Incorrectly sized boots will not be comfortable or perform well. If the boot is too loose, it may keep falling off or it will make it hard for your dog to walk. Just like boots for people, if the boots are too tight they can put pressure on the feet and cause them to go numb. Not only are numb toes uncomfortable, but they also get cold easier and could lead to frostbite.
So how do you make sure your dog's boots will be comfortable and stay on?
Follow These 6 Steps to Ensure the Proper Fit
1. Before starting, make sure your dog's nails are trimmed to get an accurate measurement. The tools you will need to measure your dog's feet are pencil or pen, blank paper, and a tape measure.
2. Place the paper on a firm, flat surface so your dog's paw will fully contact the paper. Have your dog stand on the paper with their full weight so their toes completely spread out. Sometimes it helps to gently hold the opposite paw in your hand so all the dog's weight is on the paw you are measuring.
3. Use the pen or pencil to draw lines at the top, bottom and sides of your dog's paw. Clearly mark each side at widest point and don't forget to include the toenails.
4. Measure the lines to find the length and width of your dog's paw.
5. Compare these measurements to the size chart for the particular boot you will be purchasing. The sizes for the same measurements will vary a little from one brand to another. And sometimes different models within a brand will vary in size because they are made out of different materials.
6. Once you have the dog boots, make sure that you selected the right size by having your dog try them on. Put the boots on while your dog is standing in order to ensure they are securely fastened with the dog's weight fully on the paws. Make sure to include the dewclaws in the shoe if applicable (the claw that appears higher up on the dog's paw) as not to provide discomfort. Similar to how you would size your own shoe, gently squeeze the front of the boot to make sure your dog's toes are near front but not pressing into the front of the boot. For small dogs, you may want to consider putting the dog on a counter or table top so you can get a better view when putting on the shoes.
When you are sure you have properly fitting boots, you will need to get your dog used to walking in them.
How to Get Your Dog Used to Wearing Boots
Having something strapped to their feet is a new, strange sensation for dogs. Very rarely will they take to wearing boots right away. They might refuse to walk, do a strange dance, or immediately try to take them off. It's important to get them comfortable wearing the boots before you head out on your adventure.
The best way to get your dog used to the boots is to put the boots on and immediately go outside and engage in your dog's favorite play activity â€” fetch, Frisbee, tug, or even tossing treats for them to hunt down. This will help the dog focus on something else besides the shoes. Praise your dog the whole time they have the boots on. After about 15 minutes, take the boots off and try the exercise again later.
Once your dog seems comfortable keeping the boots on during play, take them for a walk with the boots on. It's best to start out with walks around the neighborhood. Start out with a short walk and then check your dog's feet for any signs of chafing or sores. Increase the lengths of the walks until you think your dog is ready to head out on a hike with the boots.
Both of these exercises will not only help your dog get used to walking in boots, but it will also break the boots in; the boots will start to conform to your dog's foot.
Please be aware that dogs sweat through their paws. To prevent irritation or overheating you should never allow your dogs to wear boots for extended periods of time.