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healthy canine living

How to make a DIY dog paw balm: 3 all-natural recipes

Dog balms are great for soothing and protecting paw pads. They’re also easy to make at home.

Updated February 25, 2021

Created By

Mariah Ackary,
a spread of ingredients for a diy homemade paw balm

I'm basically at chemist at this point

Imagine you tagged along with your dog, barefoot for a day. What kinds of surfaces and substances would you be up against? Probably concrete, rocks, sticks, and chemicals for starters. You’d likely acquire a few new callouses!

Your pet’s paws are tough, built to take them from adventure to adventure. But they need a little love from time to time. Irritants and abrasive surfaces can cause your dog’s paws to dry out, crack, and bleed — especially in extreme heat or cold. Not only is this painful for your pup, but it can lead to infections.

In the same way that lotion and shoes protect your feet, paw balms can help your doggie avoid painful skin cracking, especially during cold weather. A good paw balm will have moisturizing ingredients (like olive oil, vitamin E oil, or cocoa butter) and a protective, waxy ingredient (like beeswax). Antifungal and antibacterial ingredients are an added bonus.

With the help of veterinarians, we’ve researched and ranked the best dog balms on the market. But if you love to DIY, a basic paw balm is easy to make. Plus, you might have several of the ingredients in your house already.

See how I made my balms

DIY paw balm recipes for your furry friends

You can find many of the best paw balms for under $20, but you can probably create your own for even cheaper. While your upfront costs may be a bit more expensive, you’ll have leftover ingredients to make several more batches.

Another benefit of making your own paw balm is that you can customize and minimize the ingredients that go into the balm. For au naturale dog owners like me, this is a huge plus.

🚨  Always test new products on a small patch of skin on your dog’s paw pads before you apply to a large area like the entire paw.

If you can’t find trustworthy information about an ingredient’s toxicity for dogs, you probably shouldn’t use it. If you want to be sure that your balm or ingredients are safe, consult a veterinarian.

The minimalist

Prep time: 10 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 4 tablespoons shea butter
  • 8 teaspoons beeswax
  • 4 ounce wide-mouth glass jar with lid
  • Spoon or bamboo skewer

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.

Original recipe from Everyday Dog Mom 

The fresh and clean

This is similar to The Minimalist, but it uses cocoa butter instead of shea butter. The two are very similar in terms of moisturizing ability, but cocoa butter has a little bit more of a nutty scent. This recipe also includes lavender essential oil for its fragrance and antibacterial properties.

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.

🍁 The cozy autumn blend

This recipe is for someone who wants to go the extra mile. It has the same base as the first two, but it also includes vitamin E oil, chamomile essential oil, and calendula oil for extra fall coziness. Not only are these ingredients soothing to smell, but they’re also packed with benefits. Chamomile essential oil has anti-inflammatory properties, while calendula oil is a widely loved skin-saver with antifungal, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial properties.

Prep time: 10 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons shea butter
  • 2 tablespoons beeswax
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 10 drops vitamin E oil
  • 10 drops calendula oil
  • 10 drops chamomile essential oil
  • 4-ounce glass bowl
  • bamboo skewer
  • 4-ounce wide-mouth container and 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.

two happy dogs

Noma (left) with her best friend Venus (right)

My experience making the lavender paw balm

I chose to make “The Fresh and Clean” because I love the smell of lavender, and the antibacterial properties are a nice bonus for my girl, Noma. As a ten-year-old, she’s less active on her feet, but her paws still get a little dry from time to time. With winter coming up, I’m excited to have a good paw balm to keep her happy.

Preparation

I already had coconut oil, lavender essential oil, and olive oil on hand. I was able to get all of the remaining ingredients at Michaels. Everything aside from olive oil can probably be found at any craft store.

For the beeswax and cocoa butter, I used a brand called Simple Serenity because that was all that Michaels carried. If you do your shopping online, you can probably be a little bit pickier about specific brands you like. I also decided to go with beeswax pellets instead of a solid bar. This makes melting a bit quicker.

a spread of ingredients for a diy homemade paw balm

I pre-mixed my oils together in the measuring cup in hopes of avoiding a mess. Spoiler: I still made a mess. I definitely recommend having some paper towels laid out ahead of time for resting your stirring stick and cleaning up spills.

Creation

The great part about this balm is that it’s kind of like a one-pot dinner. You simply dump everything in the container and heat. I started with the cocoa butter, which had a similar consistency to a bar of soap, though a bit softer.

scooping beeswax for a homemade dog paw balm and wax

This part was really satisfying

Then I layered in the beeswax pellets, coconut oil, lavender essential oil, and olive oil. As you can see, my tiny jar was pretty full. Everything fit, especially when it melted. But I had to be careful not to spill when stirring because it was so full. If you’d like, you can use a larger jar or measuring cup and transfer to your smaller jar after it’s all melted.

filling the jar

Getting a real quinoa vibe here

Then I began microwaving in 30 second increments, stirring in between rounds. My microwave is puny (only 700 watts), so it took several rounds to see some serious melting.

After a total of 2 minutes and 30 seconds in the microwave, the mixture was very hot, but still had a lot of unmelted pellets.

lots of unmelted pellets

Fresh out of the microwave

After stirring for about 15 seconds, all the pellets all melted and I was left with a liquid.

jar of melting paw balm wax

Just took a little stirring is all!

I screwed on the cap and left it to cool. I’m a nighttime crafter, so Noma and I were pretty tired by the time I was finished. We decided to check on the mixture in the morning, but you don’t need to let this sit overnight. You’ll know it’s done as soon as it’s cool and solid.

relaxing dog

Relaxation goals 💯

When we checked in the morning, the balm was perfect. It was firm, lighter in color, and had a lovely scent. Since I closed the container while it was still hot, the jar popped when I opened it and created a little hole in the mixture. No big deal, but if you’d like it to be pretty and smooth, maybe allow your mixture to cool without the lid.

jar of freshly made diy paw balm

The finished product in all it's glory 🙌

Application

Noma doesn’t really suffer from dry paws, so I wanted to use this balm more for protection, rather than healing. First, I did a patch test on one paw pad. After rubbing a small amount in, I waited 30 minutes to check for redness, swelling, or other signs of an allergic reaction. After finding nothing concerning, I went ahead and applied more.

She was a little finicky about having her paws touched and moved, so dipping her paws in the balm didn’t work too well. After a quick arm wrestle, I decided to scoop up a small amount with my hand, and rub it into her paw pads. I let her out to potty first and then had her lay down after I applied the balm so that it could soak in for as long as possible without being rubbed away. The balm was not overly greasy even right after applying, but there was some residue. Here is the before and after.

a dry dog paw

A kinda dry and a little scruffy paw

She sniffed at the balm a little bit, but didn’t seem to mind it or try to lick it off. After about 15 minutes of drying, her paw pads had soaked up most of the excess. I decided to put some on her elbows as well, where she really tends to get dry. It worked like a charm! Here’s the before and after.

close up of moisturized dog paws

A freshly moisturized paw

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.

Storing homemade paw balms

Because they aren’t made with preservatives, DIY paw balms can “go bad” if exposed to bacteria or fungus. The three main contaminants are bacteria, mold, and yeast. If you start to notice a change in smell or appearance (color or texture), your balm has probably gone bad.

Proper storing and planning can help keep your balm safe from spoiling and last for six months or longer. Here are some tips to help you get the most life out of your homemade balm.

  • Use an oil-based recipe, like the ones listed above (water can encourage contaminant growth)
  • Make sure your jar and stirring utensil are sterile
  • Store in a jar, tube, or airtight container like these
  • Store in a cool, dry environment as heat can encourage bacteria growth

Ingredients to avoid when DIY

The advantage of making your own dog balm is that you have control over the ingredients. But it’s as much a responsibility as it is an advantage. Just because an ingredient is safe for human use, does not mean it’s safe to use on your dog. Before you go experimenting, you should feel confident that every ingredient you use is pet safe.

While these recipes include lavender and chamomile essential oils, it’s important to know that many essential oils are toxic to dogs. Here is a list of essential oils that are not safe for dogs to ingest or even use topically.

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

Alternatives to making your own paw balm

If you decide you don’t want to go through the trouble of making your own, there are plenty of fantastic paw balms with all-natural ingredients. Here are a few of our favorites: