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.
- What Can Cause Problems for Dogs Paws?
- Types of Paw Protection (And the Difference Between Balms and Waxes)
- 7 Best Dog Paw Balm Reviews
- Other Tips for Choosing a Dog Paw Balm or Wax
- When Balms and Waxes Are Not Enough
- What About Dog Nose Balms?
- How to Make a DIY Dog Paw Balm
- Summary & Top Pick
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.
Our #1 Pick: Musher’s Secret Pet Paw Protection Wax
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.
What Can Cause Problems for Dogs Paws?
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.
- Hot walking surfaces. Many owners don’t realize that even a short walk on hot asphalt can cause severe burning and blistering. If you’re unsure, lay your hand on an unshaded spot of road surface. If it’s too hot for your hand, it’s too hot for your dog. Beach sand is another surface that can get extremely hot. Be aware that waxes and balms are not designed to protect against hot surfaces – you’ll need doggie boots for that.
- Rough terrain. Have you ever noticed that mountain rescue dogs often wear specialized boots? This is because harsh mountain terrain can damage paw pads. If your dog does a lot of hiking or canicross, especially if it involves scrambling on rocky surfaces, then you should be mindful of protecting their paws.
- Cold weather conditions. Cold temperatures can cause paw pads to become dry or cracked, while ice build-up between toes can cause additional problems. Rock salt and grit, which are common on roads and pavements, can also damage a dog’s paw pads, while causing stomach upsets or worse if ingested.
- Breed type. Certain breeds are more prone to pad problems. Dogs with long toes, like Sighthounds, have pads that spread out more when they move. This can make them susceptible to injury. Breeds with little fat or fur, such as Greyhounds and Whippets, also have less of a protective barrier. In contrast, Huskies have oily hair between their pads that prevents snow from gathering.
Tip: Check your dog’s paws regularly. Look for wounds, foreign objects, and changes to the paw colour. Paw pads that have turned pink, for example, could indicate an allergy or bacterial infection (amongst other things).
Types of Paw Protection (And the Difference Between Balms and Waxes)
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.
- Lotions and creams. A dog paw lotion is a thinner product that’s primarily a preventative measure. By applying a lotion or cream, you can keep pads supple and reduce the risk of them becoming dry and cracking.
- Balms (often referred to as moisturizers or butters). A dog paw palm is generally applied to pads that have existing dryness or cracking. Balms offer some protective qualities, but are not designed to form a protective layer on your dog’s paws.
- Waxes. These are thicker substances that provide a longer-lasting protective layer. Waxes are great when taking your dog out in cold, snowy or icy conditions, or when hiking on rough terrain. Waxes can also prevent pads from drying out. They should not, however, be used as a protective solution for walking your dog on hot road surfaces. While absorbed waxes may provide some protection, they won’t stop burning on very hot pavements.
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.
7 Best Dog Paw Balm Reviews
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.
1. Musher’s Secret Pet Paw Protection WaxVIEW PRICE
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.VIEW PRICE
2. Four Paws Paw GuardVIEW PRICE
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.VIEW PRICE
3. Dr. Joseph’s 100% Natural Dog Paw BalmVIEW PRICE
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.VIEW PRICE
4. Bodhi Organic Paw BalmVIEW PRICE
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.VIEW PRICE
5. Natural Dog Company Paw Soother (Vegan Option Without Beeswax)VIEW PRICE
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!VIEW PRICE
6. Espree Paw BalmVIEW PRICE
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.VIEW PRICE
7. Burt’s Bees Paw and Nose LotionVIEW PRICE
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.VIEW PRICE
Other Tips for Choosing a Dog Paw Balm or Wax
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.
Safe and Natural Ingredients
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.
When Balms and Waxes Are Not Enough
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.
Consider Dog Boots
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.
What is Hyperkeratosis?
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.
What About Dog Nose Balms?
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.
How to Make a DIY Dog Paw Balm
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:
- 2 tbsp of olive oil (you could also use sunflower or almond oil)
- 2 tbsp of coconut oil
- 1 tbsp of shea butter
- 4 tsp of beeswax (or, as a vegan alternative, you could try soy wax)
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.
Summary & Top Pick
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.