Do Dogs Need Shoes for Hiking?

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Do dogs need doggie shoes for hiking?

It’s a question that has puzzled dog owners for decades.

Some people believe canines should wear boots while others don’t think it’s necessary.

This article will explore the arguments for and against putting doggie booties onto dogs while hiking, so you can decide what to do!

The Benefits of Using Hiking Boots for Dogs

Muddy Dog Paw
Caption: A dog with muddy dog paws

1. Protection

Putting shoes on dogs can reduce the risk of various injuries resulting from a hike with them barefoot. These potential injuries include cuts, scrapes, cracks, and sores.

Not only that, but dog boots can also protect a dog’s feet from extreme cold or hot surfaces. If hiking in winter, dog footwear will help insulate the paws against the snow and ice on trails. Likewise, dog boots can protect a dog’s paws from the hot, rough ground that could be uncomfortable and damaging to their feet during the summer months.

Apart from that, using boots on your canine can help slough off any dirt and mud, which will, in turn, reduce odor, protect against infection, and ultimately keep their feet healthy.

2. Stability

Another benefit of using dog booties is that they offer a better grip for dogs while hiking, which can help your furkid stay balanced and provide the traction they need to keep moving ahead.

This is especially beneficial for hikes in slippery and rougher conditions on the trail that may cause your canine companion to lose their footing, for instance, while traversing steep and rocky terrain or trails with snow and ice.

3. Comfort

Using hiking boots on dogs can also provide increased comfort and protect your canine’s feet against other sources of discomfort, such as insect bites or other potential irritations, ultimately enhancing their enjoyment of the hike.

Plus, the padding of dog boots can provide support and help reduce stress on your dog’s paws and joints when they jump off rocks or onto different surfaces.

The Drawbacks of Dog Boots for Hiking

1. Some Dogs Dislike Wearing Boots

Dogs are natural explorers, and if you put boots on them, they won’t be able to feel the ground beneath their paws and experience the freedom of exploring without anything on their feet. These dogs might try to shake off the boots in an attempt to remove them no matter how well-fitted they are, especially the first time.

2. It Takes Time for Your Pup to Get Used to Dog Boots

If you have a dog who doesn’t like their feet covered, it might take some time for them to get accustomed to wearing and get comfortable in their new hiking shoes and learn to walk with them on their paws. The process can be slow and frustrating.

3. The Wrong Size Boots Can Hurt Your Dog

You can’t just buy any dog shoes and expect them to work like they’re supposed to. Your canine companion’s footwear must fit well, as ill-fitting dog trail boots could be uncomfortable and even painful for them to wear.

How Much Do Doggie Booties for Hiking Cost?

The cost of dog boots for hiking varies significantly, depending on the type you choose. They can range anywhere from $20 to around $100 or more for a set of four boots.

Pricier hiking boots for dogs tend to provide a lot more benefits and features. Most importantly, they generally have higher-quality outsoles and insoles to provide extra traction, protection, and comfort for your dog.

Paw Wax - The Alternative to Dog Hiking Boots

If your furry friend doesn’t like dog boots, you could choose to use paw wax instead, also known as paw balm or paw ointment.

These products work as a protective coat that can shield your dog’s paws against hot or cold surfaces and other substances that could be hazardous for your pup. Plus, most balms contain natural healing properties that can moisturize and remedy dry and crack paw pads.

They are easy to use, and application is simply a matter of rubbing the wax onto your dog’s paws before heading out onto the trail.

Are Dog Shoes and Boots the Same Thing?

Grey Border Collie in Blue Hiking Boots
Caption: A Border Collie in blue hiking boots

We’ve looked at some of the pros and cons of putting shoes on dogs and the alternative. Now let’s talk about the differences between doggie shoes and boots.

Since these two terms get thrown around interchangeably, it can sometimes be hard to tell apart from one and another, especially if you’re a newbie.

  • Dog shoes. Doggie shoes are soft-soled footwear designed to offer protection and support to your dog’s paws. They are typically safe for walking on various surfaces, such as concrete and asphalt, but aren’t ideal for hiking in the rocky or snowy terrain.
  • Dog boots. On the other hand, boots are hard-soled footwear with a more sturdy design to withstand rough terrains. Plus, they offer more support and protection than dog shoes and are usually waterproof to protect your dog’s feet from snow and other wet conditions.

Tips to Keeping the Boots on Your Dog

  • Choose the right size. Ensure to buy the right size boots that fit well and don’t restrict your dog’s movement or cause them any discomfort. That also means you would need to measure your canine’s feet before you make a purchase. To do that, place their paws on a piece of paper and mark the widest part of each toe. Then, measure and compare it with the sizing chart of the boots you plan to buy.
  • One paw at a time. Rather than putting on all four boots at once, put one on first and allow your furry companion to adjust to it. Then, let them walk around with it for a little while before moving forward with the rest of the booties.
  • A treat works wonders! Make sure to reward your dog with a tasty treat for wearing boots. Integrating treats into your dog’s shoe-wearing training will help them associate wearing their boots with something positive, hence making the entire process a lot less frustrating.
  • Be patient. Dogs are used to walking barefoot, so putting a new pair of shoes on them may be difficult for them. They might walk awkwardly, but don’t worry because they’ll eventually get used to having their paws covered. Just give it some time and patience!

So Should You Let Your Dog Wear Shoes When Hiking, Whether it's in the Summer or Winter?

That really depends on you. This debate has been going on for years, and you’ll find plenty of people on both sides of it.

Personally, I don’t see the need to put doggie booties or shoes on dogs for short, easy hikes or walks around the neighborhood. However, it is necessary for harsher hikes, for instance, trails with lots of sharp rocks, snow-covered terrains, and extremely hot or cold icy surfaces.

Read More: Best Dog Snow Boots for Winter Hikes