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7 Best Paw Balms for Dogs in 2024 (With Tips From A Vet)

We bought and reviewed seven high-quality balms and waxes to help you choose the best paw balm for your dog.
A guide to the best dog paw balms and waxes

Dog pads are naturally tough, but cold weather, rough terrain, chemicals, road salt, and other surfaces can still damage them. Once the pad surface breaks, it can be challenging to heal and the wound may even become infected.

The best paw balms for dogs can moisturize and soothe cracked paws with dog-safe ingredients. Some balms and waxes can also protect against cold ground and potentially dangerous substances.

How do you know which balm or wax to choose though? “I’m a huge fan of natural ingredients with proven moisturizing effects, such as coconut oil, shea butter, and olive oil,” says Dr Linda Simon, veterinary surgeon. “When ingredients are edible, there is a much lower risk of toxicity if your dog decides to lick off the product.”

If you’re considering using a dog paw wax or balm, our team bought and reviewed seven of the best options below.

Musher's Secret

Our #1 Pick: Musher’s Secret Pet Paw Protection Wax

Great for icy conditions and helps moisturize paw pads

Musher’s Secret is our favorite 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 moisturizing properties.

7 Best Dog Paw Balms in 2024

Listed below are seven of the best paw balms and waxes for dogs. We’ve included a range of different types, so make sure you read each review carefully to find the best option for your pup. 

Best Paw Wax for Winter and Cold Weather: Musher’s Secret Pet Paw Protection Wax

Best Paw Wax for Winter and Cold Weather: Musher’s Secret Pet Paw Protection WaxVIEW PRICE

Musher’s Secret is our top pick for paw wax. It’s a tried and tested formula – and one that I personally wouldn’t be without for the winter season here in the Italian Alps.

Musher's Secret open

This is a thick wax and we found that 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, Musher’s Secret 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 dog skin caused by Hyperkeratosis – although check with your vet first.

Contrary to the manufacturer’s claims, however, we 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, we think Musher’s Secret is clearly the best dog wax for protecting paws, so it’s an easy product to recommend.

Key Features:
  • Type: Wax
  • Scent: Unscented
  • All-natural ingredients
  • Scent-free which reduces chance of dog licking it off
  • Thick wax that provides protection for a decent duration
  • Not the cheapest option

Runner Up Pick for a Paw Wax: Four Paws Paw Guard

Runner Up Pick for a Paw Wax: Four Paws Paw GuardVIEW PRICE
Paw guard

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 we 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 doesn’t offer a bigger tub for extra savings though. Still, it’s an excellent wax and a decent alternative to Musher’s Secret.

Key Features:
  • Type: Wax
  • Scent: Unscented
  • Contains lanolin for moisturizing
  • Thick wax for protection
  • Not the easiest to apply

Best for Moisturizing Balm Dry Paws: Dr. Joseph’s 100% Natural Dog Paw Balm

Best for Moisturizing Balm Dry Paws: 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, which we found makes 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. We found that it may leave marks on your carpet and furnishings if not fully absorbed.

Key Features:
  • Type: Balm
  • Scent: Scentless
  • All natural ingredients
  • Easy to apply
  • Shea butter, aloe, and vitamin E provide a range of skin benefits
  • Can leave marks on fabrics if not fully absorbed

Our Organic Paw Balm Pick: Paw Nectar Dog Paw Balm

Our Organic Paw Balm Pick: Paw Nectar Dog Paw BalmVIEW PRICE
Organic ingredients list

If you’re looking for an organic paw balm, then Paw Nectar is our top pick. We found it to be an excellent balm that’s packed with beneficial and natural ingredients.

The Paw Nectar Paw Balm is entirely made with organic and natural ingredients, so it could appeal to ethical shoppers. It does contain palm oil though, which may be an issue for eco-conscious owners.

This product is not scentless. It has a mild lavender scent, which we found to be pleasant, but this increases the chance of your dog licking it off. So if you have a sensitive pooch, you may want to opt for the Dr Joseph’s balm instead.

Key Features:
  • Type: Balm
  • Scent: Lavender (Mild)
  • All organic ingredients (including organic shea butter and cocoa butter)
  • Pleasant lavender scent without being overwhelming
  • Easy to apply
  • Scent makes it more appealing for dogs to lick off

Best Vegan Paw Balm: Natural Dog Company Paw Soother (Vegan Option Without Beeswax)

Best Vegan Paw Balm: Natural Dog Company Paw Soother (Vegan Option Without Beeswax)VIEW PRICE

If you’re looking for a vegan dog paw balm, then we think 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 coconut oil, jojoba oil, cocoa 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. We found that this makes it easier to use, but you need to be careful not to apply too much or damage the stick if you have a fidgety pup.

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!

During testing, we found that the Paw Soother has a much stronger scent than many of the other options on this list though. It’s not unpleasant, but it makes the balm a more attractive target for dogs to lick off.

Key Features:
  • Type: Balm
  • Scent: Rosemary
  • Made with plant-based ingredients
  • Plenty of hydrating ingredients
  • Stick makes it easy to apply this paw butter
  • Scent is stronger than other options on this list

Our Budget Balm Pick: Espree Paw Balm

Our Budget Balm Pick: 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 it has an all-natural formula that conditions your dog’s paws.

A downside is that we found 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.

Key Features:
  • Type: Balm
  • Scent: Moderate
  • Great value for money
  • Moisturizes and provides some protection
  • All natural paw balm
  • Stronger scent than we would like
  • Oily and takes longer to absorb

Best Dual-Purpose Pick: Burt’s Bees Paw and Nose Lotion

Best Dual-Purpose Pick: Burt’s Bees Paw and Nose LotionVIEW PRICE
Burt's Bees lotion

This is an all-natural product that’s made with a combination of olive oil and rosemary. It’s easy to apply and contains plenty of beneficial ingredients.

It’s also scented, but we don’t think the smell is as strong as other brands. Still, any scent is likely to make it more likely for your dog to lick off the paw balm.

Be careful not to over-apply on your dog’s paws. We found that the thinner consistency makes this mistake more likely. It also takes a little more time to massage in fully.

Key Features:
  • Type: Paw & Nose Lotion
  • Great for moisturizing both paws and noses
  • All-natural ingredients
  • Mild scent
  • Thin consistency

What Can Cause Problems for Paws?

A dogs paw pads are tough, but can still be damaged

It’s common to hear dog owners say, “a dog’s paws have evolved for walking on 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 to remain on the surface for five seconds, 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. “No amount of balm would be sufficient for a dog to walk on hot surfaces, as there is a real risk of serious burns and ulcers,” says Dr Simon.
  • 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. If your dog has rock salt between their toes after a walk, it’s important to wash it off immediately with warm water.
  • 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 color. Paw pads that have turned pink, for example, could indicate an allergy or bacterial infection (amongst other things).

Types of Paw Protection

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.

  • Paw lotion and paw cream. 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. “Dogs can easily lick off these thinner lotions,” says Dr Linda Simon, veterinary surgeon. “To help prevent this, apply them just before a walk, so your dog is too distracted to lick.”
  • Balms (often referred to as moisturizers or butters). A dog paw palm is typically applied to pads with dryness or cracking. Balms offer some protective qualities, but are not designed to form a protective layer on your dog’s paws. They are great for cracked paw pads though.
  • 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. If you want an easy way to clean your pup’s paws, paw washers could also be a convenient tool.

Blue paw

Which Dogs Need Paw Balms? A Vet’s Perspective

“Paw balms add a protective layer to the paw, which can lock in moisture and prevent debris from piercing the top layer of the pad. Waxes also prevent pads from getting too cold when walking on the ground; much like wearing some thin socks!”

“Most dogs don’t need frequent paw balm application, but these products can prove useful when the weather is very or if you’re going on a hike with rough terrain.” 

“Dogs with softer pads like puppies, Sighthounds and toy breeds tend to benefit most. Many working dogs and sled dogs have naturally thick and hard pads, so may not require a paw balm unless they are on particularly rough terrain.”

“Paw balms may also form part of the treatment plan for dogs with certain medical issues such as hyperkeratosis or pemphigus.”

– Dr Linda Simon, veterinary surgeon

Tips for Choosing a Dog Paw Balm or Wax

A guide to what to look for in a paw balm
Factors such as consistency, ease of application, safe ingredients, and scent all affect the quality of a paw balm

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 your 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.

There are also ingredients that you should typically avoid. These include:

  • Formaldehyde 
  • Silicones
  • Synthetic fragrances

“Dogs are more likely to suffer from localized red rashes and skin inflammation from harsher chemicals,” says Dr Simon. “Also, if your dog has food allergies, watch out for potential allergens, like beef tallow or coconut oil.”

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, which, according to the ASPCA 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.

We 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. 


In general, you want a mild smell from a paw balm. Most of the best options have a gentle smell that isn’t overpowering.

The main reason is that dogs have an incredible sense of smell. A mild scent to humans could still seem strong to your pet, so you don’t want to apply anything that’s going to be unpleasant for them.

Stronger smells also make it more likely to lick it off. Licking off the balm will reduce the positive effects and may even lead to a stomach upset.


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 and help rough paws, 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 only choice.

Ethical Ingredients

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.

Is Paw Balm Safe for Dogs?

Applying paw balm

A specially formulated canine paw wax should be safe for dogs, as long they don’t have any allergies to the included ingredients or other medical issues that might affect the product’s safety.

“Most dogs tolerate paw balms well, and an allergy or sensitivity would be uncommon,” says Dr Linda Simon. “However, any dog can react to any ingredient. I advise my clients to do a ‘patch test’ on a small paw area the day before they need to use the paw balm.”

While paw balms are typically safe, there is a danger that the owner might overestimate how much protection a wax or balm can provide. For example, some people assume that waxes can provide protection against hot surfaces, which isn’t the case. Paw balms may also help with cracked or dry paws, but won’t solve any underlying health issue.

Paw wax or balm also has the potential to cause an upset stomach if your dog licks too much off.

When Balms and Waxes Are Not Enough

Paws on hot pavement are not protected by paw balms

While balms and waxes can be useful for keeping your dog’s pads healthy and protected, they are not always enough.

Firstly, paw balms are not designed to protect against hot surfaces. Never walk your dog on hot pavement, sand, or other surfaces – even with a paw wax – as this can lead to severe burns.

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.

Additionally, it’s important to know when veterinary help is required. “If your dog has cut or grazed their pad so the top layer is missing, or if there are signs of infection (like redness or crusting), a protective balm is not enough,” says Dr Linda Simon. “These types of injuries require veterinary care and medication.”

Consider Dog Boots

Dog boots provide much more protection than lotions or waxes. While waxes are fine for short walks and moisturizing paw pads, we 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. According to VetStreet, it’s also vital to ensure that they are well-fitting and comfortable, particularly if you plan to use them on longer hikes. 

Boots should also only be used when necessary. “Booties can be great for rough or cold conditions, but leaving them on for too long can lead to sweaty paws, poor airflow, and paw infections,” says Dr Simon.

For more information about dog boots, take a look at our complete guide.

Blue paw

What is Hyperkeratosis?

According to Veterinary Practice, 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?

Dog nose

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 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.

“This recipe is the exact one I give to clients who ask about homemade paw balms,” says Dr Simon. “I like it because all of the ingredients are quite easy to obtain and are generally affordable.” 

“While this recipe is non-toxic, don’t allow your dog to go on a feeding frenzy after applying it,” adds Dr Simon. “Ingesting too much oil can lead to runny poop and even pancreatitis, due to the high fat content.”

Frequently Asked Questions

We don’t recommend using Vaseline instead of paw balm or wax. While Vaseline isn’t toxic to dogs, many dogs like how it tastes. This can lead to them licking it off, causing GI problems. Vaseline is also quite greasy and slippery, which can increase the chance of your dog taking a tumble.

Yes, coconut oil is a safe ingredient for your dog’s paws. It’s even found in many commercial paw balms, due to its moisturizing properties. However, it doesn’t provide the wide range of benefits that are gained from using a balm with multiple ingredients.

“Every dog is different, so application frequency depends on how dry their pads are and what sort of surface they’re walking on,” says Dr Linda Simon. “You’ll be able to feel once the product is no longer present on the surface of the pads, and can then re-apply. If on a long hike, it is worth checking every 30 minutes or so.”

“For those with medical issues, we commonly advise applying balms twice daily,” she adds. “However, this can vary, so you should always listen to your vet’s advice.”

Summary & Top Pick

While the best dog 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.

We think the best paw wax for dogs is the 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 balm for dogs? Please let us know in the comments below. You may also want to read our guide to what causes red paws in dogs.


Gemma Johnstone

Gemma is a freelance writer and official dog nut. With 15 years of experience in the pet industry, she is a passionate animal welfare advocate. She has worked for the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, ran her own specialist dog shop for ten years, has volunteered for her local rescue shelter, and is studying towards completing an Advanced Diploma in Canine Behaviour. Gemma is currently travelling around Europe with her wonderful rescue dog, Annie.
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