Looking for some natural and gentle remedies to moisturize dog paws? Well, we have good news - you’ve come to the right place! Dry and cracked paws can cause your pooch a lot of pain, but it’s easier than you think to keep their little pads healthy.
While you may already have invested in a pair of the best dog nail clippers to give your pet the perfect at-home pedicure, it’s not unusual to overlook their paw pads. In fact, much like our own feet, we often forget that our pooch’s pads need regular maintenance to make sure those daily walks are a pleasurable experience.
Adding a few natural remedies into your dog grooming kit and applying them regularly will help keep your pup’s paws moisturized and crack-free. Below we reveal our favorite ways to moisturize dog paws, but first, let’s take a look at some of the causes behind this uncomfortable condition.
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What causes dry dog paws?
Dogs spend a lot of time running, jumping, fetching and just generally tearing about indoors and outdoors, so it’s no surprise that their paws can take quite the battering.
While there’s plenty of skin, bone, tendons, and connective tissue to protect their pads, even the toughest paw pads aren’t made of armor and they need plenty of TLC to keep them healthy.
There are range of factors that can cause your dog’s paws to become dry, here are a few of the most common:
- Chemicals: If you take your dog on long walks in the winter and you live in a cold climate where snow is a regular occurrence, then one of the main ways your dog’s paws can dry out is through the salt that gets used to melt the ice on sidewalks. In the summer months, lawn fertilizers can also be an irritant.
- Dry or cold air: Just like us humans, a dog’s skin can quickly become dry and cracked when exposed to air conditioned or heated rooms.
- Rough or hot surfaces: Walks on hot sand, rough pavement or rocky terrain can scrape your dog’s paws and cause them to dry out.
- Allergic reactions: Every day your dog is coming into contact with a range of things in their environment that can cause allergies. Because their paws are usually bare, these irritants have a greater chance of getting into the skin where they lead to redness or itching that can cause the skin to crack.
- Excessive licking: Have you ever noticed that the more you lick your lips, the more they dry out? It’s the same for our furry friends who may sometimes overlick their paws causing the skin to dry up and crack.
If you notice your pup licking or chewing their paws more than usual, it could be their way of trying to relieve the itchiness that comes with having dry paw pads. Thankfully, there are plenty of natural home remedies you can use that will have your canine companion feeling comfortable again in no time.
Home remedies for dry dog paws
1. Shea butter
Extracted from, you guessed it, the Shea tree, Shea butter soothes, softens and hydrates skin and it’s good for both humans and hounds. It’s well known for its moisturizing properties and best of all, it’s completely non-toxic, so even if your dog licks it all off after you’ve applied it, the worst that will happen is a mild upset stomach.
We love that Shea butter is rich in vitamins and fatty acids that penetrate deeply into the skin, creating a protective barrier that stops itching, heals cracks, and leaves paws smooth and silky. It’s a natural sun protectant too and you can use it on your dog’s coat as well to boost shine.
2. Coconut oil
Another great all-natural remedy is moisture-rich coconut oil, which, as luck would have it, is also antibacterial and antiviral, so it won’t just soothe painful paws and combat dryness, it will also minimize the risk of infection that can often set in when paws are severely cracked.
When applying coconut oil, you want to let it seep in as much as possible to get the full effects. So to avoid your dog licking it off the minute you apply it, pop their paws into a set of doggy booties to allow the coconut oil to work its magic.
3. Vitamin E oil or cream
Both vitamin E oil and cream are incredibly nourishing which probably won’t come as too much of a surprise given that vitamin E is a common ingredient in the best dog food. But as well as being great for your pup’s insides, it’s also great for their outsides too.
The nutrients in vitamin E, whether in oil or cream form, can help repair cracks, heal blisters and soften dry skin. You can add the oil to a bath or apply to the paws in the same way you would coconut oil and as for the cream, massage into your dog’s pads and you’ll be giving your own hands a nice treatment in the process!
Made by honey bees and used to construct the interior of their hives, beeswax has all the same antibacterial, antifungal, and nourishing properties of honey, making it a great choice for your pooch’s paws.
Not only will it soften the skin, beeswax will keep your pup’s paw pads clean, reduce the risk of infection, and prevent the growth of yeast infections. It’s also waterproof and it does a brilliant job of locking in moisture. You’ll find it included in many commercial paw creams and in the recipe for our favorite homemade cream which we’ve listed below.
5. Specialized paw cream
There are some wonderful creams on the market designed specifically for a dog's paws and one of the things we love most about these products is that they often combine many of the ingredients listed above into a powerful formula that hits dry skin hard.
Specialized paw creams also do a brilliant job of sticking to your dog’s feet, so they can walk around all day and the balm will still be creating a protective barrier that prevents further cracks while healing existing ones. Try the ever-popular Musher’s Secret (opens in new tab) made with a variety of waxes and enriched with vitamin E.
How to make your own dog paw moisturizer
Believe it or not, it's incredibly easy to make your own dog paw moisturizer at home. Our favorite recipe shows you exactly how to do it:
DIY dog paw balm
- 21-24 standard lip balm tubes OR 6 1-oz. tins
- A small digital kitchen scale, optional
- Small pot or double boiler
- 2 oz. (approx. 2 tbsp.) olive, sunflower, or sweet almond oil
- 2 oz. (approx. 2 tbsp.) coconut oil
- 1 oz. (approx. 1 tbsp.) shea butter
- 4 tsp. beeswax
- In a small pot or double boiler over low heat melt the oils, shea butter, and beeswax. Stir continuously until all is melted and well blended.
- Carefully pour the mixture into lip balm tubes and/or tins.
- Let them cool on the counter until hard.
- Cap and label.
- Keep away from extreme heat.
- Apply the balm as a preventive treatment or to help soften dry paw pads or noses. Use within 1 to 2 years.
When should you take your dog to the vet?
If left untreated, cracked paws can lead to pain, lameness, and infection, and even regular at-home paw pampering sessions may not always be enough to keep your dog's paw pads in tip-top condition.
Sometimes cracked and dry paws can be a sign of a more serious health condition, such as an autoimmune disorder or skin disease, so if you notice any changes in the appearance of your dog's pads or they're licking or chewing the area more than usual, take them to the vet who'll be able to run diagnostic tests.
It's also important to consult with your vet if your pet has been exposed to extreme temperatures that have led to burns or frostbite. In these cases, proper treatment will be required to help the pad injuries to heal.
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Kathryn is a freelance writer who has spent the past two years dividing her writing time between her two great loves - pets and health and wellness. When she’s not busy crafting the perfect sentence for her features, buying guides and news pieces, she can be found hanging out with one very mischievous Cocker Spaniel, drinking copious amounts of Jasmine tea and attempting to set numerous world records for the longest ever FaceTime calls with her family back home in NZ.
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