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The 9 best dog paw balms & waxes in 2021

Dog paw balms are a must-buy for all dog parents, especially during cold weather. We reviewed the 9 quality balms you can trust to heal and prevent cracked skin, hot spots, and dry paws.

Updated February 24, 2021

Created By

Lori Zaino, Andy Bowen,

that's a good doggie!

The best dog paw balms and waxes

Best dog paw balms & waxes reviews

What we love: Our number one favorite dog balm is Paw Soother from Natural Dog Company, manufactured entirely in the USA. Besides the fact that it deeply moisturizes and heals irritated and cracked paws, both dogs and humans seem to adore its yummy herbal scent. The balm comes in multiple sizes, including an easy-apply travel stick if you and your pup are on the go. It’s vegan and made from all-natural, antibacterial, and antifungal ingredients. It also has an impressively low Skin Deep® score.

What customer reviews say: With 4.5 stars on Amazon (2,500+ reviews and counting), users say it’s a lifesaver for their pup’s paws. Paw Soother gets its fair share of love on Instagram too (our team double taps before-and-afters like this on the regular). Just be aware your dog might love the tasty balm so much they lick it off, or it may leave marks around the house if your doggie is active.

🧪  Ingredients: Coconut oil, cupuacu butter, jojoba oil, calendula extract, cajeput essential oil, chamomile, natural vitamin e, and rosemary extract.

What we love: There’s no better feeling than supporting a family-owned, US-based company — the makers of Bhodi dog organic paw balm. This organic balm has very few ingredients, ideal for dogs with sensitive skin or allergies. It can also be used on cats.

What customer reviews say: This soothing balm has over 1,000 reviews on Amazon, with an average 4.5-star rating. From sheepdogs to Bengal cats, customers say this balm perfectly healed their pet’s cracked paws.

🧪  Ingredients: Organic shea butter, jojoba oil, beeswax, hemp seed oil, and calendula extract.

What we love: Musher’s Secret Natural Dog Wax was originally designed in Canada for sledding dogs, so it’s perfect for pups living in cold, wet, or snowy climates that need a little extra paw care. It also never expires, so you’ll never have to toss it out. The paw wax contains actual beeswax, as well as several food-grade waxes and oils that are non-toxic, non-GMO, and gluten-free. Beyond paws, you can also use it on dogs’ ears, elbows, snouts, and hot spots. You can even also use it on other pets and farm animals like cats, horses, and chickens!

What customer reviews say: Users loved that their dogs didn’t lick the balm off (less than 2% of reviews mentioned their dogs eating it). Reviewers also loved the price, which is extremely affordable for a large tub. However, some thought the wax was a little thin and advised putting on extra layers, especially during snowy weather.

🧪  Ingredients: White beeswax, yellow beeswax, carnauba wax, candelilla wax, white oil, vegetable oil, and vitamin e. It doesn’t contain any nut, soy, or flax oils.

What we love: This competitively priced USDA-certified organic healing balm is unscented, so it’s ideal for those (humans or animals) sensitive to strong smells. 4-Legger Certified Organic Nose and Paw Pad Healing Balm spreads smoothly and easily can also be used on more than just paws — try it on doggie elbows, snouts, or really anywhere where the skin is dry or cracked. Plus, we love that the brand sources shea butter from land that also houses a hippo sanctuary in West Africa.

What customer reviews say: One customer referred to the salve as a “miracle in a jar,” another was thrilled to see results after “just one single application.” Just be careful when applying the balm, because some users complained about the balm staining carpets, towels, and hands.

🧪  Ingredients: Organic hemp oil, organic shea butter, organic rosemary extract, organic calendula extract, organic st. john’s wort, organic carnauba wax, and natural vitamin e (tocopherol).

What we love: Pure and Natural Pet™ Rescue Balm is the most hypoallergenic balm we’ve found. With no parabens, no synthetic dyes or perfumes, and made with USDA-certified ingredients, it’s also endorsed by the AKC, an organization we support and trust.

What customer reviews say: Users liked the balm was organic and more affordable compared to some of the other balms. But, be aware that the balm could separate into liquids if you don’t store it indoors.

🧪  Ingredients: Sunflower oil, olive oil, hemp oil, calendula oil, beeswax, rosemary oil, St. John’s wort, and carnauba wax.

What we love: Created by dog owners, the Dermapaw Skin and Paw Treatment not only soothes raw and inflamed skin but also kills bacterial and fungal (yeast) infections. Yet, it’s still safe for dogs to lick, and won’t sting eyes or other sensitive areas. It’s also our only balm pick containing rice bran oil, a product with a high concentration of vitamin E.

What customer reviews say: Although there are only a couple hundred Amazon reviews for the product, customers tend to love that the balm absorbs quickly and heals red or irritated skin. One reviewer even mentioned it helped hair grow back to a particularly raw area on her dog’s skin. The brand’s quick and helpful customer service got a lot of shout-outs, too.

🧪  Ingredients: Rice bran oil, coconut oil, shea butter, beeswax, rice bran wax, jojoba oil, emu oil, vitamin e, and lavender oil.

What we love: Vets Preferred Advanced Pad Protection is less than half the cost of its competitors, this wax was made to save dogs’ paws from extreme weather. Containing ingredients like triticum vulgare (wheat germ) oil and unique sources of vitamin E, this non-toxic paw saver will both heal and protect paws.

What customer reviews say: Customers seemed thrilled with how quickly the wax works. Many were pleasantly surprised that the balm was just as helpful during extreme heat as extreme cold/snow. However, be careful about your pup licking this wax, which contains mineral oil (this can act as a laxative if too much is ingested).

🧪  Ingredients: Mineral oil, paraffin wax, beeswax, triticum vulgare (wheat germ) oil, theobroma cacao (cocoa) seed butter, butyrospermum parkii (shea butter) fruit, cocoa butter, cocos nucifera (coconut) oil, fumed silica, and fragrance.

What we love: Handy Hound Paw Butter is definitely handy, making for an easy, no-mess application, thanks to its twist-up tube applicator. Competitively priced and made in the USA, we love that this product absorbs quickly, but is still safe if pups lick their paws.

What customer reviews say: Although this product only has around 200 reviews on Amazon, almost all of them are positive. Customers loved that they could apply the balm without making a mess, and how quickly it absorbed. A few reviewers mentioned liking the balm’s light, pleasant scent, too.

🧪  Ingredients: Coconut oil, candelilla wax, cupuacu butter, sweet almond oil, coconut oil, hemp oil, calendula oil, vitamin e oil, lavender, and lemon.

What we love: Chock-full of nutrients, Pet Head Oatmeal Natural Paw Butter actually contains over 22 different ingredients to soothe and heal your pet’s dry, cracked, or irritated skin. Plus, it’s almost ridiculously cheap at $7.99 for a 2.5 oz tub (price accurate at time of publishing).

What customer reviews say: This is the most reviewed balm on our list, with over 10,000 reviews (and almost 90% of them four and five star). Customers loved the delicious scent — one said it made her dog smell like “warm cinnamon cookies.” Many reviewers noted it seemed to work after just one application. However, some noted the product was greasy, and to beware of staining.

🧪  Ingredients: Olea europaea (olive) fruit oil, helianthus annuus (sunflower) seed oil, carthamus tinctorius (safflower) seed oil, beeswax, cetearyl alcohol (plant derived), lanolin, avena sativa (oat) kernel flour, avena sativa (oat) kernel extract, fragrance (parfum), tocopheryl acetate (vitamin e acetate), tocopherol (antioxidant), orange peel wax, theobroma grandiflorum (cupuacu) seed butter, butyrospermum parkii(shea butter) fruit, mangifera indica (mango) seed butter, linoleic acid (vitamin f), ascorbyl palmitate (vitamin c palmitate), cocos nucifera (coconut) oil, aloe barbadensis (aloe vera) leaf extract, jojoba esters, isopropyl jojobate, and jojoba alcohol.

Our Methodology: How we picked our favorite dog paw balms

We thoroughly reviewed the most popular all-natural balms — We only entertained products labeled “all-natural” with stellar reviews from dog owners or our team of vets.

We handpicked the absolute best — We analyzed the ingredients of each balm using Paula’s Choice ingredients dictionary and the EWG Skin Deep® database. We skipped over any product that had poor customer reviews or contained highly debated ingredients (synthetic fragrances, silicones, PUFAs, formaldehyde releasers, etc.).

Dog paw balm basics

  • Make a habit of checking your dog’s paws — Inspect your dog’s paws for cracks, dryness, and punctures on a regular basis. Most paw injuries start off tiny and painless but can turn into a real problem quickly if they aren’t treated. 
  • Dogs need extra paw protection in wintery conditions — Balms are a great way to prevent dry skin and protect against irritants. If you live in a colder climate, consider booties and paw wipes too.
  • It’s best to use dog-specific products — Dogs lick their feet, so anything that goes on the outside of the dog winds up inside. That’s why we recommend using all-natural products with organic ingredients.
  • Read reviews and pick the right dog balm — Some balms are best for snow, others have a strong scent. Some may stain your carpet. Think about your pup and what might work best for their situation.
Veterinarian showing the paw of a german shepherd

A moderate case of dry paw

The 6 most common causes of dry, cracked paw pads

  • Cold weather and wintery conditions can quickly dry out your dog’s skin. On top of that, rock salt and other chemicals used to deice roads during wintery conditions can cause major skin irritation.
  • Hot pavement can burn and blister dog paws much easier than you think. Burned paw pads may look swollen, red, or blistered. If it’s too hot to the touch, it’s too hot for your dog.
  • Allergies are a big cause of skin problems for dogs. When dogs have itchy paws, they bite and lick for relief, which can make things worse and even lead to a secondary bacterial or yeast infection.
  • Cuts, punctures, and abrasions are part of life, but untreated they can lead to secondary infections. Make a habit of checking your dog’s paws for blood, foreign objects, and loose flaps of skin when you’re going in or out of the house.
  • Hyperkeratosis is a health condition that causes the skin on dog paws (or nose) to thicken and crack. (It’s also referred to as ‘hairy paw.’)
  • Pemphigus is an autoimmune skin disease that usually occurs later in a dog’s life. The severity and frequency of symptoms can vary wildly, but the one commonality is that dog’s often experience blisters and scabs on the face, nose, and paw pads.
  • Zinc-responsive dermatosis is a rare disorder that prevents zinc from being absorbed into the body. The most common symptoms are crusty skin lesions around the eyes, mouth, and scrotum and a breadth of additional problems for your dog, from skin abnormalities and digestive issues.

🚨 If your pet has prolonged irritation despite using a balm or salve on a regular basis, it’s time to call your vet. 

Benefits of using dog paw balms

We all want what’s best for our dogs. Here are the 4 biggest benefits of applying balm to your furry friend’s paws on the regular:

  • Balms protect your dog’s paws against daily wear and tear — Dogs paws weren’t meant to run on concrete. If you and your canine have an active lifestyle, balms will help keep your dog’s paw healthy and strong.
  • Balms protect against cold weather and chemical irritants — Nothing dries out skin like the cold weather. Plus, chemicals used to de-ice roads and sidewalks can irritate your dog’s paws. Balms help protect against both by trapping moisture inside the paws and keeping chemicals out.
  • Balms can be used all over your dog — Just because it says ‘paw balm’ doesn’t mean you can’t use it on your pooch’s nose or hot spots. All our favorite paw balms are safe to use anywhere on your dog (except the eyes, of course).
  • Balms soothe irritation and damage — Thanks to all-natural healing ingredients, paw balms are perfect for treating blisters, cracks, hot spots, cuts, burns, and irritation due to allergies.
making a homemade dog paw balm

Assembling the ingredients! ⚗️

How to make a DIY paw balm at home

If you aren’t convinced by the nine dog balms we reviewed, you can always make your own. It’s more affordable, and you’ll be 100% sure of its ingredients. Just make sure to always test a homemade or new product on a small patch of skin on your dog’s paw pads before applying liberally to make sure they don’t have any kind of reaction.

Before getting started on your own balm at home, make sure that whatever recipe you use doesn’t contain any of these ingredients or essential oils which can be dangerous for dogs:

  • Cinnamon
  • Citrus
  • Pennyroyal
  • Wintergreen
  • Ylang Ylang
  • Peppermint
  • Pine
  • Sweet birch
  • Tea tree

Instead, consider using this yummy-smelling recipe, a betterpet favorite:

Prep time: 10 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa butter
  • 2 tablespoons beeswax
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 20 drops lavender essential oil
  • Spoon or bamboo skewer
  • 4 ounce wide-mouth glass jar with lid

Instructions: Add all of the ingredients to your mason jar. Heat for 30 seconds, then stir the mixture with the spoon or skewer. Repeat as many times as needed until the mixture is completely combined. Let it cool and harden completely before applying.

Results: One of our writers, Mariah Ackery, tested this recipe at home on her pup, Norma. She found it fairly simple to make and applied it to Noma, who didn’t seem bothered or try to lick it off. It took about 15 minutes to dry, and Noma’s paw pads had soaked up most of the excess. Mariah then added a little to Noma’s elbows, which also tend to get dry.

Mariah told betterpet the DIY balm, “worked like a charm. Noma was a happy girl, and I know she loves her soft paws and elbows. We’ll be using the balm throughout the winter months to stay moisturized and protected.”

How to apply dog paw balms

  1. Rub or dab the balm onto the surface of the paw with clean fingers or gentle cloth.
  2. Immediately reward your dog with a treat or distract them with a toy to keep them from licking the balm off.

If you notice a crack or irritated spot when examining your dog’s paw, balms and waxes are a great way to help moisturize and heal the skin. However, if the crack or irritated spot is large or continues to get worse after several weeks of treating it yourself, call your veterinarian.

Remember:

  • Never clean your dog’s paws with rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide
  • Apply a couple of times throughout the day and, most importantly, every night before bed.

Dog paw balms work on the snout too

If you’ve ever been in windy, cold weather, you know your face can get chapped. It’s no fun — for anyone. Dog’s noses are similarly affected by blustery conditions. The good news is that any of our favorite paw balms will work just as well on your dog’s nose. Apply to the skin before going out into the cold and afterward to soothe the snooze.

Here’s why: Nose balms aren’t that different from paw balms. Regardless of what the label says the product is designed for, all dog balms, lotions, and waxes work pretty much the same way. There’s a base mixture of water and oil, called an emulsion, that creates an occlusive layer on the skin. Filled with additional ingredients like essential oils and vitamins, that protective layer traps moisture in your dog’s skin to help keep the skin strong and healthy.

The reality is that your dog is going to ingest some of the balms no matter where you put it. Brands have to keep this in mind when they create skin and coat products. As long as the balm or wax is labeled all-natural or certified organic, you can use it anywhere on the body. The only exception is if a product contains some sort of medication. If it does, ask your vet before applying the product to a body part that isn’t specified on the label.

Booties are another great way to protect your dog’s paw pads

It might take a while for your pet to get used to them, but booties work incredibly well. Plus, they’re super cute. If you live in a cold climate, they’re a no brainer. These fleece boots from Ethical Pet are a sub-$10 option (at the time of publishing) for casual walks, or if you just wanna see how your dog reacts before investing in tougher booties. Check out something like the Frisco anti-slip reflective boots if your dog is extra active or frequents rougher terrain.

Frequently asked questions

Can you use paw balm on a dog’s nose?

Yes, most paw balms work great on the nose too. As long as the product is made of all-natural ingredients, it’s safe to use anywhere on the body. (This applies to all our favorite balms.) It’s almost impossible to keep a dog from eating at least a little bit of product off their body, so brands have to keep this in mind while making dog products. If a product is medicated, though, you should speak to your vet before using it willy nilly.

Can I use Vaseline on my dog’s rough paws?

Vaseline is technically non-toxic for dogs, but we don’t recommend using it. Dogs seem to really enjoy eating Vaseline. And according to our vets, it has a reputation for causing tummy aches. It’s not an exact science, but most vets will advise you to bring your pet in for an examination if you think they’ve eaten a decent amount of Vaseline.

👉 There’s no good reason to use Vaseline instead of another pet product. We recommend avoiding it altogether. 

Can I use olive oil on my dog’s paws?

Yes, olive oil is a perfectly safe treatment for your dog. But is it effective? For hair, yes. For paws and skin, probably. Olive oil is rich in antioxidants, Vitamin E, and fatty acids that work wonders for your dog’s coat. The thing olive oil doesn’t do very well is retain moisture in the skin.

While olive oil is technically an occlusive agent (think of it like saran wrap for your skin), it’s not nearly the best one to use on skin. It’s rich in oleic acid, which can create tiny holes in the outer layer of your skin where moisture can escape.

👉 If you’re dead set on using oil from the grocery store, use argan oil. It’s high in linoleic acid and a much better moisturizer for both humans and dogs.

Can I use Clorox wipes on my dog’s paws?

Do not use Clorox wipes on your dog’s paws or anywhere else on their body. Not only is bleach a harsh irritant for your dog’s skin, but it’s also toxic if ingested or breathed. Dogs are going to lick their paws no matter what, so using a Clorox wipe is never a good idea when there are so many other options available, including a quick rinse with warm soapy water.

But what if I want the peace of mind of knowing my dog’s paws are sanitized? We get it. Some of us pet owners are a little OCD — for good reason too. Still, we don’t recommend using Clorox on your dog. Here’s why:

  • Dogs have a much stronger stomach and immune system than humans — Their bodies can handle way more than you. The average bacteria don’t stand a chance in your dog’s gut.
  • There are other, safer ways to disinfect your dog’s paws — If you’re concerned about tracking bacteria into the house, rinse your dog’s paws with warm soapy water before going into the house. Distilled vinegar is another good option. It’s a natural antifungal. Finally, there are all sorts of dog-safe wipes available on Chewy and Amazon powered with natural antibacterial oils and ingredients.

Can I put coconut oil on my dog’s paws?

Yes, coconut oil is safe to use on your dog and found in almost every paw balm on the market. But coconut oil alone, without the benefits from other essential oils and ingredients, isn’t your best option.

Like olive oil, coconut oil is high in oleic acid. Oleic acid makes for shiny, sleek hair, but without complimentary moisturizing agents, it can create microscopic holes in the outermost layer of your skin and even induce dog acne. Instead, you should use an oil that is high in linoleic acid which is a much more effective moisturizer — moisture is the key to healthy paw pads. Argan oil and grapeseed oil are two of the best options you can swipe on your next Target run.

If my dog licks the paw balm off, will it make him sick?

This depends on the type of balm you use. Ingesting a little all-natural paw balm or wax is no big deal. Those products are designed for dogs. If your dog eats Vaseline or some other human product, there’s a good chance your furball’s in for a stomach ache. That’s why we recommend sticking with certified organic balms with all-natural ingredients. It’s a fact: Dog’s are going to eat some of what you put on their body.

Do I need to wash paw balm off after use?

No, you shouldn’t wash paw balm off. But you shouldn’t leave gobs and gobs of it on your pooch either. Here’s a tip: It’s like putting a lip balm on your lips. You want just enough product to make a nice even coating, but that’s it. Apply generously to your dog’s paw at first and wipe the excess away with a soft rag or paper towel.

When should I talk to my vet about my dog’s feet or nose condition?

It’s always appropriate to talk to your pup’s veterinarian if you have any concerns. However, if your dog’s paws are cracking, you’ll want to go in for a visit.

Can I use human products on my dog’s feet?

No. Balms and moisturizers designed for humans often contain chemicals that are toxic for your dog. Your dog will ingest when they lick their paws. Also, human skin and dog skin have different pH levels — among other things. So, don’t use human products on your pup without checking with a vet first.

How often do I have to reapply dog paw balms?

If you’re going for a short walk, you’re probably fine to just apply it before leaving home. If you’re worried, take the balm with you in case it wears off. You can also apply a balm after a walk to soothe those tired feet.

Should I worry if my dog’s nose is dry?

Not necessarily. We often hear that dogs’ noses are supposed to be wet. This is true to a degree, but a dry nose doesn’t signal poor health. If the skin is irritated or discolored, however, then you need to talk to your vet.

Are parabens OK for dogs?

Parabens are generally considered carcinogenic for dog owners, so why take the risk with dogs. There’s no research on the effect on dogs specifically, but we recommend avoiding products that contain any type of paraben, including methylparaben.