Does your dog suffer from cracked or sore pads in cold weather? A high-quality paw wax can protect pads and keep them supple. Here are seven of the best dog paw balms and advice for maintaining good paw health.
Specialized dog balms and waxes can moisturize and soothe cracked paws. Some can also protect against cold ground and potentially dangerous substances.
If you’re considering using a dog paw wax or balm, we’ve reviewed seven of the best products below. But before we get to our top picks, it’s important to understand the basics of canine paw health.
Great for icy conditions and helps moisturize paw pads
Musher’s Secret is my favourite paw wax for dogs. It does a great job of protecting paw pads against salt, ice and rough surfaces, plus it contains vitamin E for its moisturising properties.
It’s common to hear dog owners say, “a dog’s paws are designed for harsh surfaces”. While this may be true, certain situations can cause painful wear and tear to a dog’s pads.
With all the different waxes, ointments, salves, balms and creams on the market, it’s hard to know which to choose! Let’s take a quick look at the various types.
Tip: Keeping nails trimmed is also important for your dog’s health. Take a look at our list of the best dog nail grinders. If you want an easy way to clean your pup’s paws, one of these paw washers could also be a convenient tool.
Listed below are seven of the best paw balms and waxes for dogs. I’ve included a range of different types, so make sure you read each review carefully.
Musher’s Secret is our top pick for a paw wax. It’s a tried and tested formula – and one that I wouldn’t be without for the winter season here in the Italian Alps.
This is a thick wax and a little goes a long way. So, although it may be more expensive than some of the products reviewed, one tub will last a long time.
Unlike thinner balms, it remains in place for a decent duration, even if your dog walks through slush or a little water. It also helps to protect feet against grit and rock salt, although not as effectively as boots.
While Musher’s Secret wax is primarily designed to provide a protective layer, it also contains vitamin E to soften dry and cracked skin. It could even be used for softening the dry skin caused by Hyperkeratosis – although check with your vet first.
Contrary to the manufacturer’s claims, however, I don’t recommend it for protecting against hot pavements. It does provide some protection once absorbed, but no wax can protect against very hot surfaces.
Other advantages include that it’s less greasy than other products, doesn’t have a strong smell, and shouldn’t stain fabrics or carpets. It’s also available in multiple sizes.
Overall, I think the Musher’s Secret is clearly the best dog wax for protecting paws, so it’s an easy product to recommend.
If you’re looking for an alternative to Musher’s Secret, then Four Paws Paw Guard could be worth giving a whirl. It’s a simple wax product that contains lanolin for moisturizing your dog’s paws.
While I don’t think it’s as easy to apply as Musher’s Secret, as the wax is more solid, you’re less likely to overapply Four Paws. It also comes in a smaller tray size, so you can spend less to try it out.
It’s a shame that Four Paws don’t offer a bigger tub for extra savings though. Still, it’s an excellent wax and a decent alternative to Musher’s Secret.
This dog paw balm, unlike the waxes above, is designed to soothe dry and cracked pads. It’s scentless and not too greasy, making it a pleasant balm to use – although it doesn’t provide the same protection as waxes.
While we always recommend distracting your dog to prevent them from licking off balms, it’s reassuring to know that the ingredients are all safe and natural.
The combination of shea butter, aloe and vitamin E also does a great job of moisturizing your dog’s paws. If you’ve noticed your pet’s paw pads are rough or scratchy, it could be an excellent product to try.
Be careful not to over-apply the product though. It may leave marks on your carpet and furnishings if not fully absorbed.
This is another dog paw balm that’s designed for soothing and moisturizing, rather than for use as a protective layer.
As you would expect, the Bodhi does a great job of soothing dry or irritated paws. It can clear up minor issues surprisingly quickly – especially if your dog’s paws are cracked due to cold weather.
The Bodhi Organic Paw Balm is also made with organic and natural ingredient,s so it could appeal to ethical shoppers. It does contain beeswax though, so it’s not suitable for vegans.
This product is not scentless, so if you have a sensitive pooch, you may want to opt for the Dr Joseph’s balm instead. It’s a much harder formula too. This means you’re less likely to over-apply, but makes it more difficult to use.
If you’re looking for a vegan dog paw balm, then the Natural Dog Companies paw soother is one of the best options. Unlike many alternatives, such as the Dr Joseph balm, this organic product doesn’t contain beeswax. Instead, it’s made from a combination of coconut oil, jojoba oil, cupuacu butter and several other natural ingredients.
The Paw Soother comes as a roll-on stick, so you can apply it directly to your dog’s pads if you want. You need to be careful not to apply too much or damage the stick if you have a fidgety pup though.
One thing to note is that previous versions of the Paw Soother contained tea tree oil, which may be toxic when ingested. Natural Dog Company has stated that the Paw Soother no longer contains this ingredient though, which is very good news!
If you’re on a budget and looking to try a dog paw balm, then the Espree offers decent value for money.
Marketed as a moisturizing balm, it provides a light protective barrier while keeping paw pads soft and supple. It’s not vegan, as it contains beeswax, but has an all-natural formula that conditions your dog’s paws.
A downside is that it has a relatively strong smell. This can make it an attractive licking target for some dogs. The balm is also quite an oily solution, so it can take longer to absorb into the pads than some of the others on this list.
Burt’s Bees is a popular lotion that’s great for soothing, moisturizing and keeping your dog’s pads in a healthy condition – although it doesn’t provide much protection.
This is an all-natural product that’s made with a combination of olive oil and rosemary. It’s also scented, but I don’t think the smell is as strong as other brands.
Be careful not to over-apply on your dog’s paws though. The thinner consistency makes this mistake more likely. It also takes a little more time to massage in fully.
Choosing a paw wax or balm isn’t always easy. There are lots of options on the market, each with attractive packaging and bold manufacturer claims. To help you cut through the hype, here are some of the most important considerations when protecting and soothing you dog’s paws.
Steer clear of products that don’t list all ingredients on their packaging. Selecting balms or waxes containing natural and organic ingredients also means they are less likely to cause irritation. Common examples of natural ingredients include shea butter, coconut oil, and aloe.
While it can be tempting to dip into your own supplies in an emergency, don’t opt for human moisturizers for your dog’s paws. These contain substances like zinc oxide and other chemicals that could be toxic to dogs. Always buy products marketed for dogs.
If you’re in doubt, seek advice from your vet. Also, be aware that allergic reactions are possible even with products containing ingredients known to be safe for dogs. Testing the product on a small area is always a good idea!
No-one wants paw-shaped stains across their carpet. While this shouldn’t happen, some balms are more likely to stain than others.
I recommend testing a dog paw balm on a small patch of fabric before using it on your dog. Check that it doesn’t leave a hard-to-remove stain, especially for lotions and balms that are applied while your dog is in the house.
Choosing the right type of dog paw balm is essential.
As a general rule, lotions and balms are designed for moisturizing and soothing. They can prevent irritation, but don’t expect them to form a protective layer.
If you want to protect your dog’s feet from cold or rough ground, while moisturizing at the same time, a thicker wax is required. And if you want maximum protection – perhaps for walking on hot pavements – dog boots are the best choice.
Many waxes contain all-natural ingredients, such as shea butter, cocoa butter, olive oil and coconut oil. Some also have organic ingredients, so there are plenty of options for ethical shoppers.
Unfortunately for vegans, beeswax is included in many balms and waxes. There are vegan balms available, however, such as those made by Natural Dog Company.
While balms and waxes can be useful for keeping your dog’s pads healthy and protected, they are not always enough.
You should always check your dog’s pads for a build-up of ice or snow when walking, as a wax may not fully prevent this. Dogs can suffer from frostbite as a result of prolonged exposure to winter conditions! If your pet is having difficulty walking, or rock salt seems to be causing discomfort, you may need to take further action.
Sometimes the weather is just too bad for a safe walk, even with a paw wax. In this case, choose a shorter route and provide more enrichment around the home until the weather improves.
Also, if you’re a long-distance hiker, be aware that wax wears off over time. This can lead to cracks, blisters, and other signs of wear and tear.
Dog boots provide much more protection than lotions or waxes. While waxes are fine for short walks and moisturising paw pads, I always recommend boots for long walks on rough terrain.
Boots are also great for preventing burning on hot surfaces. In fact, they are really the only way to protect paws against heat.
Not all dogs will enjoy wearing boots though. You may need to spend time pairing boots with yummy treats to create positive associations. It’s also important to ensure that they are well-fitting and comfortable, particularly if you plan to use them on longer hikes.
For more information about dog boots, take a look at our complete guide.
Canine Hyperkeratosis is a condition that involves the thickening and hardening of the skin on your dog’s nose or paw pads, as a result of the production of too much keratin.
While it is not curable, it is something that can be managed and treated. Often just ensuring that you soften and then remove the excess skin is enough, and using a safe and appropriate balm can help with this.
If you notice changes occurring in your dog’s pads, you should always consult your vet. This condition can be linked to more serious conditions such as Distemper and Leishmaniasis, and you will want to rule those out. You should also take their advice on what sort of balm would be suitable to use.
In extreme weather conditions, or if your dog is suffering from Hyperkeratosis, a dry nose can be a problem.
Most of the balms above can be safely applied to the snout. Make sure you check the manufacturer guidelines first though. You’ll need to distract your pet so they don’t lick off the balm while it’s absorbing.
The Natural Dog Company also sells an organic Snout Soother.
If you’re on a tight budget, or your dog has specific allergies, you could try making your own paw salve. This recipe, as recommended by the American Kennel Club, could be worth a shot:
Blend all the ingredients in a pot on low heat. Once they are thoroughly mixed and fully melted, pour the solution into a suitable tin.
You then just need to let the balm cool with the lid off. It can be applied as required, as long as it’s stored in a cold area.
While paw waxes, balms and lotions can improve your dog’s paw health, it’s important to choose the right type for your pet.
Paw waxes provide a protective layer when walking in cold weather conditions. This can stop the build-up of snow and ice, and prevent discomfort from rock salt and grit. It can also help when walking on rough terrain.
A dog paw balm can moisturize dry and cracked pads. Lotions and balms can also be helpful if your dog suffers from the skin condition Hyperkeratosis, but will not provide a protective layer.
Our top recommendation is Musher’s Secret Paw Wax. This wax offers a long-lasting protective layer and can also help to moisturize, so it’s the best of both worlds.
Do you have any questions about choosing the best paw wax for your pet? Please let me know in the comments below.