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Pet Safety
Rubbing Vaseline on a dog's paws

The essentials

  • Vaseline is also known as petroleum jelly — It’s inexpensive and easily found in drugstores.
  • Vaseline can be used topically on dogs’ noses and paws — But it isn’t always the best option.
  • If your dog ingests Vaseline in large quantities, they might develop an upset stomach or have diarrhea — If your dog has ingested a jar of Vaseline, call your vet ASAP.

Is Vaseline safe for my dog? 

Vaseline is not toxic to dogs, so yes, you can use Vaseline on or around your pets. You might be put off by the fact that it’s a byproduct of the oil industry and is made from processing oil (petroleum), but it’s still safe as a topical for pets. Most commonly, Vaseline is used to protect dogs’ paws or cracked noses in cold weather and might even be helpful when trying to heal a wound.

If you’re in a pinch and have some Vaseline in the house, it’s fine to use on your pup’s paws or nose. But there are better alternatives out there, like balms specifically formulated for dogs.

Tips for using Vaseline on your dog’s cracked and dry paws

Since Vaseline can be messy and your pup might be tempted to lick it off, it should be used with a bit of caution. Use the following tips when applying Vaseline to your dog’s paws:

Only use a thin layer of Vaseline — Remember: A little Vaseline goes a long way. When applying a coat of Vaseline to your dog’s paw pads, avoid globbing it on since your pup might track it all over your house.

👉 Pro tip: Vaseline can also make wood floors slick, so be sure to clean up any paw prints or spills so that no one slips.

Consider applying the Vaseline outside — Don’t want your pup tracking Vaseline all over your floors? Try applying it outside. If you’re using it before heading out in nasty weather, stay just inside the door and head out for your walk as soon as you’re done applying.

Wipe off the Vaseline when you come in from a walk — After your pup comes in from the elements, wipe any leftover Vaseline off their paws. You might want to keep some pet-safe wipes or a towel by the door for this purpose. Another good reason to wipe your dog’s paws when you come in from a winter walk is that any ice, snow, salt, or de-icing chemicals will also be removed.

Use booties — Another way to stave off the mess is to have your dog wear booties after applying Vaseline. Once the petroleum jelly dries, you would then remove the booties and wipe any excess off their paws. You could also skip the Vaseline entirely and use a pair of booties to shield your dog’s feet from the elements or protect a cut or blister as it heals.

👉 Never leave booties on your pup for more than an hour. They can tighten around your dog’s ankles as they walk, causing loss of circulation, swelling, irritation, and even skin infections

Paw-protecting alternatives to Vaseline

Vaseline might be OK in a pinch, but there are better products out there, like a dog paw balm or nose balm, which can help soothe your pup’s dry, cracked skin. Dogs that are big lickers should also stay away from Vaseline since ingesting too much of it can cause tummy issues like vomiting and diarrhea.

Paw balms we recommend

A note on Vaseline and itchy skin

You might be tempted to use Vaseline to moisturize your dog’s dry skin, protect patches of itchy skin, or cover up dry patches on your dog’s ears. However, Vaseline is not the best choice in any of these circumstances. Rather than using Vaseline, ask your vet about a medicated shampoo, which will help treat the cause of your pup’s skin issue and provide them with relief.

If you want something natural to soothe your dog’s skin you might also think about reaching for coconut oil or olive oil, but Dr. Michelle Diener says she doesn’t recommend using either as a moisturizer. Instead, an omega-3 fatty acid supplement like Nordic Naturals Omega-3 Pet is a great treatment for dry skin that’s mess-free and effective.

What to do if your pup eats Vaseline

If your pup eats a little bit of Vaseline, don’t panic. But call your veterinarian if your pup has managed to get their paws (and mouth) on an entire container and eaten a significant amount. You’ll want to watch out for signs of an upset stomach or vomiting.

You should also always contact your veterinarian if your dog ingests any substance they aren’t supposed to eat.

🚨 If your dog were to vomit up Vaseline and then aspirate, they would need immediate medical care, as this can be life-threatening.

Frequently asked questions 

Is petroleum jelly safe for dog paws?

Yes! We recommend a paw balm such as Paw Soother or Musher’s Secret, but if you need something in a pinch, petroleum jelly works just fine.

Is it safe to put Vaseline on my dog’s nose?

Yes, Vaseline can be used on your dog’s dry or cracked nose, but it might not be your best bet. Using a balm that’s designed for your dog’s nose might be better for them in the long term. Just be sure to check the ingredients with your local vet to ensure the product is nontoxic.

What happens if a dog licks Vaseline off their paws?

Vaseline can have a negative impact on your dog’s digestive system. But if your dog licks a little bit of Vaseline off of their paws, it’s not a real cause for concern. A lot of Vaseline can have a laxative effect and cause gastrointestinal issues, like an upset stomach, vomiting, or diarrhea.

What should you do if your pup eats Vaseline?

If your pup has eaten only a small quantity of Vaseline, you’ll want to watch out for signs of gastrointestinal upset, like vomiting or diarrhea. If your pup has eaten a great deal of Vaseline, call your vet for further instructions.