It is no secret that the furry, tame friends that we know as dogs today originated as wild wolves. These wolves regularly inhabit incredibly inhospitable lands; they have to withstand temperatures that would send many other species packing. The domestication process of the modern-day dog has been an elaborate one that has occurred over roughly 30,000 years.
This means that, in some ways, our canine companions do still display notable similarities to their ancestors. Yet, there are many ways in which the dogs of today are pretty far removed from their non-domesticated forefathers. Other than their adorable friendliness and eagerness to please, there are also countless physical ways that dogs have transformed.
While we do have Siberian Huskies and other dogs that bear a striking resemblance to wolves, there are also dogs such as the small yet noble Chihuahua. These cute and compact canines are inherently loveable, but not many people would say that they look a lot like wolves.
This is all to say that while wolves may be attuned to the ways of the wild and are able to thrive under harsh conditions, this is not necessarily the case for our dogs.
Humans and Dogs: A Domesticated Duo
Just one of the many readily apparent differences in physicality from wolves to our domesticated dogs is that their paws may need some extra help from time to time. You would be beyond shocked to see a wolf traversing through the snow with a pair of polka dot booties, but this could be quite different in the case of a pet dog.
It is very likely that you have seen someone’s dog sporting a pair of stylish shoes as they go on their walk. Or there is always the possibility that you have perhaps helped your dog don a pair of shoes themselves.
Despite possible extreme weather conditions or temperatures, your dog is still going to need to take trips outside. Whether this is for a walk to get out some energy, to help them lose weight, or simply to quickly use the bathroom and then rush back inside, this adventure into the outdoors is unavoidable. Since domesticated dogs are not equipped with all of the same tools that wolves are, that is where we can step in to help.
Why Do Dogs Need Shoes in the Summer?
Spending time outside with your pet is one of the absolute top advantages of having a dog. They get to be your outdoor companion as well as while you are both indoors. Walking is essential for canine health (and our health too!).
However, on days that are incredibly hot when you do not feel like venturing outside, it is possible that your dog does not either. Then, there are also those dogs who will never skip a potential trip outside, regardless of how unpleasant the weather might be.
No matter what kind of dog you are lucky enough to have, there will inevitably be very hot days when you both still need to go outside. Depending on where you live, you may experience more of these days than they do in other areas.
As hot as it may be for you outside, remember that your dog is also covered in a significant layer of fur, making them even warmer and putting them at risk for heat stroke. Be sure to have an abundance of water at the ready in case they get dehydrated or need a quick drink while out and about.
Attending to these needs is crucial, but there could just be one key issue that you may be
forgetting. Consider: Dark colors absorb the most heat, meaning that asphalt on the street has the ability to become unbearably hot very quickly.
Even if you may be wearing shoes that block the brunt of the heat, your dog is likely walking barefoot. This can be very uncomfortable for our pets and has the potential to become even more harmful.
How Do You Know if a Surface Is Too Hot for Your Dog?
Simply knowing the temperature outside will likely be a helpful start in determining whether or not the asphalt is too hot for your dog to walk on. If you still are not entirely sure, you can try to feel the pavement before your dog walks on it.
If you cannot comfortably keep your hand on the surface for five to ten seconds, it is safe to assume that your dog would not be able to comfortably stand on it either. A dog may experience second-degree burns within 35 seconds.
Note that pavement is far from the only surface that can cause harm to your dog’s paws. Sand also has the potential to retain a great deal of heat, so walks on the beach could be cause for alarm.
The same can be said for essentially any surface that is in direct view of the sun, so it is always a good idea to be prepared and aware of the path you plan to take with your dog.
Do Dogs Also Need Shoes in the Winter?
For the purposes of this article, we will be focussing solely on the fact that your dog could use shoes during the harsh and hot summer months. However, it is worth noting that dogs could also benefit from wearing shoes in the winter as well.
On particularly cold, icy, or snowy days, your pet could experience discomfort or even harm to their paws if they are not properly protected.
What to look for in winter shoes for your furry friend may differ in some cases from what they need for summer shoes, so that is likely an issue best left for another article. While there are similarities in what qualities they should have, they might not be equivalent.
That being said, there are some all-weather options available that can work for different conditions. Do your research to determine if these types of products are something you would like to look into for your pet.
Under What Other Circumstances Might a Dog Need Shoes?
If you are not currently considering the weather as a possible reason your dog might be in need of a pair of shoes, there are some additional situations where they could become useful. In case you want to take your dog on any kind of hike or simply on a path that might have rocks, twigs, and other sharp materials, you should always be prepared.
Even though it is true that dog paws are tougher than human feet and that their paws come equipped with a multi-layer cushioning system, they are still not invincible. Make sure to assess the terrain you are planning on traveling with your dog ahead of time, so you can determine if some kind of shoe or covering might be necessary.
Look for Summer Shoes That Are Durable
You are going to want shoes for your dog that are durable because there is absolutely nothing worse than being in the middle of an enjoyably challenging hike and suddenly realizing that your dog’s shoes have fallen apart or ripped.
At that point, your dog’s paws will be left unprotected from the elements. Durable shoes are the best option, even if you might need to pay a bit more to get them.
Shoes That Are Easy To Put On and Take Off
Many dogs are not overly excited about the prospect of you regularly putting shoes on and taking them off of their feet. It may take them some time to get used to the sensation and go back to walking as confidently as they do without their shoes.
Know your dog, and understand how to read their body language. You can make this process much easier for both you and your dog by getting dog shoes that are easy to put on and take off. Positive reinforcement is key here.
Shoes That Are High Quality and Long Lasting
Once you have decided to purchase summer shoes for your dog, you should make sure that the initial investment will serve you both well for many years.
There is no sense in simply buying a cheap pair with poor quality materials and having them fall apart after a season (or maybe even less). Then, there is always the possibility that a pair of shoes like this could even fall apart during a walk or hike when your dog needs them most.
It is best to avoid this unpleasant fate as much as possible by doing your research and getting a quality pair of shoes for your dog.
Shoes That Are Comfortable
Even if you might see a pair of dog shoes that are beyond adorable, that does not always mean they will be the most effective. Check the reviews to see what other people are saying, and remember that your dog’s comfort is much more important than shoes that match their eyes.
Make Sure That Your Dog’s Summer Shoes Are Breathable
In the dead of summer, your dog is going to want all of the heat relief they can get. If their shoes are not made out of a breathable material, heat can still be trapped and cause an unpleasant experience. Dogs can sweat out of their pads, so if boots are used too frequently, it may lead to overheating.
Get Shoes That Fit Your Dog Correctly
If you get shoes that are either too small or too large for your dog, they could actually end up doing more harm than good. Be sure to check the sizing options and know your dog’s approximate paw size. If you buy summer shoes for your puppy, make sure to buy new ones as they grow to their full adult size.
These Shoes Are Made for Walking
As long as you do your research and are patient with your pet, the process of finding the perfect dog shoes for summer is sure to be a simple and rewarding one.
If you have any questions about which shoes are right for your dog, their favorite activities, and your immediate environment it’s easy to ask for help. With the KONG Club app, you can reach out to the AskVet veterinarians, and they can help you find the perfect fit.
A Review of Domestic Dogs’ (Canis familiaris) Human-Like Behaviors: Or Why Behavior Analysts Should Stop Worrying and Love Their Dogs | National Library of Medicine
Functional and Recreational Dog Walking Practices in the UK | National Library of Medicine
How Does the Canine Paw Pad Attenuate Ground Impacts? A Multi-Layer Cushion System | National Library of Medicine
Protect your pet’s feet from heat, burns | Washington State University