It’s quite common for dogs to dislike grooming and handling, or anything that feels unnatural, in general. For many of our pets, having their paws (or face) handled is quite nerve-racking. Using force or restraint to apply something such as a balm only makes things worse, exhausting you and reinforcing to your pup that it is, in fact, something to fear.
Dog paws can act both as shock absorbers and brakes for our furry friends. They help protect the bones and joints in and around the foot, while also aiding in stability when on slippery surfaces or steep slopes. Though paw pads are made up of a layer of fatty tissue, they can still be susceptible to injury, cracking, and discomfort.
Walking on different types of textures, surfaces and terrains can pose a threat to those delicate digits. Long nails may get caught in grating, causing paws to get cut on sharp material, or even suffer wounds from the elements.
You’ll know your fur baby has a paw issue if they indicate discomfort. If they are limping and licking at the paw incessantly, or favoring a paw when walking around, you can safely assume there is something wrong. It is usually due to a scratch, cut, foreign item (such as a thorn or glass), puncture, or laceration. A paw balm would be a great solution for these problems, that is, if you can actually apply it to your dog!
It can be tricky, but with a little knowledge and some tricks, you can change your dog’s mind about grooming time and having their paws handled. We’ve got a few helpful tips that will make applying paw balm a breeze for both you and your dog.
What is Paw Balm?
While some dog owners outfit their pups infootwear for preventative reasons, this is not a permanent solution to mitigate paw problems for our furry friends. Enter, dog paw balm, a topical product that can help prevent damage to dogs’ paw pads, as well as soothe, heal, and moisturize them when cracked or sore.
The Benefits of Paw Balm:
Dog paw balm has many benefits, including:
- Alleviating discomfort fordog paw hyperkeratosis (a.k.a. “hairy paw”), which is a health condition in dogs that cause paw pads (and noses) to thicken and crack
- Protecting paws from the elements, chemicals, ice, concrete and other rough surfaces
- Moisturizing paw pads
- Treating blisters, cracks, cuts, burns and irritation on paws or other areas
How to Apply Paw Balm:
The first step to successful balm application is timing! For best results, you’ll want to apply a balm when your dog is relaxed, to minimize squirming or anxiety about handling. Try nap time or sleep time. You want to make sure any balm you use is dog-safe and non-toxic because they tend to lick it off. Any balm you purchase should also be simple to use and easy to apply.
To use dog paw balm correctly, first cleanyour hands to keep your pup safe from infection and contamination. Then, simply rub or dab the balm directly onto the paw. You can also use a gentle cloth. Never use rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide on your dog’s paws. You may do this for humans when they have a cut or scrape, but those rules don’t apply for our precious fur babies.
Some pet parents might reward their dog with a treat after application to make the experience a positive one. This will also keep your dog distracted enough for a bit so he or she doesn’t lick the balm before it can do its job. Use the balm as often as directed on the packaging, which will roughly be a couple of times a day. At night, or right before your pooch goes to sleep, will be the most optimal time to apply since they will be in a more still position.
Since balms sometimes contain a lot of oil, they can make dogs’ paws slippery on slick surfaces. This can be a bigger issue with senior dogs who may need more traction due to arthritis. Try to let the product(s) dry a bit before the dog walks around or plays.
Nose-related discomfort is quite often due to dry or flaky skin on the top ridge of your dog’s nose. To alleviate pain, nourish, and protect your pup’s nose, gently apply a balm 2-3 times a day until their nose is consistently smooth and moist.
Our Favorite Dog Paw Balm
THE BALM by PRIDE+GROOM is all natural and addresses those pet parts that are prone to dryness. Whether the culprit is the cold, the heat, or just plain genes, a quick slick of the balm to paws, noses and pesky dry patches delivers moisturizing healing, long-lasting relief. Ruff spots begone!
Due to natural, high quality ingredients in this product, we recommend storing in a cool, dry place.
Ingredients: Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil, Beeswax White, Argania Spinosa Kernel Oil, Tocopherol, Fragrance, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Flower Oil, Helichrysum Gymnocephalum Essential Oil, Sweet Marjoram Essential Oil.
How to Know There’s An Issue
Examine the bottoms of the paws to try to identify where the problem is coming from and how severe it is. If you notice any scabbing, oozing or crusting, it may be soothing to soak the paws in antibacterial soap and water. If you suspect something may be embedded in the paw, you can soak the paw in warm water and Epsom salts.
When It’s Hot:
Walking on a hot surface such as tar or brick can severely burn paw pads. When the weather is hot, avoid taking your dog out during peak hours or in direct sunlight. It’s best to get those walks in early in the morning and late at night before the sun has had a chance to really heat things up. Even if you don’t suspect the surface of being hot, always test the pavement with your bare foot or the back of your hand. The rule of thumb is, if it’s too hot for your foot, it’s too hot for your dog’s paw.
When It’s Cold:
Similarly, when there are freezing temperatures, sharp pieces of ice can cut into your dogs’ paws. The added irritation from frozen and salted sidewalks can cause great pain for a dog. Some sort of protective covering like dog shoes would be recommended for any extended outdoor time during chilly weather. Only use dog-safe salt and ice melt on your sidewalks and steps. Keep the fur on the underside of your dog’s paws trimmed short to reduce ice ball accumulation, and if your dog develops ice balls, soak their feet in room temperature water to remove the ice balls before applying paw pad balm.
Always make sure any balm that you are applying to your dog’s paws or nose is dog-friendly and non-toxic if ingested. That’s why we recommend THE BALM. And, if you’re ever unsure, just ask your friendly neighborhood veterinarian.