Whether your pup just got back from a muddy hike or a rainy walk, it’s important to clean their paws as soon as possible.
All that dirt and grime can lead to paw infections, exposure to harmful bacteria, and other pollutants and skin irritants. This includes everything from ice melting products to chemicals on the grass, which can be toxic when ingested.
The good news is, cleaning your dog’s paws is quick and easy.
In this post, you’ll learn how to clean dog paws after a walk, and what you can do to reduce the amount of dirt your pooch tracks in.
How to Keep Your Dog’s Paws Clean and Healthy
1. Trim the Paws Regularly
You can avoid dirty paws, at least to some extent, by trimming the hair around your dog’s feet. Just this simple step goes a long way towards reducing the amount of debris that can get stuck in between the paw’s pads.
In long-haired dogs, you should also consider cutting the hair directly around the paw pad, and remove any knots that might catch dirt. If you’re not comfortable doing all of this by yourself, it’s well worth paying a groomer to do it for you.
2. Invest in Some Dog Shoes Or Booties
Another preventive measure for muddy or sandy paws is to find a quality pair of dog boots. These are also great for keeping your dog’s feet safe when the ground is hot, wet, or piled with snow.
Some dogs may take time to get used to wearing shoes so you need to find ones that are convenient and that have a tight fit to help with the transition. Look for booties that are suitable for day-to-day walks, as well as for hiking with your dog.
3. Don’t Forget To Protect Your Dog’s Paws
While you’re cleaning your dog’s paw pads, it’s the perfect time to check them for cuts or dried areas. Even though dog boots do a fine job protecting the feet, natural balms should also be used regularly to avoid rough, chapped, cracked, or peeling paw pads.
If you’re feeling creative, look online for a DIY protective paw balm, or get an organic one that’s already been tested by other pet parents.
What Are the Best Ways to Clean Dog Paws After a Walk?
If your dog is a mess, giving him a full-body bath using a gentle pet shampoo might be your best option. However, this shouldn’t be done frequently as it can lead to skin dryness and irritation, and honestly, who has the time for it?
In case you just need to clean your dog’s paws, here are some better options.
1. Get a Waterproof Doormat
A dog paw cleaning station is your first line of defense against nasty paws.
Clearly, you’ll need to train your dog to rub his paws on the mat in order to clean them off. This can be done by hiding a few treats or kibbles underneath the mat.
The mat itself should absorb excess water without seeping through to the floor below, and it also needs to be easy to clean.
This is an ideal solution not only for dirty feet, but you can also use it as a feeding mat or a play area for your dog.
2. Use Baby Wipes
There’s simply no need for buying pricy, special paw wipes. Just make sure the ones you use don’t contain harmful chemicals or fragrances. You can also use a plain old wet washcloth with a bit of dog shampoo for extra dirty paws.
Remember to clean in between your dog’s toes and nails whenever you wipe his feet, as these are areas where lots of grime tends to accumulate.
While you’re at it, take a quick look to see if your dog’s nails aren’t too long and need cutting. If you’re not sure how to do it by yourself, make sure to watch this video.
3. Purchase a Paw Plunger
In cases where you need to rinse your dog’s legs, as well as his paws, you can always opt for a bucket of water, a hose, or better yet, a dog paw cleaner, which is one of my favorite paw cleaning solutions.
Look for a product that has multiple silicone bristles, which help loosen dirt and mud as you twist the paw inside. For best results, make sure to fill it with a bit of pet shampoo and clean water to treat each paw separately.
If your dog doesn’t have a problem with you holding his feet, then you should definitely try it out. Also, keep a towel nearby to soak up any excess water.
4. Get a Paw Cleaning Mitt
If you’re looking for something that’s a little more absorbent than a plain cotton bath towel, then nothing beats microfiber. In fact, it can hold up to seven times its weight in water, and you can use it to dry your dog off after a bath, for wiping his paws down after walks, or even as a doormat.
There are great towels out there, and some even have hand pockets which make it much easier to clean between the paw pads. This is ideal for dogs who love to get wet and muddy. Particularly if you’re using a paw plunger as well, it should complete the job nicely.
5. Try Dry Dog Shampoo
Applying dry dog shampoo is a simple way to clean your dog’s paws between baths without using water or rinsing. Besides, dog paws are quite sensitive as it is, so you may want to avoid washing them too frequently anyway.
For the same reason, you want to avoid products that contain harsh ingredients (such as SLS or alcohol), and instead pick a gentle cleanser you can use daily.
Simply work the foam into your dog’s coat, brush it in to remove any excess, and let the rest dry.
6. Make Your Own DIY Dog Paw Cleaner
If you don’t have dry dog shampoo lying around, you can mix equal parts of apple cider vinegar with water and store it in a small bottle for easy use.
Aside from having antimicrobial and flea-repelling properties, rinsing your dog’s paws with vinegar will also help with removing any bad odors that he might have picked up.