All Weather Service Pups
*Credit for this section of the article goes to a good friend and fellow New Horizons Service Dog Handler, Sue & her service dog, Nestle.
When spending time in the great outdoors it’s important to make sure your dog is properly equipped just like you make sure you have planned for the day yourself. With winter still upon us we have to consider what our pups wear as utility and not just as a fashion statement.
Many breeds aren’t meant to be in the climates we’ve brought them to. A Chihuahua, originally from Mexico, finds the New York winters to be a bit much and will shiver from more than just being nervous. Some breeds require wearing a coat in these colder climates and care must be taken on the length of time spent outside based on outside temperature and breed.
The same is true for dog boots. It’s hilarious to see a pup try these on for the first time. They walk like their feet aren’t necessarily attached and do crazy aerobatics to try to get these little torture devices off but in many cases they can be useful. The key with any type of equipment is the proper use of it. (New Horizons service dog, Mozart, shown below)
Dogs sweat through their paws. In the heat of summer dog boots can be great for protecting a pups pads from being burned on the hot pavement but by the same token, if the boots are left on too long without frequent rest breaks and adequate time in the shade a dog can be easily overcome by heat stroke. We live in the theme park capital of the world - Florida, USA. Working dogs go to theme parks with their handlers and the pavement can reach scorching temperatures. The outside temp may reach 95°F but the pavement could be as high as 130°F! Ground temperatures as low as 120°F can begin to cause pain, while 140°F can cause burns and scars after prolonged contact, and 150°F can cause rapid blistering.
It’s important to make sure the dog’s paws are protected against the extreme heat. Boots can be used to protect from heat but breaks should be taken to properly insure your pup can cool down. Many handlers will buy cooling vests to help keep their pup cooler and stop frequently for rest and drink breaks. Pad Wax is also a great tool to use if you are not spending great amounts of time on hot pavement. With pad wax it’s important to reapply often to insure your pup doesn’t get their pads burned. Their coats are designed to help cool them down and keep their skin from burning but it’s still important to make sure they have the chance to cool off and stay hydrated. Misting their underside is a great way to cool them down but use cool to temperate water. Ice cold water can cause shock.
In the colder climates snow can cause issues with a pups paws as well as the salt used to melt the snow.The irritation and stinging of the salt can make a pup’s paws raw. Using dog boots is a great way to protect your pup from the ice and snow and keep their pads from getting raw. If you don’t have booties and your pup loves to play in the snow you can still protect with pad wax or even use a non-stick spray like PAM cooking spray! It’s important to wipe and clean their paws each time to get the snow and salt off the paws. Vaseline is also great for protection with the snow and salt. Some handlers have also used coconut oils on their pup’s paws to protect against the elements. The key is to completely wipe your pup’s paws when they come in. This will remove any snow or salt that can cause irritation and keep them from leaving a trail of oily paw prints everywhere they go. (New Horizons service dog, Revere, shown below)
All Weather Service Big Dogs
Coats/Outerwear: Make sure you pick the correct accessory for the appropriate dog bread and weather. Not all dogs need all kinds of coats, jackets, sweaters, etc. for all occasions. If worn these items should be removed immediately upon entering the home as dogs can overheat easily. Don’t Be Cute! Think of your dog first not fashion. Don’t Force It! Some dogs just will not wear anything. FIT is always important so try it on in the house and let your dog get used to it in a comfortable setting. Then try it outside.
Boots: If you are going to get boots/booties/shoes/etc. for your dog the most important thing is FIT! Be ready to try a lot of boots on to find the right ones. You should consider boots if your dog is routinely exposed to weather (snow), rough terrain, health issues, old age, etc. A dog’s paw pads and the areas in between them are sensitive. When you’re mapping your existence there’s numerous negative injuries a dog’s paw pads can sustain. It’s possible for the paws to get cut on rocks or wear out if you take your dog hiking on rocky mountain trails or sprinting on hard pavement. Dog boots can protect against this.
If your dog flat out refuses to wear boots you can still protect his paws. To help prevent cracked and bleeding paws apply Petroleum Jelly (Vaseline) or Paw Wax to your dog’s paws before your dog goes outside. Just remember this method wears off, so if you are hiking you will need to reapply often. Soak paws a few seconds in a bowl of warm water the second your dog comes inside, then dry the paws thoroughly. To help prevent junk stuck between the toes which can cut the feet or cause your dawg to pimp limp trim the hair between the toes.
Goggles: Dog eyewear protects your dog’s eyes from UV rays and over-exposure to bright sunlight, numerous chronic canine eye diseases and conditions, pink eye, etc. Not all eyewear was created equal for working dogs. For working dogs site is essential and most will also test the protection limits of their eyewear. Because of that I trust Rex Specs and Doggles for my service dog. If you chose eyewear it is essential that the eyewear is measured properly before ordering and then FIT properly on your dog. To be successful it is of the utmost importance that your dog is trained to wear the eyewear. Rex Specs lays out an entire training program for you and shows you step by step how to fit and how to slowly introduce your dog to the goggles. (I do have to confess my personal favorites are the goggles with the windshield washers. I mean why not J!)
- DON’T BE CUTE!
- DON’T FORCE IT!
- FIT – FIT – FIT!
All the Best,
BigT & Da Big Boyz Crew
OneTigris LiFE Ambassadors
Likes: OneTigris and Andy Z.