Dogs’ paws insulate their bones, deep tissues, and joints from extreme weather, rough surfaces, and other shocks. Your dog’s paws can get cracked or wounded if constantly exposed to rough conditions. After an activity outdoors, cleaning the paws of a dog is crucial.
You must give them equal cleaning and grooming with the rest of their body parts. So what is the best way to clean a dog’s paws? While there are no specific rules on how to clean a dog’s paws, we will try to cover the key points in this article.
What Is The Best Way to Clean Dogs Paws
The first step would be to prepare your pup for a good cleaning. Cuddle, hold, and hug your dog for a while to make it comfortable. It is important because most dogs get nervous when you try to clean their paws.
Once your dog is happy and comfortable, clean the paws with a towelette or thoroughly wash them. Make sure to go into the crevices between the toes and inside the nails. Next, pat dry the paws, and you may now let your dog roam around the house.
Apart from regular cleaning, it would be best if you also started using booties on your dog’s paws during winter and trimming its foot hair. You should also inspect for injuries regularly, and if you find any, clean them up and use medicine as per your vet’s advice.
We cover how to clean a dog’s paws after a walk in more detail in the coming sections.
Use a Towelette
There is a misconception among pet parents that baby wipes are safe for dogs. Baby wipes contain harmful chemicals such as glycol or perfume. Moreover, human skin has a different pH than dogs, so you should never use human products on dog skin.
It would be best if you only used vet-approved towelettes to clean away dust or dirt from your furry friend’s paws. If you don’t want to spend on towelettes or wipes, you can make a DIY towelette instead. Just soak a washcloth in warm water and clean your dog’s paws with it.
A warm towel will help clean off dirt and debris and relax your pup.
Thoroughly Wash the Paws
A good rub with a towelette is enough to remove the mud and dirt. But if it remains stuck between your dog’s paws even after scrubbing with a towelette, it’s time to wash its paws thoroughly. You need to use a dog-friendly shampoo and lukewarm water for cleaning.
If your pup is small, you can rinse their paws in a sink, but for a larger dog, it is better if you use a bathtub. You can also buy a paw cleaner, a portable cleaning tool for doggie paws. Paw cleaners have a cup you can fill with water and dip your dog’s feet in to clean them out.
Clean Around the Nails and Toes
Nails and toes are perhaps the hardest part of cleaning dog paws after a walk. Most dogs get nervous when you try to clip their nails. Make it comfortable before you can clean its nails. Once comfortable, gently turn its paws towards your face and thoroughly clean them.
If you find pebbles, shards of glass, foxtails, or anything else that can hurt the dog, gently pull it out with tweezers.
Make sure to check the space between the paw pads and toenails. These two places are hard to reach and often get neglected during cleaning. A lot of dirt or debris remains stuck in nails and between toes.
Dry Paws With a Towel
Once you have washed your dog’s feet, use a soft and dry towel to soak the water and pat their paws dry. It is important to ensure that the foot pad is completely dry because otherwise, your dog might slip and fall. Another problem is that if you leave their footpads wet, they are sure to make little paw marks all over your floor, adding another chore for you.
To check if the foot pad has dried completely, you can squeeze each paw gently with a towel. If there is any water remaining, it will come off by doing this.
Trim Foot Hair Regularly
Foot hair is another place where dogs tend to accumulate dirt. If you own a dog with longer hair, such as Lhasa Apso and Border Collies, you need to make sure that you keep the hair around the foot and foot pad short.
Cutting or trimming foot hair might be difficult unless you have a lot of practice. You might end up causing an injury to the footpad, which is a very sensitive place for dogs. One way is to take your dog to a professional dog groomer.
A couple of points to note here: Firstly, always book an appointment in advance with a pet groomer so that they can give enough time to your dog. Secondly, do not shave the area, only trim it gently. Shaving can irritate the skin, especially if the dog steps on corrosive salts or ice.
Keeping your paws clean without regular washing is a common question. Dog boots are fabric coverings that protect your furbaby from getting injured on rough surfaces or when there is ice on the road. Booties protect your furbaby from getting injured and even from the snow.
Many dogs have sensitive paws that easily get chafed, cracked, or wounded. So, if you have noticed that your dog gets wounded easily in their paw, try to get these booties. However, booties take getting used to for most dogs. So always ensure that your pup is comfortable with booties before taking them out.
Clean Wounds or Cuts
As mentioned above, many dogs have sensitive paws. They are more prone to cuts, wounds, and other afflictions, especially if they walk on concrete or similar rough surfaces.
Your dog might also step on a sharp object like pieces of glass and suffer a cut or a wound. You must check their footpads for cuts and bruises when you get home.
If the cut is smaller than half an inch wide, you can wash it with an anti-bacterial wash to avoid infection. If the wound is bigger, you should consult a veterinarian.
Use Dog Wipes
If you take a quick walk around the block, you can use pet-friendly, all-natural dog wipes to clean your pup’s feet. These wipes can be very helpful in cleaning mud or salts. However, as we said earlier, do not use human wipes or tissues for this purpose. Make sure only to buy dog wipes labeled safe for your furry friend.
The good thing about dog wipes is that you can always carry them with you. You can go for long walks in parks, on roads, or even a stroll on the beach. You can quickly clean your doggo’s paws with a wet wipe before reaching home.
Bathe Your Dog
Nothing is better than bathing your dog if they have been out and about for a while. Use a detachable shower head to ensure that you remove the dirt and mud completely from its paws and feet. However, do not use a pressure washer or a very powerful hose because those can cause injury to your dog.
Once done, pat dry your dog with a soft towel. After drying, you can also apply a vet-recommended moisturizer to your dog’s paws to keep them soft and smooth.
How Often Should You Clean Your Dog's Paws?
It will help if you clean your dog’s paws thoroughly once a week or every after a trip outside. However, there is no hard and fast rule to deciding how often you should clean your dog’s paws. If you live in an area where it rains quite often or the rough terrain, you should check your pup’s feet whenever it comes home. Also, if you go on regular hikes with your dog, check its feet several times during the hike.
If you are uncomfortable checking their paws every few minutes, you can also cover their paws with dog boots. When you return from the hike, check their paws for cuts or wounds and clean them off.
How to Prepare Dog's Paws for Cleaning
The first thing to clean dog paws is to make your dog comfortable. Many dogs are afraid of water, so it is important to ensure that your dog does not feel nervous.
If it is your pup’s first time, it will try to run away. You might end up chasing your puppy around the house! Be patient, hold it, cuddle it, and give it a favorite snack or two. Make sure it feels that washing is fun.
Once you are there, check your dog’s paws for pebbles, splinters, pieces of glass, dust, mud, and salts. Take out the visible pieces of debris with a soft tweezer. After this, take a moment to trim the long hair at the bottom of the paws to avoid matting.
Trim the hair to match the size of the paw pads so that dirt doesn’t stick to it. Now, your pup is ready for its bath, and you should go ahead and slowly start soaking it in water.
If you are still unsure how to clean dog paws, the best advice we can give you is to go to a professional groomer. Simple DIY methods such as wipes or warm water cleaning can also work.