How we picked our favorites
We started with all-natural — We only entertained products labeled “all-natural” with stellar reviews or a vet recommendation.
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 contained highly debated ingredients (synthetic fragrances, silicones, PUFAs, formaldehyde releasers, etc.).
👉 We don’t recommend anything for dogs that we wouldn’t feel comfortable putting on our own skin.
- Climate isn’t everything. Some dogs have a condition called hyperkeratosis and will need extra foot care no matter where they live.
- Salt used for de-icing is bad for dog paws. Dogs who live in harsh winter climates must use foot protection like paw balm to avoid foot irritation from rock salt.
- Keep an eye on the feet. Check your dog’s paw pads often to make sure they’re in good health. Happy feet is the name of the game.
- The nose can get chapped and burned, too. From winter dryness to summer sunburns, keep an eye on the nose.
At a glance: The best paw balms
- Natural Dog Company PAW SOOTHER® — Highest quality / our most favorite
- Musher’s Secret Natural Dog Wax — A popular beeswax product
- 4-Legger Certified Organic Nose and Paw Pad Healing Balm — A great no-scent option
- Pure and Natural Pet™ Rescue Balm — AKC-approved rescue balm
Common conditions that a paw or nose balm can help
Along with chilly weather, winter climates often expose dogs’ paws to harsh irritants like rock salt and other chemicals used to deice roads. Salt exposure can be very painful, so always protect those puppy feet if you suspect a surface has been deiced recently. Having a barrier between your pup’s paws and the ground helps keep that salt from sticking to your dog’s feet, all while nourishing the footpad skin.
Dogs who put miles on their feet in the hot summer weather can also injure their paws, too. In fact, if it’s blazing out, always check the temperature of paved or sandy surfaces. If it’s too hot to the touch, it’s too hot for your dog. Even if the surface isn’t super hot, other factors like humidity can cause trouble tootsies that will have your dog saying, “The floor really is lava!”
Hyperkeratosis and paw balms
Dog paw balms are also good for treating pre-existing skin conditions such as hyperkeratosis. Hyperkeratosis is a health condition dogs suffer when the skin on their feet (or nose) thickens and cracks. It’s also referred to as ‘hairy paw.’ When skin builds up too much (think about the last callous you had), it can itch and crack. Cracking can lead to bleeding. Bleeding can lead to infection. Typically, non-waxed-based balms or butters are better at treating hyperkeratosis than thicker products.
The nose knows
If you’ve ever been in chilly, windy 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 you can prevent a wind-whipped more whiff on your waggler. Apply a protective balm to your pup’s sensitive nose skin before going out into the cold and afterward to soothe the snooze.
Warm weather isn’t hazard-free, either. Dog’s noses can also get sunburnt. Check and see if the balm you’re considering offers any sun protection if you and your pooch are planning to enjoy a long dog day of summer.
Everything you need to know about dog balms, waxes, and butters
The term ‘paw balm’ describes the category of skincare products designed with your dog’s foot health in mind. These balms, creams, waxes, butters, and lotions protect — and in some cases — help heal your dog’s dry, chapped, or cracked skin. They form barriers and moisturize the feet. It’s best to use products formulated specifically for dogs. Dogs lick their feet, so anything that goes on the outside of the dog winds up inside.
The formulation of a paw balm determines how thick it will be and what its best uses are. Waxes will be heavier, whereas non-waxed-based creams and butters will have a lighter feel. Finding the balm that works best for your dog depends on the climate you’re in and what activities your pooch enjoys. Waxes, due to their thicker texture, offer more or a protective barrier against the elements.
Other products work better for moisturizing and soothing a pup’s feet after a long spell of activity. At betterpet, we are proponents of all-natural products, so look for a balm with ingredients you’re familiar with — and if you’re more comfortable making your own dog skincare products, we’ve got a great DIY recipe for homemade paw balm.
Make a habit of looking at your dog’s feet
This is to make sure your pup’s paw pads are not cracked or injured in any way. Just as harsh weather can do a number on human skin, extreme hot and cold temperatures can also be ruff on your dog’s paws. We have shoes to protect our feet, but what if your doggo isn’t keen on rocking booties? Well, you’ve got the luck of the Irish setter because paw balms can be a great alternative to trying to slip sandals on a Saluki.
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. Products 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 re-apply 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.