Unlike humans, puppies tend to prefer the barefoot life. Their paws, whilst incredibly sturdy and built for daily walks and wear, still need to be properly cared for.
Rain or shine, our dogs need regular walks and exercise and, for more adventurous canine companions, they may even be exposed to rocky terrains and wild elements.
All of these things can have a significant effect on a pup’s paws and, if not regularly cleaned and checked, could lead to discomfort for your dog.
So, how can we make sure that our furry friends have clean and comfy feet all year round? We’ve got you covered!
In this blog we will take you through how to clean your dog’s paws thoroughly and effectively, easy ways to keep them soft and sore-free, as well as some of the best products on the market to help with this.
Reasons you should clean your dog's paws frequently
The main reason why most pet parents tend to their pup’s paws is to keep on top of their cleanliness. Clean dog paws are not only great for your pooch, ensuring that there are no nasties that they can lick off an ingest; it also helps save your house from muddy prints all over the furniture.
Dog paws can track in all sorts - dirt, bacteria, trash and even urine and feces - and so avoiding this getting into the house will reduce the risk of sickness or infection in the home, for both human and canine alike!
Both dogs and humans can have allergies to elements of the outside world, and if these are being brought into the home on the bottom of your dog’s paws, this can cause issues for every one who lives there.
If you know you or your dog are particularly prone to allergies, investing some time and energy into effectively cleaning your dog’s paws after taking them out can be very beneficial.
Reduce the risk of skin issues
There are any number of things that linger on the ground outside that can cause skin irritation for your dog; a build of dirt and bacteria, as well as salt, sand, certain chemicals and even extreme heat or cold can cause discomfort for a pooch’s paws.
These things can irritate the skin or make them dry or cracked which, if not tended to, can lead to infections and further issues.
Catch any injuries early
Cleaning your dog’s paw not only helps keep them looking good, it is also an opportunity to check for any injuries your dog may have gotten on their adventures.
Everything from cuts and scrapes to trapped stones or thorns can all be quickly seen-to if you keep up a regular check of your dog’s tootsies.
The best ways to clean your dog's paws
There are several ways that you can effectively clean your dog’s paws:
The portable dog paw cleaner
The Paw Buddy portable dog paw cleaner is a nifty bit of kit (if we do say so ourselves!) that makes paw cleaning easy and efficient. This easy-to-grip BPA-free tumbler contains soft, thick silicone bristles which work like a mini agitation washer to get into all the nooks and crannies of puppy paws, making for effective cleaning.
Simply fill with water, pop in the dirty paws, give the tumbler a twist or two and voila! Particularly useful to take with you in the car for quick post-walk washes.
Wet rag with some soap
There is nothing wrong with the classics. A simple rag soaked in warm water and dog-safe soap can be super effective in cleaning paws - you have full control and can make sure to wash in all those hard-to-reach places. Just make sure to be gentle and to use a soft rag, as being too rough can be uncomfortable for your dog and give them a negative memory of paw-cleaning, which we definitely don’t want.
Remember to also regularly swap out your rag for a clean one, after using on your pup’s paws.
Dog cleaning wipes
Dog-safe cleaning wipes are also an option for any pet parent wanting to make sure their dog has squeaky-clean paws. Wipes can be good for really getting between the paw pads, as well as cleaning the claws, due to their thin and pliable texture.
If you want to go down the dog wipe route, make sure to do your research and find a pup-safe and non-irritant option, as wipes can have a deceptive amount of chemicals or perfumes in them.
Whether you are simply dipping a paw in or going for a full dog bath situation, this admittedly more time consuming option is exceptionally effective and getting rid of all the lingering nasties that could be on your dog’s paws, or even in their hair.
Warm water, doggy shampoo and either a sponge or cloth will do the trick nicely. Be sure to thoroughly rinse with water afterwards, to be confident that all the suds have been washed away and won’t cause irritation.
While not all dogs are a fan of booties, they can be a great way to keep your pup’s feet both clean AND warm when out and about. There are dog booties for pretty much every size and breed on the market, and while these can be very much trial and error, they are definitely worth considering for the more compliant furry friend!
Particularly useful in winter, when some people may put salt down on the ground.
Home Remedies: vinegar and coconut
It is also possible to create effective cleaning and moisturizing products with things you may already have at home. A known dog-safe paw cleaning agent plus a mixture of equal parts apple cider vinegar and water is a great DIY option to keep cleaning chemical free.
Keeping paws pads soft and smooth will help reduce dryness and cracking after cleaning - why not try coconut oil, vitamin E oil, beeswax or shea butter as home remedies for maintaining paw moisture. Just keep a close eye on your pup, as they may want to lick it off when you’re not looking!
What else to do after the walk
Cleaning is not the only thing to consider after taking your pup on an outdoor excursion:
Check for cuts on paw pads
The outside world is not always a soft space, twigs and thorns, stones and even trash can have sharp edges which may slice into your poor pooch’s paw. Always double check your dog’s paws for any cuts, scrapes or deeper wounds after taking them outside; should you find anything, be sure to apply a dog-safe antiseptic and monitor them closely.
If you are in any doubt or are at all concerned about your dog’s condition, always consult your vet.
Trim the excess fur
Too much fur between the paw pads and around the claws can be a breeding ground for bacteria, as dirt will often cling to the hair, drying and even causing matts.
By keeping their toe bean fur nice and short, you reduce this risk significantly.
Moisturizing and conditioning paw pads
It is super important to moisturize your dog’s paw pads after cleaning - this will keep them in a good soft condition, as paw pads can be prone to dryness, cracking and changes in texture.
The Bottom Line
No matter how you choose to clean your dog’s paws, getting your dog into a proper cleaning routine post-walk can be an important step in the training process.
If you can, try and introduce your dog to paw cleaning while they are young - this will get them into the habit from an early age, they will get to know that this is just how things are done and are less likely to fuss.
As your dog gets more senior, it is important to be gentle and more mindful of your dog’s physical state, being sure to properly dry them off and warm them up after bath time.
With the right products, patience and a lotta love, your pup may even come to enjoy their paws being cleaned, a lot of owners find that their dogs even doze off!
Learn how Potty Buddy™ products help pet-parents keep their homes clean and their pets comfortable
Leak-Free Potty Pad
A durable and super-absorbent potty pad that can be washed and reused for years. It saves money and the planet.