happiness. Properly fitted dog shoes allow your pup to engage in more outdoor activities, ensuring they're well-protected against the elements.

When choosing the right dog booties, look for features like reflective accents for visibility in low-light conditions, adjustable velcro straps, and breathable, waterproof materials. Of course, selecting a style that appeals to you is also part of the fun. By equipping your dog with the right boots, you're setting them up for enjoyable and safe winter adventures. Just like humans, your pup needs a pair of booties.


Why Dogs Need Boots?

Is there anything cuter than a dog wearing snow boots? I don’t think so. But besides how cute they can be, there are many other benefits to buying dog snow boots for winter.

If you are unfamiliar with the idea of dog boots or sock boots, you might be wondering if they are really necessary to protect paws from cold snow or other hazards. Your dog's paw pads are naturally designed to traverse rough surfaces in different environments.

Dog boots work by keeping the footpad dry and creating an insulating layer around it. With dry foot pads, your dog will be able to tolerate the cold weather for longer and will be more comfortable walking in the winter. So, do dogs need boots for winter? We would say yes, especially if you live in extremely harsh winters.

Boots also protect your dog’s footpads from irritation caused by chemicals and salt (think of all the nasty stuff we put on our driveways and sidewalks to remove ice).

Benefits of Dog Boots 

Hate wiping your dog’s paws after coming in from outside? Boots keep dirt, mud, and snow from collecting on your pet’s paws. Have hardwood floors? Dog footwear can protect your floors from scratches, too. There are many types of boots, so try out a few to find the best fit for your dog's training.

This is when the best dog boots can come in handy. Though dogs may not love wearing them, they allow your dog to handle more extreme temperatures and terrains.  The best winter dog boots feature a rubber sole for traction and extra protection on hot pavement. You can also invest in sock boots.

While the sight of a dog in snow boots is undeniably adorable, the benefits of these boots go far beyond their cute appearance. Dog boots are indispensable in winter weather, keeping your dog's paws warm and protected with fill-like fleece.

Benefits of dog boots include: 
    • Safety: Shields paws from extreme temperatures, hot pavement, sharp objects, chemicals, and deep snow.
    • Injury Prevention: Prevents cuts, abrasions, and infections, especially during active pursuits like hiking. Stop snowballs from accumulating between toes.
    • Enhanced Traction: Provides better grip on slippery surfaces, improving stability and preventing falls no matter the terrain.
    • Comfort: Offers cushioning and support for more enjoyable walks and hikes.
    • Hygiene: Keeps paws clean, reducing the risk of infections and allergies.
    • Post-Surgery Care: Ideal for protecting bandages or surgical sites on the paws.
    • Allergy Mitigation: Helps avoid contact with allergens, reducing allergic reactions.
    • Flooring Preservation: Prevents scratches and damage to indoor floors and furniture.
    • Increased Visibility: Reflective features enhance safety during nighttime walks.

Next time you take your dog for a hike out in the wilderness or a trek through the snow, bring along a pair of dog booties to keep your pooch safe and make your adventures more enjoyable.


How to Train Your Dog to Wear Boots in Winter


Mastering the art of getting your dog comfortable with wearing boots requires patience and understanding their unique pace. Initially, they might be hesitant or uncomfortable. Start by selecting the ideal pair of dog boots, ensuring they are the correct size for your furry friend's paws.

To find the perfect size, measure your dog's paw at its widest and narrowest points. This ensures the boots you choose will be snug and comfortable for all seasons. Once you've picked out the right sock boots, it's time for your dog to get familiar with them.

Here's a step-by-step guide to help your furry friend adjust to their new dog booties:

    • Positive Association with the Boots: Introduce the boots to your dog in a relaxed setting. Allow them to sniff and explore them, building a positive association.
    • Gentle Paw Handling: When your dog is calm, gently play with their paws. This gets them accustomed to having their feet handled, making it easier when it's time to put on the boots.
    • Maintain Nail Health: Regularly trimming your dog's nails ensures the dog boots fit comfortably and are easier to put on and remove. Overgrown nails can complicate finding the right size.
    • Gradual Introduction: Begin with one boot at a time, quickly putting it on and taking it off to show your dog that booties are not permanent or punitive.
    • Indoor Practice: Have your dog try all four dog shoes indoors at first. Engage in indoor activities like playing fetch or tag to encourage them to move around in the boots.
    • Continuous Movement Outdoors: When moving outside, start with short walks, gradually increasing the duration. If your dog seems reluctant, keep them moving or distracted to prevent them from focusing on the boots. Always pack boots for any outdoor activity.
    • Patience is Key: Remember, each dog adapts at their own pace. Some may get comfortable with boots in a few days, while others might take longer.

Adhering to these guidelines will assist your dog in becoming accustomed to boot-wearing, safeguarding their paws and guaranteeing their comfort on excursions.

Some dogs catch on quickly that their new winter boots make cold weather walks more enjoyable, while others just can't get past the weird feeling of shoes. It may take some time and plenty of practice to help your dog adjust and walk normally with their boots. 


Signs That Your Pup Needs Dog Winter Boots


Here are some tell-tale signs that your dog's paws are too cold and he needs dog shoes:

Signs your dog needs boots for the temperature extremes:

    • Picking up paws when walking outside
    • Excessive licking of footpads
    • Shivering from being chilly
    • Dry, split, or cracked footpads
    • Difficulty cleaning muddy paws indoors
    • Special conditions: illness, injury, age, or chronic disease
    • Paw injuries: clean and protect to prevent infections

Ignoring these signs risks paw damage and frostbite and may deter your dog from outdoor activities.

These are signs that it's too cold for your dog to be outside without paw protection from a good set of dog shoes. Ignoring these signs could lead to paw damage and frostbite. Plus, it may discourage your pup from wanting to go outside and exercise.


What are the Best Dog Boots?


As you can imagine, there exist many different types of dog boots. At Homes Alive Pets, we offer many of the best dog boots for deep snow, such as the Canada Pooch with Velcro strap closures and reflective accents.

Let's talk about the top five best boots available.

1. Muttluks Fleece-Lined Dog Boots

These Muttluks Fleece-Lined Boots are comfortable for your dog with a stretchy cuff and a reflective stripe on the strap. The snug and comfortable fit allows your dog to adapt to these boots quickly in a cold climate.

2. Muttluks Snow Mushers Dog Boots

Another popular winter dog boot from Muttluks, the Snow Mushers, has a flexible rubber sole, providing additional grip on slippery surfaces from wet terrain.

Shop All Muttluks

3. Ruffwear Polar Trex Boots

Are you looking for protection against extreme temperatures? Road salts and chemicals? Or boots for rough terrain? These Ruffwear Polar Trex Boots are the perfect solution. The length of the boots pulled up protects the ankles and heel. They won't slide or twist. These boots are great for hot pavement.

Shop All Ruffwear Gear

4. RC Arctic Boots

These boots are durable and made with water-resistant material. Additionally, the RC Pets Arctic Dog Boots have a sturdy sole that makes them perfect for slippery or uneven terrain. Built-in socks provide additional insulation and a more comfortable fit.

Shop All RC Pets Gear

5. GF Pet Elasto-Fit Boots

If you are looking for a lightweight, breathable, and water-resistant boot for your dog, look no further. The easy slip-on design of the GF Pet Elasto-Fit Boots makes them a popular option.

Shop All GF Pet Gear


Your dog may be less than thrilled to try on his new boots. If you struggle to get the boots on and keep them on your reluctance dog, you are not alone. Training your dog to wear boots takes practice and consistent instruction. Plus, lots of treats. Get more tips and tricks in How to Train Your Dog to Wear Boots in Winter.

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How to Measure Dog Feet for Boots

Ensuring your dog's boots and socks are the right size is key to their comfort and functionality. A good fit means the boots are snug but not overly tight or loose. Start by measuring the width of your dog's paw at its widest point. If your measurements fall between sizes, it's usually best to choose the larger option or explore different styles of boots for walking.

Before fully committing to a pair, test the boots indoors. This helps to confirm that they securely and comfortably conform to the shape of your dog's paw. The boots should allow for some room without being restrictive to effectively protect paws.

The ideal fit will hold the boot in place around the narrowest part of the leg. With proper sizing, even small dogs can comfortably don a pair of booties.

For more detailed instructions on measuring your dog for boots, as well as sizing for other gear and apparel check out, How to Measure Your Dog.


Dog Boots Alternatives


Some dogs just won't wear boots, and other dogs who are more suited for cold weather may not need a fully insulated boot. However, these dogs can still benefit from road chemical and salt protection and wintertime dryness by using a dog boot alternative. The foot gear protects paws from cold temperatures.

Paw Wax

Paw wax is a thick wax that you place on the bottom of your dog's paws to protect them from the salt and road chemicals and snow and ice on your walks. It will keep your dog's footpads from drying out and subsequently cracking or splitting and provides a nominal waterproof barrier. 

Paw wax is a great choice for cold-loving breeds such as Huskies, as well as any dogs who refuse to put on boots. There are a variety of options out there, but we recommend Musher's Secret. It's a great product for it's value.

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Dog Boots Frequently Asked Questions 

At what temperature should dogs wear boots?

When the winter temperatures dip below freezing (32°F or 0°C), it might be time to put on your dog's boots. Every dog is different and has a different tolerance to cold, snow, and ice, so look for signs that your dog's paws are cold, like paw lifting.

Do all dogs need snow boots? 

While not all dogs require snow boots, those living in freezing climates or areas with snow and ice could benefit from them, as boots offer protection from freezing conditions, salt, and chemicals used on sidewalks.

Can salt on sidewalks harm my dog's paws? 

Yes, salt and ice-melting chemicals can irritate and damage your dog's paws, leading to cracking, bleeding and pain. Boots or paw protection can prevent this.

Are there specific breeds that don't need insulated boots in the winter?

Extreme weather-adapted breeds, like huskies, may not need insulated boots, but they should don thin, waterproof boots for protection from salt and comfort in extreme conditions.

How do I choose the right snow boots for my dog? 

Select boots that fit snugly without being too tight, and ensure they're waterproof and provide good traction. Gradually introduce your dog to wearing them indoors before venturing outside for an extended walk or hike.

Is it good for dogs to wear boots?

Dog boots protect from extreme weather conditions, harmful chemicals, rough terrain, and injuries to the feet or paws. Boots that fit properly enhance your dog's overall comfort and well-being while offering traction in slippery conditions. 

Can my dog wear boots indoors?

While it's generally not necessary for dogs to don boots indoors, some pet owners use them to stop their dog's toenails from scratching flooring or provide traction for senior or mobility-impaired dogs.


Written by

Amy Dyck


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