If your dog is recovering from surgery or sutures, or if he compulsively chews or licks his paws or legs, dog socks are a great alternative to an Elizabethan collar. They'll prevent paw chewing and associated hair loss and skin damage while giving your dog's skin time to heal.
Purchase dog socks at your local pet store so that your dog can try them on before you buy them. Ideally, the socks will cover the area your dog chews or licks, plus an additional several inches. They should be tight enough to stay up, but loose enough to pull on easily.
Calm your dog down by petting him and talking to him. If he is small enough, hold him in your lap. If not, get down on the floor with him. Allow him to see and smell the socks before you put them on.
Scrunch each sock by placing your thumbs on either side of the opening and your fingers at the base of the sock. Spread it out with your thumbs until the opening is wide enough to slip your dog's foot through.
Slide the sock over your dog's toenails and paw, being very careful not to snag a toenail with the fabric. Straighten the sock as you pull it up. If you snag a toenail and cause your dog any pain, wait awhile before trying again. If you rush it, your dog may associate the socks with discomfort.
Allow your dog to adjust to the feeling of the first sock before putting on the others. Stay with him to make sure he does not pull or shake the sock loose.
Repeat the process with the other three socks.
Remove your dog's socks when he is fully supervised, goes outside or bathes. The socks should remain on at all other times to prevent compulsive chewing. In the meantime, work with a professional dog behaviorist or seek help from your veterinarian to eliminate or redirect your dog's compulsive behavior.
- If your veterinarian has prescribed an anti-itch cream or other medication for your dog's paws or legs, put the medication on before the socks.
- Make a temporary dog sock by using one of your old socks and tying it closed around your dog's leg.
- Make sure your dog has plenty of toys to chew on. This may decrease her compulsive paw chewing.
- Socks that are too tight can impair circulation and cause pain. You should be able to easily slip a couple of fingers between the sock and your dog's leg.
- Avoid using rubber or waterproof socks, as these will become wet with sweat and worsen your dog's symptoms.
- Consult your veterinarian if your dog chews the socks or refuses to wear them.
Sandra Ketcham has nearly two decades of experience writing and editing for major websites and magazines. Her work appears in numerous web and print publications, including "The Atlanta Journal-Constitution," "The Tampa Bay Times," Visit Florida, "USA Today," AOL's Gadling and "Kraze Magazine."