The design of a dog’s paw allows it to absorb impact through its pads, handle various types of rugged terrain, and wear down its claws, Shoes for dogs, however, can sometimes serve a purpose. A great deal of canine footwear serves only as a decorative accessory; these types of shoes frequently irritate the dog and affect the movement of its paws. Some types of shoes for dogs, however, are useful in preventing infections, providing structural support, and assisting in the healing process of a paw or leg injury.
Some people do buy shoes for dogs in an attempt to make a fashion statement. These shoes are usually constructed of vinyl, leather, or rubber, and are available in a multitude of colors and styles. Most canines do not willingly don footwear, and thus the shoes are typically attached to the dog’s paw with Velcro® straps. The shoes might have accessorized laces, but most often they resemble heavy-duty socks that slide on and off the dog’s paws.
More practical types of shoes for dogs include those that serve a protective purpose. A dog tends to lick medication from an injury on the leg or paw, and has a natural tendency to tear at a bandage with its teeth. Veterinarians often suggest specially designed canine boots for dogs with such wounds. These shoes for dogs might slip over the paw area, or they might stretch higher up the leg.
Medical boots for dogs are usually made of strong nylon impervious to a dog’s teeth. The boots are waterproof, flexible, and often padded on the inside to provide comfort. A medical dog boot not only covers a bandage, it also keeps it dry. This prevents a worsening of infection, and also saves the dog’s owner the frustration of reapplying a bandage and medication many times a day.
Some veterinarian-approved shoes for dogs are used in post-operative settings. This type of oversized paw covering is capable of encasing splints, sutures, or casts. The shoe or boot is reinforced to provide stability, allowing the dog's wound or broken limb to heal or mend at an accelerated pace.
Some military and police dogs are equipped with boots or shoes. Search and rescue or cadaver dogs traverse territory that is commonly covered with broken glass, pieces of jagged metal, and toxic substances. These dogs are intelligent, and undergo several years of training in order to perform highly specialized tasks. They have an intense focus, and will sometimes step into debris fields that might cause serious injury. Rescue dogs are often outfitted with a type of shoe featuring a sole resistant to materials that might cut or slice a paw.