Grooming
Share this image

How to Keep Your Dog’s Paws Clean and Healthy

Go beyond the basic nail trim to help your pup avoid allergic reactions, cracked pads, and other hazards and health issues.

Melissa L. Kauffman  |  Nov 15th 2016


When we think about paw care, we usually think about the nails. But paw care is so much more than trimming your dog’s nails. Wiping the paws off after walking your dog outside is a must-do. Paws soak up all types of not-so-good things and bring them into your house. What’s worse is dogs lick their paws and ingest things that can either be toxic or cause an allergic reaction.

National Certified Master Groomer Carolyn Contois has a doctoral degree as an animal naturopath and is an ASAN certified specialist who does wellness consulting in Long Island, New York. She gave us some paw care tips, including that wiping your dog’s paws “will give you a chance to inspect the pads for cuts, sores, and debris.”

To wipe your dog’s paws, use plain warm water and some apple cider vinegar, or wipes formulated for dogs. Read the label on the dog wipes. Some ingredients used in wipes are not safe for dogs and can be harmful if ingested — even ingredients in baby wipes! Do your research and check with your veterinarian.

Trimming paw hair

To trim or not to trim, that is the question. “Trimming the feet can reduce the amount of dirt that dogs bring into the house, and it makes it easier to check for ticks and burrs,” Dr. Contois said. “On the flip side, the hair protects the pads from the elements. Depending on individual lifestyles, your dog may be better off with the hair left intact.”

Dog paw by Shutterstock.

Dog paw by Shutterstock.

Cracked pads

“Cracked pads can result from running on rough surfaces, temperature changes, or as a symptom of underlying physical disturbances in the body,” Contois said. She added that paws can “puncture, scrape, burn, and freeze. After all, the pads of our dog’s feet were never meant to walk on asphalt, tar, and cement. The damage can lead to secondary infections.”

If your dog experiences cracked paws, first step is to go to your vet to check that there isn’t a medical problem. If it is not a medical issue, Contois recommended monitoring the situation to make sure the paws are not bleeding, plus change your daily routine or cover up the paws with dog booties.

Today you’ll find a variety of dog paw protection products on the market like booties and paw balms. If you are going to use a paw balm, Contois said, “It should be breathable and water resistant. ‘Breathable’ products are from organic sources like shea butter, beeswax, or lanolin. Mineral based (inorganic) products are petroleum distillates and clog the surface of the skin. Other ingredients to look for are essential oils or herb mixtures that are antiseptic, anti-viral, and anti-fungal. Lavender, chickweed, goldenseal, and neem are just a sampling of ingredients that can soothe and protect active canine pads.”

Dogs lick their paws, so whatever you put on their paws will undoubtedly go in their bodies. Use sparingly, and if your dog shows any type of adverse reaction, discontinue the product. Always do your research first, and check with your vet.

If your dog’s paws are being thrashed by concrete, consider investing in some booties to protect them. “Booties have also gained popularity with small urban walkers,” Contois said. “If your dog can learn to tolerate them, it’s a great option for dirty city streets.” Wearing booties reduces dogs’ traction, so use them for walking rather than activities like running and playing

Extra-posh paw care

Photo courtesy Warren London.

Frenchie with painted nails courtesy Warren London.

Today, there are products on the market just focused on paw care. Warren London, an all-natural dog spa product company, came out with several of these posh paw care products.

“Paw care is extremely important for dogs as it is a hotbed for bacteria, fungus, and germs,” said Eric Bittman, CEO and president of Warren London. “Due to this, many dogs lick their paws for long periods of time each day. Keeping the paws clean and eliminating any fungus and bacteria will make your pup extremely happy!”

Warren London launched Deep Cleaning Paw Fizz Tablets, with ingredients to help eliminate fungus and bacteria, as well as give paws a deep cleaning. The company also has Grapeseed Oil Paw & Nose Revitalizer and Hydrating Butter to keep paws moisturized and hydrated every day.

Want to add a little sparkle? Warren London has a line of Pawdicure Polish Pens. Bittman said they are the No. 1 nail polish in the dog industry. “These Polish Pens are quick drying — usually under 40 seconds — odorless, water-based, and nontoxic,” he said. “Our bibs are slightly pointed, which can allow owners to apply nail art.”