The Casual Hiker™

Trails, Tips, & Other Topics

Dog Booties: Fashionable and Practical Accessories December 1, 2017

Filed under: Tips — Chanté McCoy @ 1:25 am
Tags: , , ,

dsc04113Winter 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[1] 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.

[1] See “Beginner’s Guide to Snowshoeing with Your Dog,” March 2013 issue, at petsinthecitymagazine.com

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First printed in Pets in the City Magazine, January 2014

 

 

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Snowshoeing with Your Dog March 13, 2015

Chante and Elvis, Millcreek Canyon, copyright Chante McCoyHave you ever thought about snowshoeing? The snow is still here despite what the groundhog said, so you might as well enjoy it. You can still hit the trails, a snow-layered golf course or city park, or a closed canyon road, such as the one a few miles up Millcreek Canyon.

The cold is no excuse to stay home. Dress appropriately, and you’re good to go. Believe me, once you get moving, you’ll be comfortable and warm.

Fluffy is ready with her fur coat, but you can give her extra protection with a coat and booties. Here are some tips to ensure you’re both ready to romp in the white stuff.

Clothing

Layer, layer, layer: long johns, long sleeved shirt and pants, and a coat. Pockets of air will do the rest by trapping body heat.

For clothing, take some hints from ski/snowboarding clothes. Go with synthetic fibers for breathability and wicking moisture (i.e., sweat) from your body. Avoid cotton. Cotton holds moisture and stays wet. Don’t wear blue jeans; once they get wet, they stay wet.

Gloves or Mittens

Gloves allow more finger flexibility, nice when strapping on the snow shoes. Mittens are warmer because they trap body heat inside.

Headwear

Take along a warm fitted hat that covers your ears. On a warmer day, a headband covering your ears will be adequate.

Snowshoes

Snowshoeing in Bryce Canyon, copyright Chante McCoyUnless you’re trekking on a popular snow-packed trail (where traction devices are sufficient), you’ll want snowshoes. Lightweight aluminum, narrow frames allow you to walk almost normally. Adjustable straps let you use boots or less bulky shoes. Spring-loaded suspension and crampons on the bottom with their springy prongs provide for traction and lift off.

Snowshoes are designed differently for the sexes (i.e., more tapered for women to accommodate their stride) and for different weight loads. When first snowshoeing, rent a pair before investing. Snowshoes generally run $100 and up.

Traction Devices

Traction devices wrap around the bottom of your shoes, providing steel grips that press into snow or ice for added traction. Traction devices are useful for packed snow or intermittent patches of snow and slush. I use “Yak Trak” which are made of springy rubber with wound steel coils. There are other brands/variations.

Boots

Feet easily get cold. And wet. While you can get away with tennis shoes for a short excursion, I highly recommend insulated, waterproof boots that are at least ankle high.

Gaiters

If you don’t have ski pants, get leg gaiters. Gaiters connect to your boots and provide overlapping waterproof protection up to your knees.

Dog Booties

Dog booties, copyright Chante McCoyWhen traipsing in the snow with Fluffy, consider getting her a set of booties. Think Iditarod. Booties for sled dogs are required equipment on account of ice, hard packed snow, and sharp rocks. Your dog will be subjected to the same, cutting her pads and making them bleed.

Look for waterproof booties with flexible rubber soles with 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, I recommend trying on booties at a store for a good fit.

Coat or Sweater

For a short-haired dog, consider covering her with an outer layer to protect against the cold and wet. Take her to a couple of pet stores and outdoor recreation outfitters and try on coats before investing. You’ll want something comfortable, snug, and easy to put on.

Published in Pets in the City Magazine, March 2013 (http://issuu.com/petsinthecitymagazine/docs/march2013issue/1?e=6737603/1656973)