Credit: chopsooyWe've all seen them right? Little doggies with diamante collars, designer brand clothing that make Giorgio Armani look like an amateur designer and shoes and boots that cost nearly as much as my Nike's, but is it all just for show or are there actually health benefits in this seemingly crazy trend of fitting out our dogs in clothing and paw wear?
What Are The Benefits?
The benefits of a warm coat are obvious, especially for dogs with fine fur, aversions to cold weather (like the Whippet) or that need all year round clipping of their coats (like the Poodle). Our furry friends can and do catch colds and respiratory infections, so keeping them warm and protected from harsh winter weather is really a kind thing to do. The range of warm and protective clothing is vast and plentiful. Nowadays you don't even have to pay very much money to get suitably warm clothing for your furry friend, or if you're handy with a couple of knitting needles, get to it. Some of the best sweaters I have seen have been hand-made with love, for man's best friend. Of course the apparel range is not just limited to sweaters... Raincoats, water safety vests, full body suits (for maximum winter protection) and night wear with reflective strips so your dog stands out in the dark, all can help keep your dog safe and well.
But What About Boots And Other Footwear?
Depending on the environment where you live, boots or shoes are very useful for a few different reasons. If you're living in an area, such as mine, the streets are littered with hazardous objects, are extremely dirty and it's not just sand and dust. Daily walks with my dog involve walking through spit, oil, chemicals, broken glass, sharp metal objects and many other undesirables. I had to get some footwear to protect her. These are most likely extreme conditions compared to your own but even in normal living conditions, the streets can still have many hazards. Within the last couple of years, I have done extensive research into the types of dog shoes available on the market today. One thing for certain is that money does buy you quality.
I (or should I say, my dog) haven't personally tried all of the best brands as of yet, but are currently in the process of doing so. I have however, done a lot of research on this subject and here are the best brands of dog boots on the market.
Fashionable Or Practical?
Yes, when we see those pampered Hollywood pooches being carried around in handbags and dripping in diamonds. It's not hard to see why many people think it's all a little over the top. We could easily put a case forward arguing against the need for doggy apparel, but since moving to a country where living standards can often be a little low, I have found a love inside me for low-key, but high quality clothing for my little friend that I never knew existed, and I'm definitely not alone. It's not that I enjoy suiting up my dog before we take off on our daily strolls, heck it's even a bit of a hassle. I long for the days where I can give her a call, attach her lead and walk out the front door, but for me, giving my poodle a warm sweater to keep her protected from the freezing cold winters experienced here and putting on her neo-paws neoprene dog boots, to keep her feet dry and more importantly clean and protected, has become a necessity. There are also a couple of obvious added bonuses for owners too. No more muddy pawprints all through the house, keeping your home much cleaner and free of germs that they may have picked up on their paws... if they also have a waterproof coat... even better. The other big bonus is that you don't need to bath your pal anywhere near as often, they stay much cleaner.
The Seasonal Benefits
Credit: chopsooySnow and ice can cause many problems for your dog. Would you like to walk around bare foot and next to naked during winter? Footwear in the cold months can solve many problems. A good pair of boots can keep their paws dry, warm, free from snow and ice balls, eliminate the worry about salt and dangerous chemicals used to de ice roads and even add traction on slippery surfaces. During summer, walking your dog on hot roads, through grass seeds and prickles or letting them wade around on sharp rocks and coral at the beach can all cause damage to their pads. Fitting summer shoes on to your best friends paws, whilst not a desirable thing to do for many owners, can actually be very beneficial for your dogs health.
Note - Dogs breathe and sweat through their paws, during summer only use recommended high quality summer boots.
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(price as of May 3, 2015)
But They Are Dogs, They Never Played Dress Up in The Wild
So some people argue this point but we were not born with shoes on our feet or clothes on our backs either. Once there was a time when we couldn't treat our dogs for worms, fleas and other undesirable health problems, advances in these ways to protect our dogs before the problems arise, have now become available to us and we use them to look after our canine companions and save them suffering. Surely it can't be too hard for us to see that suitable dog attire can also be aimed at improving dogs lives by intercepting different health and safety hazards before these event happen. There are some great dog boots available now days, some that even come recommended by veterinarians worldwide and are amazingly helpful for dogs that suffer with problems such as hip dysplasia, degenerative myelopathy and arthritis . Also a common problem owners face is having a dog that tends to drag its paws, in this scenario, boots can protect your dog from getting problematic sores and wounds.
So Just Who's Woofing About These Products?
Credit: chopsooyPolice and Military Dogs, Search and Rescue Dogs, Sled Dogs and Agility Dogs are all touting these kinds of booties and safety wear. Muttluks dog boots were famously used by the search and rescue dogs at ground zero, the scene of the 9/11 disaster.
My own opinions about dog apparel have drastically changed in the last few years. We are in fact, as dog owners, responsible for our dogs health and safety and owe it to our companions to keep their well-being in mind. Don't be concerned about what others may think, be a little thoughtful about what your dog may think. Of course there are many owners out there who do just want to make a fashion statement, enjoying the extra attention and flaunting their dogs like a fashion accessory...But if it's protection from the elements and environment that you're looking for, there are many high quality products out there to show your dog just how much you care and give him something to woof about.