Should I Clean My Dog's Paws After a Walk?

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When you go on a walk with your dog, he can track some pretty nasty things in from the outside that can be harmful not only to him, but to you as well.

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While there aren't specific guidelines for how often you should clean your dog's paw pads, you may want to consider cleaning his paws when you come in from a walk with him. You're protecting your dog—as well as yourself and your family—when you are vigilant about cleaning his paws after a walk or whenever he comes in from the outside.


Cleaning a dog’s paws for their health

It's a good idea to clean a dogs' paws after a walk for a number of reasons, the first being weather hazards. For instance, if you want to go about protecting your dog when there is cold, snowy weather outside, you'll need to clean his paws after a walk. If your dog steps on snow or walks outside when it's freezing, his paws may crack and become numb or feel painful. Additionally, if he gets salt in his paws, they may burn. You'll also potentially have salt stains on your floors or wet floors from the snow.


When it's warm outside, hot sidewalks, paths, and sand may burn your dog's feet, and cleaning them up after a walk and ridding of any debris is going to help them heal. If it's rainy, your dog's paws will get very moist and could become sensitive and wrinkled, so cleaning and then drying his paws will be the best way of protecting your dog.


If you walk your dog in a wooded or meadowy area, ticks or other parasites may be hiding in your dog's paws, so cleaning them after a walk will be sure to eliminate any problems those pests can cause. You may also notice cysts or cuts and scrapes if you're paying attention to your dog's feet, and you'll be able to get him the proper treatment for these issues.


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Cleaning your dog’s paws for your own health

While you love your pup, you don't love everything he can drag into the house on his paws. You can keep your house clean by wiping down your dog's paws after a walk. Then, you won't get any mud, dirt, dust, or any other debris on your floors and carpets.


Additionally, dogs can carry those gross pests as well as bacteria on their feet, which are not ideal for you and your family. Cleaning your dogs' paws after a walk will ensure that you stay healthy too.

How to keep your dog’s paws clean

There are a number of different ways to keep your dog's paws clean and ensure you're protecting your dog.


The easiest method is to clean his paws with baby wipes or other wipes that are safe for pups. You can also use a warm soapy washcloth to clean him, or give his feet a quick rinse in the bathtub or sink once he comes inside. When you do decide to give him a full bath, only use dog shampoo or Dr. Bronner's, as regular human shampoo is bad for dogs.


When you're cleaning your dog's feet, especially after he goes out into the ice or snow, make sure you check between his toes for snow, salt, or other types of debris. If you do find any ice balls in the paws, clean them with a warm washcloth and massage them to get rid of any ice. Be very gentle, as this can be painful for your pup. And if your dog has hairy paws, ask the groomer to cut the hair so that it's less susceptible to snow, ice and other debris.


If your dog will wear them, try putting dog booties on him. Booties are going to protect him in cold weather, and you can simply remove them when you're on your doorstep instead of cleaning his paws. If your dog won't wear them, there are a number of alternatives to booties that can protect their feet.

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Keeping your house clean

Some ways to keep your own house clean, aside from wiping your dog's paws, are to have a welcome mat by the door where your dog can wipe his feet before he gets inside. You can also enter your house through the mudroom (if you have one) so he can get clean there before going into the main part of your home. If it's summertime, keep your hose within easy reach so you can clean your dog's feet outside.


There aren't specific guidelines for how often to clean your dog's paw pads. However, ensuring your dog's feet are clean is not only good for his health and yours, but it keeps your home clean as well. If you notice any cuts or scrapes on his paws or it seems like your dog is in pain, reach out to your veterinarian to ask them what to do. If there's a serious issue, you may need to take him in for treatment. Being on top of your dog's wellbeing by inspecting his paws frequently is going to help him have a happy, comfortable, and healthy life.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.