Why would dogs ever need to wear protective dog boots?
Is trail running hard on a dog's feet?
Trail running is hard on everyone's feet. Rocks, roots, mud, snow or ice can be torturous. Generally, dogs' paws become conditioned to run on familiar surfaces after a few weeks but at the beginning of a season, new terrain and changing environmental conditions can cause stone bruising, cuts and blistered pads.
What about running on pavement in urban settings?
Pavement comes in thousands of textures and can be extremely abrasive. Hot in summer, freezing in winter and often riddled with glass and sharp metal debris. Laced with oils, solvents and de-icing chemicals, this would be the last place I would let my dog run without booties.
Does snow and/or ice pose a problem for dog's feet?
Yes, certain conditions produce sticky, wet snow. In these conditions the snow will ball up in-between the dogs toes and cause irritation, cuts and tenderness. Dogs often chew at this frozen snow, pulling out fur and in some cases chunks of their pads. Granular or frozen snow on the other hand is equivalent to course sandpaper and is extremely abrasive on pads. As more people take their dogs snowshoeing and cross-country skiing on groomed or hard-packed trails, it is especially important to protect their pads. Another hazard would be razor sharp ski and snowboard edges. I have seen several and heard of many more severely cut paws, pads and ankles from frolicking dogs that venture too close to skis and snowboards.
How much hiking or running is too much on a dog's feet?
Conditioning is key! Any amount of exercise can be too much if the dogs are not conditioned to the surfaces they are walking or running on. We suggest using protective dog booties anytime your dog is in a new environment. Dogs are accustomed to running around "bare foot" in their normal daily environment. But just as humans are susceptible to hot, cold, sharp, abrasive, or caustic surfaces, so are dogs. Be aware and you won't have to carry a lame dog out of the backcountry.
How can you tell if a dog's feet are sore or injured?
If you are in tune with your dog's activity level and personality, you will be able to tell that your dog may be staying off his feet or favoring a paw. Of course it is best to be attentive to the details of your dog's actions after any sustained or excessive exercise. Look for the obvious cuts, blisters or in extreme cases a "sloughed" pad. Less noticeable will be abraded or thin pads. In this case look for small wet dots the size of a ballpoint pen or moist areas on the pads. These are areas where the pad has worn down to the capillaries. This condition is painful, as there is very little pad left on which to walk.
What are some tips for treating a dog's bruised or cut pads?
When treating a cut pad, the first step is to make certain that there are no foreign objects left in the wound. Splinters, gravel and glass are just a few things to look for. Flush the wound with the sterile eye-skin wash found in our First Aid Kit or use a saline solution (1-tsp. salt to a quart of warm water) and dry the paw. You may want to apply an antibiotic ointment then wrap the paw starting with a non-stick pad. A bootie will protect the dressing and keep the area clean between dressing changes. For bruised pads try to reduce activity to allow the pads to heal more rapidly. If left to their own, dogs will often regulate their activity to facilitate quicker healing. Of course the best measure is prevention. Always carry a set of booties so that you have the choice of putting them on your pup before the going gets tough.
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Performance Outdoor Gear for Dogs