The Casual Hiker™

Trails, Tips, & Other Topics

Dog Booties: Fashionable and Practical Accessories December 1, 2017

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



First printed in Pets in the City Magazine, January 2014




Dog Coats For Function and Style January 24, 2017

Filed under: Tips — Chanté McCoy @ 10:58 pm
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dsc00977If you’re like me, you can never have enough coats. I’m no clothes horse, but one needs a variety to cover most occasions.

Evidently, this seems true for dogs. Diva and Dash could have so many coats as to require their own closet.

Styling Coats

If looking to clothe your canine fashionista, coats of lightweight fabrics and sweaters run the gamut of cute. You can dress your pet to accessorize your look, to match a collar, or to reflect the season.

Styling coats and sweaters meet a variety of tastes and budgets. How about a tartan plaid vest, a faux leopard trim coat, or a “Born to Ride” leather jacket ( Or, consider the Alpaca Poncho ( hand knitted and “detailed by artisans in Peruvian mountain villages using ancestral techniques of spinning and dyeing.”

Since styling coats are designed to declare one’s fashion sense, they are meant primarily for indoors or moderate weather. These coats and sweaters pull on and stay on, often for days, until needing a wash or a new look.

Wet and Cold Weather Coats

When talking about walking, especially in inclement weather, coats become more a necessity than a fashion statement, especially for our short-haired canine companions.

For cool weather, fleece is all that is needed. Coats with Velcro wraps or pullovers with elasticized waists to keep in warmth are cozy.

For wet or windy weather, seek out waterproof lightweight nylon that is breathable. Fleece linings add extra warmth.

Quilted and “blanket” coats are also a possibility, creating air pockets to trap your dog’s body heat. I even found a blanket coat at BaxterBoo with removable leg pieces to convert it into a snowsuit.

For easy fitting, Velcro closures around the neck and waist are the quickest for an adjustable, comfy fit.

If well designed, a coat should accommodate a leash, either through an opening or via its own metal ring. Extra features might be a removable liner, reflective piping for extra visibility, handy zip pocket for keys and waste bags, or reversible sides for two looks.

Cooling Coats

Yep, there’s such a thing as coat for hot weather. Ruffwear ( offers one called the Swamp Cooler. You soak the coat in cold water, and – via evaporative cooling – the coat exchanges body heat with the water’s chill. For our scorching Utah summers, this certainly seems a good idea.

Pressure Coats

Some coats are designed to quell anxiety. The Rein Coat ( and Thundershirt and Thundercoat ( are snug fitting coats designed to apply constant, gentle pressure to calm dogs during storms, travel, and fireworks, or for separation anxiety.

The Rein Coat also incorporates a harness to replicate the nurturing pick-up of a puppy by its mother.  According to manufacturers, The Rein Coat “is designed to lightly  touch your pet at the nape of the neck—just like a mommy dog or cat—triggering the production of oxytocin to be released  by the brain, which then reduces the fear and anxiety in your pet.” (The coats are indeed available for cats too.)

Breed-Specific Coats

For dogs with unique body shapes, such as Dachshunds and Whippets, you can find manufacturers that specialize in breed-specific coats. For example, Foggy Mountain Dog Coats ( provides a variety of functional and styling coats for deep-barreled, thin-waisted dogs and their short-legged, long-bodied comrades.


Sizes vary by manufacturer, so get out the measuring tape. For back length (example: 23” – 25”), measure from the base of the neck to the base of the tail.  For girth, measure your dog’s chest behind the front legs at the widest part. If the measurements are at the upper end of the sizing range, it is safest to go up to the next size. Hopefully, the measurement guide includes a weight range too for extra guidance.

If possible, take your dog to pet stores and outdoor recreation outfitters and try on coats before investing. If ordering online, read the ratings and comments. Often, other buyers’ observations will help you decide if this coat will meet your requirements, or how to determine your dog’s size. With measurements in hand and some assurance of quality from previous buyers’ feedback, you can buy with confidence (but double-check their return policy!).

And don’t forget to set aside closet space to accommodate your dog’s wardrobe.




First Published in Pets in the City Magazine, February 2014