Most dogs love to play in the snow, but some might need some extra protection when temperatures drop. For canine winter gear tips, I called Louisa Morrissey, owner of Glenwood Springs, Colorado–based High Country Dogs, which trains dogs specifically for winter conditions. Here are the five essentials she recommends.
Musher’s Secret Paw Protection ($19 for 7 Ounces)
“[Musher’s Secret] has been in the sled-dog world for a long time,” Morrissey says. The nontoxic, wax-based protector prevents snow from clumping up on dogs’ paws. It’s particularly useful for dogs with long hair, like golden retrievers. If your dog will be in deep snow, Morrissey suggests also putting the wax on your dog’s stomach, tail, and haunches. Just apply it immediately before heading outside, otherwise your dog will lick it off.
Pawz Natural Rubber Dog Boots (From $12)
“The primary reason I use booties is to stop pads from getting cut on abrasive snow,” Morrissey says. She prefers inexpensive booties since dogs have a tendency to lose them. Her top recommendation: Pawz, because they’re biodegradable and thin, which makes it easier for a dog to keep its balance. “If you were used to flip-flops or bare feet, and all of a sudden you’re given thick boots, you’d have trouble balancing, too,” Morrissey says.
Kurgo Collaps a Bowl ($10)
Always bring water for your dog, even in the winter when you’re surrounded by snow. Morrissey likes to bring an extra liter, plus a collapsible bowl. We like the Kurgo Collaps a Bowl because it’s made from dishwasher-friendly, food-grade silicone and collapses down to less than an inch tall. Tip: When dogs get into work or herding mode, they often don’t want to drink. Morrissey puts bouillon in the water to make it more enticing.
Ruffwear Approach Pack ($80)
Morrissey likes to have her dogs carry their own water and treats, so she uses a simple pack with a chest strap like the Approach from Ruffwear. The chest strap, which runs under the dog from its neck to its belly, prevents the pack from sliding. Plus, the pack gives your dog a bit of added insulation.
Nooksack Racing Dog Parka ($35)
“Of all of the coats I’ve tried, I like these the best. They’re easy to put on and do the job well,” Morrissey says. Of course, not every dog needs the same level of insulation. If you have a dog with a lot of fur, a thick coat will make it overheat, and if you have a northern breed like a husky or malamute, you can forgo the jacket altogether.