Winter officially arrives this month, and snow already whitens the Wasatch. Sure, it’s nippier outside, but you can still take Fido out for walks and hikes. Of course, with the white stuff, you can also enjoy cross-country skiing and snowshoeing with your buddy.
With the collection of ice crystals (i.e., snow), you might want to consider another accessory for your dog: booties. Boots are no longer just for Puss. Nor are they just a fashion statement. They are protection against slicing-and-dicing ice, build-up of snow between the paw pads, sharp rocks or glass hidden underneath, and toxic salt and de-icing chemicals.
My dog, Elvis, sliced off half a toe pad on a rock and bled from icy snow a couple times before I discovered booties. Now, he can frolic to his heart’s content, and I don’t have to worry about those types of injuries and accompanying vet bills.
Many brands are available. Look for waterproof booties with flexible rubber soles and tread patterns for traction. Some come with gaiters (“sleeves” which cover the lower leg) for added insulation and protection against the cold. Read reviews so you can buy with confidence.
Be sure to size the booties for best fit. Sizing depends on the manufacturer. Some base it on the width of the paw. Others on the length, from the front edge of the small pads to the back edge of the large pad. So, if ordering online, be sure to check out their sizing guidelines. If possible, try on some booties for fit at a store
Another consideration might be finding a manufacturer that will sell the booties individually, so you can replace worn or lost booties later, as opposed to purchasing another set of four.
Fido will find the booties awkward at first. Have your video camera ready, because he’s going to high step like a pony. Nowadays, I put Elvis’s on in the car, right before hitting the trail, and he forgets about them almost immediately.
Booties can be used year round. They can protect against such dangers as glass and hot pavement in summer.
If you choose not to get booties, watch for blood spots in the snow as you go, and cut your hike short, if need be.
 See “Beginner’s Guide to Snowshoeing with Your Dog,” March 2013 issue, at petsinthecitymagazine.com
First printed in Pets in the City Magazine, January 2014