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The best all-natural dog paw balms and waxes

Updated October 30, 2020

Created By

Kristen Bobst,,, Andy Bowen
Paw balms are a must-buy for all dog parents, especially during cold weather. Here are the 9 quality balms you can trust to heal and prevent cracked skin, hot spots, and dry paws.

the essentials

  • Make a habit of checking your dog’s paws — Inspect your dog’s paws for cracks, dryness, and punctures even if your dog doesn’t appear to have a problem. Most paw injuries start off tiny and painless but can turn into a big problem without treatment.
  • 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.
  • Some balms can stain your carpet and clothes — They’re filled with oils after all. Test it out on an old rag before you go ham on those paws.

The 9 best dog paw balms and waxes

Pros: What we like

  • Has an impressively low Skin Deep® score
  • Manufactured entirely in the USA
  • Multiple sizes, including an easy-apply travel stick
  • 4.5 stars on Amazon (2,000+ reviews at the time of publishing)
  • Gets a ton of love on Instagram (our team double taps before-and-afters like this on the regular)

Cons: Things to consider

  • The strong herbal scent might be off-putting for some dogs (or owners)
  • It’s one of the more expensive balms

Ingredients

coconut oil, cupuacu butter, jojoba oil, calendula extract, cajeput essential oil, chamomile, natural vitamin e, rosemary extract, tea tree oil

Pros: What we like

  • It has very few ingredients, making it a great choice for dogs with extra sensitive skin
  • Lots of reviews mentioned it works well for cats too
  • 4.5 stars on Amazon (900+ reviews)
  • A family-owned, USA company

Cons: Things to consider

  • It has fewer antibiotic ingredients than other picks, so there are better options for treating open wounds
  • It’s pretty thick. Some reviews mention it takes a lot of pressure to spread it over the paw, in which case it’s not the ideal treatment for dogs with a painful injury

Ingredients

organic shea butter, jojoba oil, beeswax, hemp seed oil, calendula extract

Pros: What we like

  • Very few dogs want to lick it off (<2% of reviews mentioned their dogs eating it)
  • It contains actual beeswax
  • The tub is larger than competitors (the price per oz is super affordable)

Cons: Things to consider

  • Some owners complain that it’s pretty thin for wax
  • It’s best suited for protection against colder weather and snow

Ingredients

white beeswax, yellow beeswax, carnauba wax, candelilla wax, white oil, vegetable oil, vitamin e

Pros: What we like

  • The price is pretty competitive
  • Made with USDA-certified organic ingredients
  • The smooth texture gets a lot of praise in the reviews

Cons: Things to consider

  • A decent amount of Amazon customers complained about it staining their carpet, hands, or towels
  • It doesn’t have many ingredients with anti-inflammatory properties, so it might not be the best solution for hot spots

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

Pros: What we like

  • It’s the most hypoallergenic balm we’ve found
  • Endorsed by the AKC
  • Certified to USDA organic standards
  • It’s pretty affordable compared to other balms

Con: Consider this

Some of the customer reviews indicate that the balm starts to separate into a grainy liquid if it’s not stored at room temperature.

Ingredients
sunflower oil, olive oil, hemp oil, calendula oil, beeswax, rosemary oil, St. John’s wort, carnauba wax

Pros: What we like

  • Customer service got several shout-outs on Amazon
  • Great for dogs that are obsessed with licking off their balm (has very few ingredients)

Cons: Things to consider

  • It looks good on paper but had very few reviews on Amazon at the time of publishing
  • Lots of customers reported that it didn’t relieve their dogs’ itchiness

Ingredients

rice bran oil, coconut oil, shea butter, beeswax, rice bran wax, jojoba oil, emu oil, vitamin e, lavender oil

Pros: What we like

  • Amazon reviews are filled with comments about how quickly it works
  • It’s less than half the cost of competitors
  • Contains triticum vulgare (wheat germ) oil and unique sources of Vitamin E

Cons: Things to consider

  • It has a low percentage of 5-star reviews (65%) compared to our other favorites
  • It’s the only balm we found with mineral oil, which 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, fragrance

Pros: What we like

  • The tube is handy and makes for easy application
  • The pricing is competitive
  • 100% made in the USA

Cons: Things to consider

  • Had <100 reviews on Amazon at the time of publishing
  • It’s really thick and doesn’t apply well in cooler weather

Ingredients

coconut oil, candelila wax, cupuacu butter, sweet almond oil, coconut oil, hemp oil, calendula oil, vitamin e oil, lavender, lemon

Pros: What we like

  • It’s the most nutrient-packed balm we found (has 22 ingredients)
  • It’s crazy cheap (<10$ at the time of publishing)
  • Has the highest number of positive reviews by a large margin (8,000+ total reviews at the time of publishing)

Con: Consider this

Given that it’s less than half the price of other balms, and has more ingredients, it’s plausible to think it might have lower quality ingredients

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, jojoba alcohol

How we picked our favorites

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.).

At a glance: The best dog paw balms and paw waxes

Benefits of using dog paw balms and waxes: It’s all about the ingredients

Balms keep your dog’s skin hydrated and healthy, especially if you’re extra active or live in a cold climate. When you take a deep dive into the ingredients, though, it’s easy to see the benefits go far beyond moisture alone. Here are some of the most important ingredients found in paw balms and waxes and what they do:

Jojoba oil

Jojoba oil is rich with natural Vitamin E, making it a natural antioxidant. It’s also antibacterial: Lab tests have determined that while it’s not the most powerful antioxidant out there, it does kill certain bacteria and fungi that cause salmonella, E. coli, and candida.

Calendula oil

This one’s pretty cool. Research indicates that that calendula can accelerate wound healing. On top of that, one lab study found that calendula extract is likely an effective treatment and prevention for acne vulgari (nose acne). Fun fact: It’s significantly more effective at treating diaper rash than aloe vera.

Organic shea butter

Shea butter is a proven anti-inflammatory. Reducing inflammation and redness helps to soothe dryness and itchiness. Less itching and chewing means a faster healing time for your pup.

Lemon

The lemon essential oil has potent antibiotic properties that make it perfect for cleaning and healing small wounds, including cracked paws. Lemon is also a confirmed anti-inflammatory and natural pain reliever.

Veterinarian showing the paw of a german shepherd

A moderate case of dry paw

The 6 most common causes of dry, cracked paw pads

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

Cold weather and wintery conditions ❄️

Cold weather dries out your dog’s skin — that’s pretty basic. What you might not know is that rock salt and other chemicals used to deice roads during wintery conditions are harsh irritants. Salt exposure can be very painful, so always protect those puppy feet if you suspect a surface has been de-iced recently. Balms are extra important during winter because they create a barrier between your pup’s paws and the irritants on the ground while simultaneously locking in moisture.

Winter isn’t the only time you have to watch out for irritants though. In fact, some of them might live inside your home. Here’s a list of household hazards to watch out for, including hand soap and bug spray.

Hot pavement

Burns and blisters. Unfortunately, pets can and do suffer burns on their paw pads from walking on surfaces that are too hot. Burned paw pads may look swollen, red, or blistered.

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, 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, a long walk could lead to swollen or blistered paw pads.

Allergies

Just like people, dogs can suffer from allergic dermatitis. In fact, allergies continue to become a  bigger problem for both dogs and cats. The symptoms (including hives, inflammation, itchiness, and swelling) usually manifest around the eyes and ears, but they can also be seen on the wrists, groin, belly, and of course, the paws.

When dogs have itchy paws, they bite and lick for relief, which can lead to a couple of problems. First, if the itch is bad enough, a dog might rub themselves raw to the point of breaking the skin. More licking and chewing just exacerbates the problem, leading to a rough, cracked paw.

Incessant licking and chewing also keep the skin extra moist, which is a perfect environment for yeast and bacteria. A secondary infection makes the paw hurt and itches worse, so the dog licks and chews even more. It’s a vicious cycle that often requires serious veterinary treatment.

Cuts, punctures, and abrasions ⛰

These injuries are usually no big deal. Minor cuts and scrapes are part of life — especially if you and your dog are extra active or adventurous. If they go untreated, though, a secondary infection could lead to bigger problems. 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.

👉 Learn how to care for cuts, abrasions, and other common dog injuries with our pet first aid guide.

Hyperkeratosis

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 — especially those with aloe vera and lanolin.

Pemphigus

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

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.

How to apply dog paw balms

Step 1: Rub or dab the balm onto the surface of the paw with clean fingers or gentle cloth.

Step 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.

 

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FAQs

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, 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. Dog’s 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.