For a lot of dog owners, perhaps the most natural question that pops up in our minds when we see dog shoes for the first time is, "Why?"
And it's a reasonable question. Why let your dog wear dog shoes, dog boots, or dog sneakers when our dogs have been relying on their bare paws for most of history?
Well it turns out there are actually quite a few good reasons to let your dog wear dog shoes, especially in the times that we live in. Make that 10 reasons, to be exact:
1. PREVENT DOG BACTERIA AND GERMS
Being mindful of general cleanliness and sanitation couldn't be more important in the times we're living in right now. Several types bacteria can be brought in to the house by your pet: Salmonella and Campylobacter (fecal pathogen), Leptospirosis (via rodent urine), and Staphylococcus / Streptococcus (skin pathogen). Besides the fact that I can barely pronounce half of this list, I don't know about you, but it is not a pleasant list to read.
Rather than letting your dog trek around outside bare paw and potentially bringing in harmful bacteria or germs in to your home, a set of dog shoes, dog boots, or dog sneakers could mitigate the risk by covering your dog's paws with an extra layer of germ prevention. For the extra cautious, make sure to wipe down your dog shoes, dog boots, or dog sneakers with anti-bacterial wipes after a walk too.
2. DOG SHOES FOR SUMMER
Concrete and asphalt are non-natural, man-made surfaces that our dogs did not evolve to withstand. Paw pads are tough, but they are not indestructible. One of the most common injuries dogs are brought in to the veterinarian for during summer time is paw pad burn, and it happens a lot more frequently than you may think, especially in areas that experience all four seasons (e.g., New England, New York, and most of the Northeast) or have generally hot temperatures year-round (e.g., Arizona, California, Florida, Louisiana, Nevada, Texas, and many southern states).
According to this article by FOUR PAWS International, asphalt can reach temperatures of 40 to 50 degrees hotter than how it feels outside. That means even when it's 77 °F / 25 °C outside, the asphalt is 125 °F / 52 °C. See chart below:
Can you imagine walking bare foot on a 150 °F / 66 °C surface repeatedly? No wonder so many dogs are brought in to the vet for pad burn. If you see signs of pad burn on your dog, such as reddened or swollen paws, blisters, or charred skin, it might be time to invest in a pair of quality summer dog shoes, dog boots, or dog sneakers.
TL;DR: Don't let your dog turn into a hot dog. Use dog shoes for summer, especially if you live in an area that gets hotter than 77 °F / 25 °C.
3. DOG SHOES FOR WINTER
If you live in an area that experiences cold temperatures and regular or frequent snowfall (e.g., Alaska, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Vermont, Wisconsin, most of the Northeast), dog shoes or dog boots for winter offer great protection from the elements. Dog shoes or dog boots for snow not only provide protection from the freezing temperatures of snow and ice, but also protect against unnatural chemicals such as chemical deicers or sidewalk salt. Especially if you have a short-haired dog that naturally wouldn't have been living in a cold climate, investing in a set of dog shoes for winter or dog boots might make sense for you.
Look for dog shoes or dog boots with real rubber outsoles that provide the traction needed so that your dog doesn't slip in wet areas. It's a plus if the dog shoes have a water repellent or water resistant upper, as you want to make sure your dog's paws stay dry and comfortable.
4. DOG RAIN BOOTS
Similar to why you want to use dog shoes when it's snowing or hailing, dog shoes or dog boots are a great solution to those rainy days when your dog still needs to be walked. Besides preventing mud from being trekked in by your dog, wet surfaces can cause your dog to slip and fall.
Therefore when shopping for dog shoes or dog boots for rain, we recommend looking for dog shoes that have the same qualities as those meant to address rain and snow: rubber outsoles to provide traction and grip, and some type of water repellent or water proof materials. Rubber dog boots here tend to shine because they provide traction and the water repellent material all in one product.
5. DOG SHOES FOR ALLERGIES
If you own a dog breed that is susceptible to allergies, then you know the horror of lying awake while you listen to your dog licking his or her red, irritated paws... ALL. NIGHT. LONG.
Just like humans, dogs can be allergic to certain ingredients in their food, or from outside elements such as pollen, grass, mold, or dust. According to this article by Dupont Veterinary Clinic, while your dog's symptoms can be treated with an over-the-counter medication, if they continue to itch or lick their paws for a prolonged period of time they could develop a secondary bacterial infection.
While dog shoes, dog boots, or dog sneakers are not the end all be all solution for dog allergies, they can help as part of the overall solution to reduce further irritation. Wearing the dog shoe when indoors can deter your dog from further licking their paw. Additionally, you could use unscented baby wipes to clean your dog's paws in addition to wearing the dog shoes after a walk to further reduce allergen loads. For final measures, however, we recommend you consult with your veterinarian on identifying the cause(s) of the allergies and to take the appropriate measures to reduce contact with those allergens in the future.
Let you and your pup sleep in silence for once, instead of listening to what I would describe as a playlist of making-mashed-potatoes-sounds on loop (note: if anyone has seen a playlist like this on Spotify, please direct me).
6. DOG SHOES FOR OLDER DOGS
Adult and older dogs, especially larger breeds (anything from Golden Retriever to English Mastiff), are more susceptible to hip and joint mobility problems and are at risk of developing hip dysplasia or arthritis. If you're noticing reduced activity in your dog, or if he or she has issues navigating the stairs and standing up, it might be time to get your dog checked out by your vet.
One of the solutions your vet may recommend is investing in dog shoes. Dog shoes, dog boots, and dog sneakers serve two purposes in helping dogs prevent or mitigate the effects of hip and joint mobility problems: the traction helps prevent slips and falls that could further worsen your dog's condition(s), while the cushioning from the outsoles of dog shoes provide more comfort and can ease the pressure placed on your dog's hips and joints.
For more information on identifying hip dysplasia in older dogs, we highly recommend checking out this article by Orvis.
7. DOG SHOES FOR DIRTY STREETS
This one should be a no-brainer, especially for those of us who live in big cities. As New Yorkers ourselves, we can confidently say that you do NOT want to be walking around our streets without a set of shoes. Whether it's dirt, grime, broken glass, pigeon poop, dog poop, vomit, or that mysterious green juice that leaked out from the trash bags, one thing is for sure: I think we can all sleep a little easier at night when we know that our dog's paws did not come into contact with any of these foreign... objects. Put on a set of dog shoes or dog boots, so Fido doesn't become one with the sidewalk.
On a side note, I realize we aren't really selling New York to those of you who are considering living here in the near future. Dirty streets aside, it's an amazing city! Let us know if you ever want to meet up and try on some dog sneakers.
8. DOG HIKING BOOTS
Live near some good outdoor areas and plan on going hiking? Good for you! Bringing your dog? Even better! If you are going hiking though, you might want to strap up a set of dog shoes or dog boots for your pup.
Just imagine walking on a hiking trail out in the mountains barefoot. Yikes. I think I'd rather listen to my dog licking his paws, actually.
9. DOG SHOES FOR INJURY
If your dog has experienced any paw injuries that require proper bandages, dog shoes, dog boots, or dog sneakers could potentially be a helpful supplement post-injury for keeping the bandage dry and clean when your dog needs to walk outside briefly. Note that we do NOT recommend dog shoes to be a replacement for the bandages/treatment that your veterinarian has given to your dog, however. As each dog's injury varies on a case-by-case basis, we recommend that you consult with your veterinarian before utilizing dog shoes to support any bandages he or she needs to wear.
10.BEST DOG SHOES
Well, they didn't look that great before, but they do now. For those of you searching for Nike dog shoes or Jordan dog shoes, they don't exist (yet), but here is our [shameless plug] for our dog sneaker that actually looks like a real human sneaker, but protects your dog's paws from all the reasons described above. Introducing the RIFRUF® CAESAR 1, our entry into the dog sneaker game:
Pair it with a cool hoodie or jacket for a street-casual look or wear it bare like the Romans. You can't go wrong either way! To get your hands (paws) on the Caesar 1, make sure to subscribe to our email newsletter at www.rifrufqueens.com for exclusive news on our drop date later this fall, as well as a chance to win a free set of dog sneakers.
We founded RIFRUF® with one simple idea: to create dog shoes that are comparable to the design, craftsmanship, and functionality of the best sneakers we wear as humans. The mission of RIFRUF® is to enable your dog to look their best and live to their fullest, every step of the way. We represent more than just dog fashion. We exist to elevate the ways our dogs live: with products that act as functional and design-driven mediums, whether they're for daily walks or the runway. The RIFRUF® experience is an invitation and connection to what we value as a brand and family: modern design, sneaker culture, a dose of nostalgia, and most importantly, dogs.
If you liked this article, check out our other Pawprint blog post: Teach Your Dog To Like Dog Shoes.
For more resources on the benefits of dog shoes, check out articles from our friends below: