Well winter has officially arrived and my dog Maggie Mae is not a fan of all this snow. She's rather scared of snowploughs and shovels. Yes, she's weird like that. She also doesn't like getting snow on her paws. When she goes outside, little clumps of snow get stuck in between her toes and drive her crazy. If she's outside on a walk she will constantly stop to try to lick out the snow from her feet. This makes for a very long walk and a very unhappy puppy. Luckily Maggie has a pair of snow boots! I think they're so cute, but she's pretty mortified by them. In fact, five seconds after I took the photo above, she ran and hid her face in shame. She may be ashamed of her boots, but they work. And she walks happily with them on once she's outside. But I've heard many people say boots are bad for dogs because it decreases their traction in the snow. So I decided to an expert to find out if dogs really need winter boots. Dr. Nicole Gallant is a veterinarian in Kensington, P.E.I. and the vice-president of the Canadian Veterinarian Medical Association. I talked to her about what to look for in a dog boot and what alternatives there are to keep snow and salt out of your dog's paws. Do dogs need winter boots and are they safe for pets to wear? When considering whether to wear winter boots on your dog one should consider the breed and the individual sensitivities of the dog. Many breeds do very well without boots for short walks and the decision to wear them should be made individually. If the dog is sensitive to salt on the road and your walks are usually on the road then getting the dog trained to wear boots is a good option. Keep in mind that all dogs need to get used to wearing boots before using them for an extended period of time. Starting the young dog with boots for small periods of time will make the process much easier when you need to put boots on your dog for whatever reason. It goes without saying that dogs that have a tendency to ingest things should be kept under supervision when they have boots on. Some boots are made from leather and may be digested if ingested but others are not and it wouldn’t be good to have to deal with a foreign body boot in the digestive tract. What should owners look for in a winter boot? A good fit that allows the paw to spread out when the dog walks and one that tapers above the foot and is easy to secure and get on and off for the human. The boot should be easy to clean and should have good traction for the dog. Are there any alternatives to boots that will protect your dog’s paws from salt and snow? Keeping long haired dog’s paws trimmed will help minimize the amount of snow buildup and make it easier to wash out salt. Using such things as cooking sprays on paws before going for a walk will help keep the snowballs under control. There are a number of lanolin based ointments/creams that can be applied to the feet and pads to help protect from salt and snow buildup. No matter what product is used it MUST be non-toxic and consumable. Remember that dogs will lick and ingest anything you put on them. After a walk where there is salt on the road, a dog’s paws should at least be wiped if not washed to remove the irritating salt. If your dog is sensitive to the salt then boots may be the best option. How do you keep your dog's paws clean in the snow?