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Why Dogs Don't Wear Shoes
It’s cold outside; there’s ice all over the driveway, and your loving Pebbles has to to go pee. Chances are you are not going to put on her Air Jordan shoes, so she can go outside. You’ve never really thought about the fact that you don’t have to put shoes on your dog. Pebbles has always been fine, but why is this? You know that if you went out barefoot, there would be some major consequences, but Pebbles goes out, does her deed, and seems as happy as can be when she comes back in. It’s a mystery to you.
The Root of the Behavior
Many can agree that dogs are amazing creatures and the intricate system within Pebble’s paws proves this. Dog paws have adapted to the cold and are able to withstand ice for long amounts of time. Most dogs do not need to wear shoes because of their high body temperature. The tissue in your dog’s paw is actually designed to protect her from down to -35 degrees Celsius.
One study done in Japan found that when a dog’s pad is exposed to cold, it actually recirculates heat back to the body core. A dog’s paw is a complicated system of veins and arteries, and the pads drain warm blood to the skin keeping them warm. Cold blood is also warmed in paws before being redistributed to the rest of body. Couple that system with the paw’s freeze-resistant tissue and fat, and a dog’s paw becomes similar to a penguin’s wing, according to Tim Newcomb of Time.com. This complex system in a dog’s paw is also similar to that of the Arctic fox. Moreover, paws are insulated and are the toughest skin on the entire body. It appears that dogs were actually designed to withstand this type of cold. In other words, Pebbles seems fine outside because she was designed for it.
Most dogs don't like to wear shoes because they are unnatural and according to above, most don’t actually need them. Shoes can also throw off a dog’s balance and friction. The pads of a dog have a gripping texture that allows them to cling to a variety of surfaces, such as rainy roads, dirt, floors, etc. Dog shoes are similar to when humans wear socks on a slippery surface, when our grips are gone, we start to slide. Lastly, some shoes may actually irritate a dog’s skin. Make sure you check what materials the shoes are made of before slapping them on Pebbles.
Encouraging the Behavior
Although dog paws are designed for the cold, there are some instances in which dog shoes can be beneficial. Service dogs who are frequently going up on metal ramps sometimes wear shoes because they are constantly on hot surfaces. These shoes help protect the dogs from burning their feet. Similarly, if you live in an area that has very hot weather, you might want to have your dog wear shoes while walking on the hot tar.
In Germany, police dogs wear little blue booties due to the glass shards left primarily by drunks (no joke). The dogs were constantly being cut and wounded, and these booties now prevent that. Dogs that race on the Iditarod also wear boots because they are in the cold for longer amounts of time than most dogs and are also running over rough terrain. These boots help to keep their paws safe and prevent ice and dirt from getting in between their pads. Tiny dogs also may benefit from wearing shoes because they have more trouble retaining heat. If you do choose to buy shoes for your dog, you should make sure to find shoes that are waterproof and have anti-slip features. You also want to make sure they are easy to get one but do not slip off your dog as soon as she begins walking. Also, try to find some shoes that are flexible and have a thick sole.
Other Solutions and Considerations
As stated above, most dogs don’t have to wear shoes and most dogs don’t like wearing shoes, but there are many companies that now cater to this interesting accessory. Dogs have a complex system of veins and arteries that keep their feet warm and their paws are incredibly durable, so shoes are not really a necessity. However, there are instances when shoes could benefit dogs. Service dogs, police, dogs, smaller dogs, and race dogs all have specific needs in which booties might be the answer. If you do decide that your dog needs some shoes, it might take some training to get your dog to actually wear them. The shoes may feel unnatural, and you may have to start with massaging your dog's feet to get them use to the touch on their paws. You also should try putting the shoes on for short amounts of time just around the house, then work your way to your pooch going outside for longer amounts of time.
So realistically, Pebbles doesn’t really need shoes to go outside and take her morning wee. She’s also not planning on running the Iditarod or being a police dog anytime soon, so relying on her natural paws opposed to boots seems to work for her. Some owners love the fashion statement that shoes provide, and if this is the case, you could try to put some shoes on your fur ball, but she may not be a fan, but then again, anything is paw-sible.
By a Shiba Inu lover Patty Oelze
Published: 02/07/2018, edited: 01/30/2020
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