Whenever your pup goes outdoors, their paws come into contact with dirt, debris, and bacteria, which they then bring back into the home. Washing your dog's paws whenever they come indoors will help prevent muddy paw prints on the floor, but most importantly, remove bacteria that could lead to infection. Therefore, cleaning your dog's paws is a must and something you should get into the habit of doing every day. We recommend you clean paws after each walk using the tips below. However, be mindful not to overuse cleaning products as they can strip away natural oils and cause dryness.
6 Tips On How To Clean Dog Paws
As part of our dog grooming guide, here are six ways to keep your dog’s paws dirt and bacteria free and thus, keep infections at bay.
1. Specialized dog wipes
If your dog is in and out multiple times a day, you understandably won't want to wash their feet each time they come inside. Thankfully, you can buy cleaning wipes specially formulated for dogs. Wipes allow you to quickly clean their feet and remove debris and bacteria in just a few minutes. It's essential that you only use pet-specific wipes to clean paws as wipes designed for humans, including baby wipes, may contain toxic ingredients for dogs. Dog wipes are also great for cleaning your pup's feet on the go. You can carry them in your bag while out on a walk, and if you see your pup step in something gross, you can instantly clean the feet.
2. Thoroughly clean with tap water
If the ground is wet from rain or your dog has been digging, you'll likely be dealing with some very muddy paws. Likewise, if you have taken your pup to the beach, you'll be tasked with removing tiny grains of sand from their feet. In these situations, dog wipes are not sufficient, so instead, you'll need to wash your dog's feet with water. If you have a small breed, you can easily pick them up and put them in the sink to wash their feet under running water. However, if you have a large dog, you'll need to take them into the bath or shower. Better still, if you have a hose pipe outdoors, you can clean their feet before bringing them indoors. Another way to avoid having your dog run indoors with dirty feet is to fill a large bowl with water and submerge their feet. Whichever way you decide to wash your dog's feet, be sure to thoroughly dry them afterward.
3. Use dog specific products
Along with dog wipes, you can use a range of dog-specific cleaning products to remove dirt and bacteria from your dog's feet. Some of the most common products are dog shampoos and soaps. You can also get pet fizz tablets that you dissolve in water before soaking your dog's feet. While water alone can remove the visible debris, it is not enough to kill bacteria. However, as many dog shampoos and soaps have antibacterial properties, you can wash your dog's feet with these products, then rinse them under running water. An excellent portable paw cleaning solution is a paw plunger. This small but handy accessory gently removes mud, dirt, sand, and more from your dog's paws and is small and light enough to keep in your car. Simply fill it with water and then submerge one foot at a time. If you worry that your dog has picked up bacteria or fungus while out and about, you can clean their feet with a dog paw disinfectant spray. You can buy these from pet stores or make your own dog paw cleaning solution using a water and vinegar mixture. Simply combine 2 parts water with 1 part white vinegar or apple cider vinegar.
4. Clean in between the toes, the paw pads, and the nails
When cleaning your dog's paws, one of the most essential things is to thoroughly clean and remove dirt from all the hard-to-reach areas. Debris tends to stick and clump to the paw pads, in between the toes, and under the nails, three regions where bacteria usually resides and causes infection. Cleaning in between the toes is particularly vital during the winter. Ice and snow can get trapped here and cause much discomfort. Likewise, salt from deicers can irritate the paw pads and even make your dog sick if they lick their feet. So when cleaning your dog's feet, don't forget to wash these areas well and then dry them thoroughly after.
5. Use doggie boots
Consider getting dog booties if your dog spends a lot of time outdoors and you don't want to keep cleaning its feet. Dog boots protect your pup's feet from the elements and harsh conditions like hot or icy surfaces. In addition, they keep their feet totally dirt and bacteria-free and prevent them from cutting their paw pads on sharp objects or rough terrain. Some dogs accept wearing boots quicker than others, so you might have to be patient. Typically, the younger you start a canine wearing boots, the faster they become comfortable.
6. Establish a paw grooming routine
Whether you take your dog to the groomers or give them baths and haircuts at home, remember to include the paws in this routine. Some dog breeds like Shih Tzus, French Bulldogs, and Golden Retrievers grow hair tufts between their toes. While this looks super cute, it makes their feet more susceptible to irritation and infection as rain, snow, and dirt can trap in their hairs. Regularly trimming paw hair can reduce the dirt and bacteria build-up here. Another essential part of paw grooming is nail trimming. As dog claws harbor grime and bacteria, the longer they are, the more likely a paw infection will occur. Therefore, check their length frequently and trim or grind their nails. How often this is required will depend on your dog's lifestyle, as some dogs are good at keeping their nails short naturally.