Boots for Dogs... Ducks, and Penguins too. Oh My!

Updated: Jan 19

We've seen shoes and boots for feet, paws, and hooves. But can you believe that there are also special “boots” for webbed feet? Yup, companies like Thera-Paw, Inc. make booties for our feathered friends who are in desperate need of special footwear. Meet "Enrique"!

Photo courtesy Kimberly Washington

Enrique is a Southern Rockhopper Penguin who lives at the St Louis Zoo with 19 other penguins, including his special lady friend, Paris. He's a very unusual penguin because the typical life span of a Rockhopper is 10 years and Enrique is 30…YES, 30 years old! Enrique has arthritis in his feet, and St. Louis Zoo staff veterinarian Jimmy Johnson, DVM, MS, CertAqV, DACZM felt that padded booties would improve Enrique's comfort and mobility. Here's an excerpt from the Veterinary Practice News story where Enrique made a splash:


excerpt from Veterinary Practice News

"Johnson conceived a type of boot to give Enrique sufficient ankle support while also cushioning the bottoms of his feet, and reached out to Thera-Paw, a company traditionally known for rehabilitative and assistive products for dogs and cats, to create a custom-made prototype...Interestingly, Enrique is not the first penguin to receive an orthotic from Thera-Paw, says president and CEO Ilaria Borghese. “We’ve had a number of zoos contact us,” she notes. “We’ve made boots for penguins, flamingos, and black-neck swans, all with different issues.


”These boots have made a huge difference in Enrique's quality of life. Dr. Johnson noted that the little geriatric penguin is now much more comfortable and active, engaging in normal daily activities like climbing and socializing, which were difficult for him before his boots. Thera-Paw even made sure that the boots matched Enrique’s colors. That's a dapper bird! For the full Veterinary Practice News article, see Real Life, Happy Feet. Now Meet "Wrinkle"!

Wrinkle, an emotional support Pekin duck, was a runaway hit when she joined her owner to race in this year's NYC Marathon. Wrinkle ran in the race along with her human counterparts sporting homemade red shoes to protect her feet from the rough parts of the city streets. Wrinkle may not have won the Marathon, but she became an instant sensation with the crowd cheering her on as she waddled by! Adidas and Peloton even commented on this runaway rock star. Check out the full story here: People Can't Get Enough of this Duck Running the NYC Marathon - Shoes and All. Adidas and Thera-Paw should combine forces to develop a fab line of fowl-friendly, fashionable footwear. Who needs to fly when you have happy feet!

This article first appeared in Vital Vet

A Vital Vet Publication Let’s work together and give them the best life possible!

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