Dog Winter Boots Reviews and options(updated)
I’ve been using and trying boots on our girls for years and wanted to share an updated revision of my last review here. Many of the older boots are no longer in production but you can still get them used and there are very similar copies out there with the same benefits and issues. I’ve grouped the boots into categories that I’ve made notes on. Please let me know what you think! These are based soley on my opinion and nothing more. My girls do not have dewclaws, and are short-haired Vizslas.
Dewclaws/ Small paws
One of the biggest hurdles to booties are dewclaws or if your dog has small paws (in relation to ankles) and the boots slip off easily. Even though my girls do not have these issues, this is the advice I’ve seen works. Dewclaws rub on straps, edges of boots and over time they can bleed and make boots very painful. Some boots have straps in better locations (you need to try them) but even without a strap, the inward pressure on the dewclaw and material rubbing can be painful.
If you notice this happening, use Vet Wrap (any brand will do, same used for humans) which is a self adhesive wrap under and then over the dewclaw. Do not wrap too tightly so it cuts off circulation or too loosely that it will move. It’s to prevent the dewclaw from moving too much. Then either put the boot over it, or use a sock on top.
Socks are another layer of protection for dewclaws, or dogs with paws that are too slim so boots slip off. Either with or without the vet wrap, slide the boot on, and secure with vet wrap or medical tape. Then slip the boots on top. You will need to experiment to see what works best for each circumstance.
These boots are the classic ones I see. They tend to have a soft material on the top, and a rubber sole on the bottom with a strap around the ankle. No matter what anyone says, they are not waterproof, but they’re ok with packed wetter snow. The ankle strap can be very difficult with dewclaws and if you don’t use a sock, they can have a hard time staying on if your dog runs around off leash. A trick is to twist the boot both ways a little bit (clockwise and anticlockwse about a quarter twist) before tightening the strap.
Ruffwear Polar Trex -Thick soles with gaiters. Good idea but Whiskey didn’t like these. She couldn’t feel the ground and the gaiters took up and kept snow inside.
Canine Equipment Ultimate Trail Boots -4 different boots, L/R back sized smaller than front. Discontinued, longer review here. I liked these boots for the thinner soles, easy to put on straps and warranty that my friends had tried. Unfortunately some of the older boots I had purchased had started wearing on the top and the material split disintegrating to pieces. I’m still using whatever is left however.
Hurtta Dog boots – We used these until they broke. The fabric on the middle/center of the heel wore through and made holes. Whiskey didn’t mind these and they stayed on if you pulled the strap tightly and then wove it back through the strap in the front. Otherwise they would come off. A new version is supposed to be coming soon.
Expawlorer Amazon dog boots -All these Amazon boots look like they’re made in the same factory with different names. They seem decent for the low price, ok for dogs without dewclaws walking on leash in packed snow or the city. Depending on your dog’s paws they may stay on for play, or they may not!
This type of boot is what we used on mushing dogs while dogsledding in the Yukon a decade ago. They’re very cheap, easy to put on and off, and are thin so the dogs can feel the ground. You won’t be too frustrated if you loose a couple of these but they won’t last as the fabric does wear out. These boots are good for packed snow on trails, nothing wet (or they will freeze), when you just want to keep the ice out. They’re also a very easy beginner boot if your dog is fussy about the thick soled ones with thick straps
Dog Booties -the simpliest version.
Non-stop Dog Wear -my current favorite for cross country skiing. Even in -20 degrees on a packed trail my girls have not complained and are happy to run. They will not protect as much from direct cold as a thicker sole and does collect ice around the ankles after a couple hours.
There are all higher up the leg than some of the short boots. This can be better or worse for dogs with dewclaws depending on the location of the straps. It’s better for trails where the dogs need just a bit more length so snow doesn’t fill in, but can be worse if the snow does fill in and collects to make ice balls.
Muttluks– I like Muttluks as an emergency bootie but the straps aren’t great so I duct tape them to Bourbon’s paws. They’re also all the same size so looser fit.
Voyager K9 Apparel– the highest boot and better for shorter walks, not major hiking
Great because snow does not stick to Neoprene and even when wet, Neoprene will hold in heat (it’s what wetsuits are made out of to keep people warm in the water). Not great because it’s very thick material and if your dog needs the feel the ground or any kind of technical surface they will probably not like it (Whiskey struggled).
Neopaws – a huge variety of sizes and orthopedic options, but very thick sole
For snow that’s a bit higher but NOT deep snow. Gaiters will fill with deep snow if there isn’t a seal on the boots and snow will just fill in and collect with no way out (we’ve experienced this and took them off in deep snow). Otherwise it’s great because you can’t lose the boots. They’re complicated to put on, but I used them on both dogs without issues or complaints. Backcountry Paws seems to be constantly out of stock, but I would recommend them if they were possible to order. Contrary to what you might think, I would recommend them for more packed trails so snow won’t get in, or for dogs that won’t go swimming in deep snow.
Here’s some other options.
paw Pup Wax – use after out for a long time or exposure to salt
Musher’s wax -works if your dog isn’t cold but gets ice balls around the long hairs between their paws (first would be to cut them shorter). They also do protect for a couple degrees difference (say if your dog needs boots at -5 degrees this might help make a 4 degree difference) and against salt but it does wear off. It it on right before you get out of the car when it’s slightly warmer as I’ve had a harder time when the wax is frozen.
I came across your website when searching to see if anyone had solved the issues/concerns I have in transitioning from dogs with dew claws removed to dogs with dew claws. I have been using dog booties for skijoring and general winter use for about 15+ years. I quickly gravitated to musher style booties (dogs hated the heavier type booties) and have made my own for years. I have not any serious issues with wear/rubbing on the dew claws with my new dogs but am concerned about it. I tied shortening some booties to fasten below the dew claws but they did not stay on. I made some longer so that fastened above the dew claw but have not found a length yet that functions well. I have not used the Vet tape (or human equivalent) but had been thinking of trying that: I definitely will based on your comments. I did know someone who simply used that same style of stretch self stick bandage to wrap the feet to effectively form a bootie. I was surprised to see that they remained fastened etc for a 6km skijor event. FYI my skijor dogs are standard poodles. I do trim the hair up the leg #4 blade to above where the bootie would go. That reduces the risk of the booties coming off. I had one dog that would run all day without booties. I also had a female (my best skijor dog) who would stop in her tracks if 2 snow flakes lodged between her toes.
Thanks for all your comments and help! It’s very informative especially since my dogs are so different. From my experience self stick bandages wouldn’t last very long alone, but I suppose a 6km sprint might work! the bandages are quite good and maybe it could freeze in place. You could also put duct tape on the bottom but each time would need to make a new bootie. The dew claws are definitely a challenge