Do Dogs Need to Wear Shoes and Clothes?

These days, it’s hard to miss dogs strutting their stuff in the latest canine couture. While decked-out dogs might have you scratching your head, wondering, “Why would anyone dress up a dog?” you may be surprised to know that for some dogs, clothing and shoes can protect them from the elements and things like frostbite and paw pad burns. As crazy as it may seem, here’s the scoop behind dressing your dog.

Do Dogs Need Shoes or Booties in the Summer?

Like human feet, dog paw pads are made to withstand pressure but are vulnerable to wear and tear. Walking or running on the hot pavement during the summer’s heat can cause paw pad burns, which, if severe, may require treatment by a vet. Booties on your dog’s paws may protect your dog’s paws from burns from hot surfaces, such as concrete and roads. If you take your pet hiking or exploring rugged terrain any time of year, all-terrain booties can prevent your dog from getting hurt by rocks, sticks, and other ground debris.

How Hot Is Too Hot For Dogs Outside?

The ideal temperature for dogs is 70 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the AKC. Temperatures 85 degrees (F) and above can be too hot for your dog. Asphalt, concrete, artificial grass and even natural grass can be very hot and burn your pets’ paws. The AKC suggests doing a hand test yourself. Place your palm on the sun-heated surface for 10 seconds; if it feels hot to your palm, then it’s too hot for your dog.

You can use shoes or booties to protect your pets’ paws; however, make sure they don’t further heat your dog. The best advice is to wait until the sun goes down, or even after a good rain to walk your pet.

Always make sure your dog has access to shade and fresh water while they’re outside on sunny days, no matter what the temperature.

Do Dogs Need Coats in the Winter? What About Shoes?

Sure, dogs have a built-in coat, but sometimes that natural shield fails to safeguard them against frigid weather. So, how do you know if your dog needs a jacket or sweater in the winter? Factors such as breed, size, age, and health play a role in your dog’s ability to tolerate colder temperatures. If your dog has a healthy, thick, dense coat and undercoat, it’s better protected from the elements. Siberian husky and Akita breeds fall into this category; they are built for cold temps.

On the other hand, short-haired breeds like Chihuahuas and Boston terriers typically shiver in chilly weather. Other dogs that may have trouble staying warm include breeds that sit low to the ground, like Dachshunds and basset hounds, and those that are clipped or shorn long-haired. Puppies, senior dogs, and those under 10 pounds or with medical conditions, can also be sensitive to the cold. Play it safe and put a coat or sweater on your pet when in doubt. If your dog appears to be getting too warm, you can always take the outwear off.

Are dog boots necessary in winter?

Dog boots and shoes can protect your pet from snow, ice, salt, and other ice-melting chemicals (which can be toxic to dogs). Dog boots further prevent a buildup of snow and ice between the toes, which could be harmful, especially in severely cold temperatures.

If you’re having trouble with your dog wearing his shoes, give dog socks a go. Dogs can wear them with or without boots. Applying paw balm during the winter can also protect your dog’s paws and soothe them if cracked.

How cold is too cold for dogs’ paws?

According to Canine Journal, dogs can withstand colder temperatures that humans can, because they have special circulatory systems in their paws. They suggest that dog foot covers are good for very low temperatures, as well as to protect dogs’ paws from ice-melting chemicals.

Does My Dog Need a Winter Coat?

Before buying a coat or sweater for your pet, speak with your vet about the best fabric options, in case your dog has skin sensitivities or allergies caused by fabrics, such as wool, nylon, or polyester.

Here are a few other tips for picking the best winter coat or vest for your dog:

  • Weigh and measure your dog while it’s standing. Knowing how much your dog weighs and its chest circumference (girth) will ensure the outwear will fit comfortably.
  • Make sure the coat or sweater is an easy-on, easy-off design. Try to avoid over-the-head outwear.
  • Coats and sweaters should be snug, but not too tight or restrictive.
  • The best winter wear for dogs should cover your dog from its neck to its tail and belly.

Tips for choosing coats and boots for dogs

To choose the right dog boots, first check the manufacturer’s size guidelines and measure your dog’s paw as they suggest. Ensure the dog boots are made from water-resistant or waterproof material, have adjustable Velcro straps and textured soles (for traction), and are flexible, so your pet can walk naturally.

Dogs don’t take to shoes or boots like humans. However, having your pet try them indoors and wearing them around the house for short periods (and using positive reinforcement with praise and treats) may get your dog accustomed to wearing paw protection and coats.