Dog parents see their fair share of muddy dog paws. After long walks, hikes, or just playtime outside, dogs love to track muddy paw prints through your home. Even when your pup’s paws are seemingly clean, they still pick up dirt and germs from outside every time they go for a walk.
Dirty dog paws are inevitable, but cleaning them can be simple! Read on to learn how to wash your dog’s paws after a walk (or any other activity) and how often you should be cleaning them.
Why Should You Wash Your Dog’s Paws?
Your dog uses their paws to interact with the world. From muddy hiking trails to concrete sidewalks to dew-covered grass, your dog’s paws touch many surfaces every day, picking up dirt, mud, and bacteria each time.
Washing your dog’s paws helps to keep muddy paw prints from covering your house, but it also helps to keep your pup healthy. Not only do you clean away bacteria from their paws, but while washing, you can check your dog’s paws thoroughly for wounds or cracks that can lead to infections.
Seasonally, washing your dog’s paws is also an important safety precaution
During the winter months, your dog’s paws can pick up sidewalk salt, as well as de-icing chemicals from their walk. All of which can irritate your dog’s paws and be dangerous for them to ingest, should they lick their paws.
In the warmer months, ticks can burrow into the crevices of your dog’s paws and your pup’s paws can also carry seasonal allergies.
Cleaning your dog’s paws helps you remove dangerous chemicals and potential allergens and check their paws thoroughly for ticks after each walk.
How to Clean Your Dog’s Paws After a Walk
Muddy dog paws may seem overwhelming to clean, but with a few simple steps and the right tools, cleaning your dog’s paws can be simple.
Here are 5 steps to keep your dog’s paws clean:
1. Check Your Dog’s Paws Thoroughly
Before washing your dog’s paws, it’s important to check them over thoroughly to remove any debris, find any ticks, and catch any wounds or cracks that could be uncomfortable for your dog.
Gently spread your dog’s toes and check for anything in the cracks.
For dogs that aren’t used to having their paws handled, this can be uncomfortable at first. Go slow and reward your dog each time you touch their paws to help build positive associations. The more often you handle their paws, the easier the process will become.
It’s also a great idea to start your puppy early with this process. The younger you can establish paw handling and cleaning as a normal behavior, the easier it will be later on—and the better it will be for their vet as well.
2. Use a Damp Cloth or Silicone Brush and a Gentle Paw Cleanser
Your dog’s paws can be sensitive areas, so using a gentle paw cleanser without harsh ingredients can give them a deep clean without stripping your dog’s paws of their natural oils.
If your dog has itchy, irritated, or dry paws, a gentle paw cleaner can also soothe and nourish their paws, leaving them clean and more comfortable for your pup.
We recommend using a cleanser with gentle ingredients, like Dandylion’s Clean Paws No-Rinse Foaming Cleanser. The aloe juice, pomegranate juice, broccoli seed oil, and grapeseed oil provide nourishing and anti-microbial benefits for your pup’s paws.
3. Gently Massage the Cleaner into Your Dog’s Paws
With a damp cloth or a silicone brush, massage the paw cleanser into your dog’s paws in a circular motion, getting in between each of your dog’s paw pads.
This can be easier to do with the silicone brush because the bristles can get into many of the hard-to-reach places.
4. Wipe Dry with a Soft Towel
If you’re using a no-rinse cleanser, you can simply wipe your dog’s paws dry—no rinsing necessary. This is more convenient for everyday use, and you can even do it while you’re still out and about, like at the park before your pup gets into the car.
Use a soft towel that won’t irritate your dog’s paws, and keep it in your bag or in the car for paw cleaning on-the-go.
5. Keep Your Dog’s Paws and Nails Trimmed
Long paw hair and toenails give more surface area for dirt, mud, and bacteria to build up.
While you’re already washing your dog’s paws, it’s a great idea to monitor the length of their paw fur and nails and trim them as needed to make future paw cleanings even easier.
How Often Should You Clean Your Dog’s Paws?
Your dog’s paws pick up new dirt, mud, and bacteria every day, so cleaning your dog’s paws every day is also a good idea. When your dog gets back from their daily walk, you can add a quick paw cleaning to their daily routine.
Washing your dog’s paws more frequently can reduce itchiness and irritation in your pup’s paws and skin because you wash away the allergens and irritants that affect your dog.
It’s also important in the wintertime to remove harmful chemicals and sidewalk salt after every walk before your dog can lick their paws.
More frequent cleaning also helps your dog become more comfortable with their paws being handled, making future cleaning easier.
By using a gentle paw cleanser with hydrating ingredients, you can help keep your dog’s paws moisturized, so it’s perfect for everyday use. Your dog’s paw pads can actually soften over time with frequent use.
Protect Your Dog’s Paws with a Regular Cleaning Routine
Your dog uses their paws every day: to run and catch their favorite ball, walk through their neighborhood, and explore new areas with you. Because of this, it’s important to keep your pup’s paws soft, clean, and healthy.
Having a regular paw cleaning routine helps to fight off irritations, remove allergens, prevent ticks and parasites, and soothe damaged, wounded, or otherwise cracked paws.
With a gentle paw cleanser and a few minutes set aside each day, your dog’s paws will be clean in no time.