Protecting Dog Paws
Whether you live in the frigid cold or sweltering heat, you may be asking, “Are dog shoes necessary for my large dog?”
WE wear shoes to protect OUR feet. Shouldn’t they wear dog shoes to protect their paws?
Depending on where you live, the answer may be an emphatic YES, or a NO, save your money.
By the end of this post, you will learn:
- Why snow and ice in the winter pose a danger to your dog
- 5 tips for protecting your dog’s paws in winter
- How to condition your dog to wear dog shoes
- And our full unbiased review of the Kurgo Blaze Cross Dog Shoes for large dogs
** Kurgo kindly sent Junior and Sulley a pair of Blaze Cross Dog Shoes to test out for this honest review, however, all of the information I am sharing is based on our experience and my opinions – the good and the bad. In addition, this post contains affiliate links from which I may receive a small compensation. There is NO ADDED COST to you should you use these links.**
The Danger of Cold on Dog Paws
Winter poses a plethora of threats to your dog, not the least of which is the potential for hypothermia from extremely cold temperatures.
Not only can snow and ice increase your dog’s risk of frostbite and dry out their paw pads, but the built-up snow and ice can also irritate the sensitive skin between their toes.
Dry and cracked paw pads can lead to many health issues including pain and discomfort.
Additionally, if you are walking your dog on the sidewalk, salt and de-icing chemicals can cause chemical burns to their paw pads or indigestion if your dog tries to lick it off.
Here is a summary of the many risks your dog faces in the winter:
- Dryness, cracking, chapping
- Paw injury
- Slipping on ice
5 Tips for Protecting Your Dog’s Paws in Winter
1.Check Paws Frequently
The key to any prevention is early detection.
Be sure to check your dog’s paws daily and after every walk outside. Look between toes on the top and the underside of the paw.
Is the skin purple or red and inflamed? Does your dog lick or seem obsessed with his paws?
Are your dog’s paw pads dry or cracked?
Does your dog pull his paws away when you examine them gently?
These are just a few of the general observations about dog paws that you will want to make part of your winter daily routine.
2. Moisturize Dog Paws
Ideally, you should moisturize your dog’s paws before and after spending time outside in the cold, snow, and ice.
Not only will this prevent drying and cracking of the paw pads, it gives you an opportunity to observe possible injuries before they become serious.
I use a product called Musher’s Secret Paw Protection Natural Dog Wax during the wintertime.
Musher’s Secret is 100% all-natural wax which creates a breathable dense barrier to repel the ice and snow away from your dog’s paws while moisturizing them.
3. Shorten Walks
When the temperatures plunge, you may consider foregoing the mile-long trek outside.
Your big dog will love the variety and so will his paws.
4. Keep Paws Well-Groomed
No matter what breed of dog you have, you want to make sure you keep their paws well-groomed.
For coated breeds that may mean clipping hair around the paws and in between the toes to prevent matting and moisture.
Remember, yeast love a warm, moist paw. So the more you can do to make your dog’s paws inhospitable, the better.
And for ALL breeds, being ‘well-groomed’ means keeping dog nails trimmed short.
When a dog’s nails are too long, all activities in winter are going to be more difficult and potentially more painful.
5. Dog Shoes!
Protecting your dog’s paws in winter can be as simple as slipping on a pair of all-weather dog shoes.
The rest of this post is dedicated to this topic as we explore in-depth the Kurgo Blaze Cross Dog Shoes for large dogs.
Kurgo Blaze Cross Dog Shoes
Before getting to the point where we could test out the Kurgo Dog Shoes, we needed to first measure to get a proper fit and then condition the boys to them to ensure a positive association with them.
How to Properly Size a Dog Shoe
Getting the proper fit dog shoe is super easy.
Simply take a white sheet of paper and place it under your dog’s front paw while they are standing.
Draw a line on both sides of the paw at the widest point.
Measure between the two lines and select the proper size based on that width.
Sulley measures approximately 3.25,” so the size XL is perfect for him.
Now that we have properly fitted dog shoes for Sulley, let’s begin the process of putting them on him.
How To Condition Your Dog To Wearing Dog Shoes
Conditioning is KEY!
So many dog owners will unbox their dog’s new shoes and immediately shove their dog’s paws into them. We’ve all seen the videos on Instagram of dogs tip-toeing around with new boots, very obviously tormented by them.
I usually scroll past these as I am consumed with fury at ignorant dog owners and pity for their canine victims.
So, please don’t just grab a new pair of dog shoes and neglect the most important step for long-term success: conditioning!
In this case, we are pairing Sulley’s new Kurgo Blaze Cross Dog Shoes with some yummy treats so that every time the dog shoes come out, Sulley is excited to put them on.
At its core, conditioning is introducing something in baby steps (and with food) so as to not scare or overwhelm your dog.
Let’s see the steps I took with Sulley one by one.
Each step took a few minutes every day over the course of a couple of weeks from introduction to stepping outside. (To see a visual of this process, click here…)
- Unbox the dog shoes and sit with the dog – don’t touch the shoes or your dog – simply offer treats each time your dog looks at or sniffs at the dog shoes.
- Pick up the dog shoes, let your dog sniff them, and offer some more treats. Use tiny soft treats for easy quick consumption.
- While holding the dog boots in one hand, touch your dog’s paws with the other and offer some treats.
- As long as your dog is not showing any calming signals, you can try to slip one dog boot on a back paw. Offer lots of treats. Put the boot on and take it off immediately.
- Repeat over a few days, putting on a boot and taking it off. Repeat for each paw. On and off. Lots of treats.
- Put on a single dog shoe and encourage your dog to walk around a little. Offer lots of treats. Take dog shoe back off.
- Repeat with more than one dog boot. Encourage indoor walking with the shoes on. Offer lots of treats.
- Continue to repeat this process until your dog shows no signs of stress or discomfort with the dog boots while walking. Now you are ready to head outside!
- Continue to offer treats every time you get the dog shoes out. Between the treats and the reward of going on a new adventure outside, your dog will learn to LOVE his new Kurgo Dog Shoes!!
**If this is not the first time your dog has worn dog shoes, I still recommend going through this conditioning process for each new pair your dog wears. Even small changes in shoe fit can make a huge difference to your dog so it’s best to introduce them slowly if you want your dog to love them.**
Kurgo Blaze Cross Dog Shoes Review
Sulley has been wearing his Kurgo Dog Shoes for several months – plenty of time to be able to honestly share how well they performed for a giant breed dog.
Before we get into this review… a little background first…
Last winter Sulley started to pick his paws up out of the snow when the temperatures dipped into the teens and single digits.
When I would notice him doing that I would bring him inside and immediately wipe his paws and warm him up. There was nothing wrong with his paws, except the extreme cold which for him was quite uncomfortable.
With this background, my review of the Kurgo Blaze Cross Dog Shoes is, in part, an assessment of Sulley’s comfort in the snow this winter (with his new dog shoes) compared to his behavior last winter.
As always, I review products across four categories (Quality, Durability, Affordability, and Drool Score) with a rating of 1 – 5 paws for awesomeness.
These performance ratings are specific to large and giant breed dogs ONLY.
Let’s get started…
VIDEO: How To Protect Dog Paws in Winter | Kurgo Blaze Cross Dog Shoes Review [PRO’S & CON’S]
The Kurgo Blaze Cross Dog Shoes are made with premium quality construction that was obvious right out of the box.
Where the top mesh and bottom rubber sole come together there are no gaps and the stitching between the layers of mesh fabric is quality as well.
Anytime you have multiple moving parts, you can have failure in quality. We did not experience that with these dog shoes.
The cinch cord and velcro straps are quality-made and performed as expected.
According to Kurgo:
“The thick bottom soles are designed to replicate the structure of the dog’s pads, and the tightly woven nylon mesh are water-resistant, with breathable, synthetic leather uppers.”Kurgo
And for adventures after dark, the Kurgo Dog Shoes are accented in reflective trim. When paired with their Molle LED light, your dog will be able to safely and comfortably explore at night in the winter.
In all, we award the Kurgo Blaze Cross Dog Shoes a solid 4.5 paws of awesomeness, with a minor deduction of half a paw for not being manufactured in the USA.
Let’s move on and see how well these dog shoes held up under the beating of my crazy Mastiff, Sulley.
As a direct result of the premium quality construction, we found the Kurgo Blaze Cross Dog Shoes held up extraordinarily well for the beating they endured on Sulley.
I was worried about the straps and cinch cord initially, but both held up perfectly and performed as needed to get a proper fit on Sulley’s paws.
The grip on the bottom was fantastic overall. Only a few times did I notice Sulley slip a little on the icy driveway. In the snow, he had no problems at all.
Because these are all-weather dog boots and can be worn in the summer to protect paws on hot pavement, the durability for large and giant breed dogs may depend on how much use they get in other climates and in other seasons.
Frankly, I wish I had these booties for dogs when we lived in the Arizona desert. Without them, poor Sulley rarely went on walks on the pavement.
Therefore, in terms of durability for large and giant breed dogs, we are awarding the Kurgo dog shoes a well-deserved 4.5 paws of awesomeness.
I am deducting half a paw for the fact that it was hard to get the dog boots on and cinched enough to prevent snow from entering at the top when Sulley was in deep snow.
This was not a huge issue, and frankly, not that much snow got in. And it certainly wasn’t enough to cause Sulley the slightest bit of discomfort.
At a price point of just $75.99, I feel the Kurgo Blaze Cross Dog Shoes are a tremendous value and worth the price being charged.
If you live where winters get cold and/or snowy, I cannot recommend these dog shoes enough for large and giant breed dogs!
Honestly, the price is not that high that most big dog owners would feel strapped to buy them.
While it is true that there are cheaper methods for protection for your dog’s paws such as Musher’s Secret, they are not a full-proof barrier. Not only will they not protect your dog’s paws from chemicals and salts on the road, but they also do nothing to prevent sequelae from extreme cold or heat.
So what did Sulley think of his new Kurgo dog shoes?
Put simply, Sulley loved them once we conditioned him. At first, he was quite skeptical.
As Junior calmly laid there happily waiting for me to try to put them on him, Sulley became anxious. It took me several days to work with Sulley before he was comfortable with any attempt to put the shoe on his paw.
And this is with a Mastiff who LOVES having his nails trimmed and paws handled.
For those of you with dogs who do not (yet) enjoy having their paws touched or nails trimmed, you will want to plan a little more time with the conditioning to these dog shoes.
Once Sulley was conditioned to the dog boots, he was off to the races and LOVED them!
With temperatures often in the negative single digits some days and between 4-9” of snow at any given time, Sulley was genuinely excited to get his shoes on and head outside for a long walk.
In summary, we are awarding the Kurgo Blaze Cross Dog Shoes a very solid and emphatic 4.5 paws of awesomeness.
I am deducting half a paw simply due to the fact that they aren’t really a product that is open and go. You really need to take your time with them and be patient with yourself and your dog.
These dog shoes are an investment in your dog’s comfort and wellness and shouldn’t be viewed as a frivolous accessory.
Kurgo Dog Shoes Review Summary
In summary, here are the pro’s and con’s as we experienced them while testing the Kurgo Blaze Cross Dog Shoes on a giant breed dog.
- Definitely made Sulley more comfortable in the snow and in freezing temperatures
- Premium quality construction undeniable
- Durable under the weight of a wild and crazy giant Mastiff
- Happier dog in colder temperatures
- Asset for weight loss and fitness routine
- Reflective trim awesome for night walks and potty breaks
- XL size should be able to fit most large and giant breed dog paws
- Need to strap tightly to prevent snow from seeping in at the top
- Somewhat difficult to put on – feel like you need three hands
- Conditioning required for ease of use and canine compliance
- XL size not quite big enough for Junior’s freakishly ginormous paws
- Dogs with nails too long may experience discomfort as nails will cause constant pressure on toes and paws as dog walks
Are Dog Shoes Necessary?
Whether you live where winters are cold and snowy or where summers are sweltering, dog shoes can be an asset that will protect your dog’s paws from the elements.
From dangerous frostbite and impacted snow to impaling thorns and branches, paw protection is an important responsibility for every dog owner.
At the very least, inexpensive dog shoes can provide backup protection – just something you keep in your dog’s travel bag as needed.
However, if your dog lives where the climate is anything but sunshine and 70’s year-round, or if you plan to walk or hike on rugged terrain, I highly recommend investing in the Kurgo Blaze Cross Dog Shoes today!
Your dog will be happy you did!
“A pair ofBig Dog Mom
running(dog) shoes and a dream can take you anywhere.”