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

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Yes, cleaning a pet's paws regularly and keeping their paws clean has advantages.‌ When you go on a potty walk with your dog, they can track in some nasty things from the outdoors that can be harmful not only to them but to you as well. No one benefits from dirty paws. Consider cleaning your dog's paws each time you come in from a walk. You're protecting your dog as well as yourself and your family when you are vigilant about cleaning their paws after a walk or whenever they come in from the outdoors.

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For one, you won't have the hassle of having to clean up muddy or wet paw prints off the floor or furniture after every walk. There are other advantages to wiping your dog's paws after a walk too. While there aren't specific guidelines, here are some reasons why a dog owner should inspect their dog's feet. Look for:

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  • Any signs of limping or pain
  • Excessive licking
  • Excessive chewing
  • Any obvious swelling
  • Bleeding that is visible
  • Any blisters, cuts, or scrapes on your pup's paws
  • If it seems like your dog is in pain

    For pain or injuries, reach out to your veterinarian to ask them what to do. If there's a serious issue, you might need to take your dog into the clinic for treatment.

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Cleaning dog paws for their health

It's a good idea to clean up a dog's paws after a walk for a number of reasons, including weather hazards. For instance, if you want to go about protecting your dog in cold, snowy weather, you'll need to clean their dirty paws after a walk. If your dog steps on snow or walks outside when it's freezing, their paw pads can crack and become numb or feel painful. If this happens, applying a gentle balm to moisturize their paws can help. Additionally, if dogs get salt in their paws, it might burn. You'll also potentially have salt stains on your floors or wet floors from the snow.

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When it's warm outside, hot sidewalks, paths, and sand may burn your dog's feet, and cleaning dog paws after a walk using warm water or grooming wipes to remove 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 their muddy paws is a good way of protecting your dog.

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If you walk your dog in a wooded or meadowy area, ticks or other parasites, or bristles from plants can be hiding in your dog's paws, so cleaning dirty paws after a walk will help eliminate any problems those pests can cause. You might also notice cysts, blisters, or cuts and scrapes if you're paying attention to your dog's feet and especially the paw pads, and you'll be able to get them the proper treatment for these issues before they become worse.

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Another reason to check your dog's paw pads is to check the health of your dog's nails. Your dog's nails could be too long and need to be clipped. Or a nail may have snagged on something.

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Cleaning dog paws for your health

While you love your pup, you don't love everything they can drag into the house on their dirty paws. You can keep your house clean by using grooming wipes, a microfiber towel and warm water to wipe down your dog's paws after a walk. Keep the supplies next to your doormat so that when you wipe off your own shoes, you can wipe off your dog's feet too. Then, you won't get any mud, dirt, dust, or other debris on your floors and carpets.

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Additionally, your furry friend can carry bits of poop or gross pests as well as bacteria on their feet and paw pads, which is not ideal for you and your family. Cleaning your dog's paws after a walk will help you stay healthy too.

How to clean dog paws

There are a number of different ways to keep your dog's paws clean and ensure you're protecting your pooch. The easiest method is to clean their paws with dog-safe grooming wipes. There are also portable paw washers, such as the Dexas Mudbuster, that use silicone bristles to remove dirt and debris from your dog's paws.

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Alternatively, you could keep a microfiber dusting mitt by the door to dry paws with. You can also use a warm, soapy washcloth to clean them or give their feet a quick rinse in the bathtub or sink with warm water and dog paw cleaner or shampoo. When you do decide to give them a full bath, only use dog shampoo because regular human shampoo has a different pH level than dogs require.

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

Dog booties and paw pad wax

If your dog will wear them, try putting dog booties on them. Booties are going to protect them in cold weather, and you can simply remove them when you're on your doorstep instead of cleaning the paws. Finding the ideal booties to fit your dog's paws can be challenging, though. If your pooch won't wear them, there are a number of alternatives to dog boots that can protect their feet.

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If dog boots don't work for your dog, protective dog paw wax can help protect dog paws and paw pads from both dirt and cold. Note that dog paws are particularly tolerant to cold. However, salt and chemicals used on roads can damage paw pads. Dog paw wax provides a protective barrier between paw pads and the elements.

The best dog paw wax is usually easy to apply and lasts about half an hour on the average walk. Fortunately, most brands come in compact portable containers, so reapplication to your pet's paws is quick and easy.

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 their dirty paws before they get inside. You can also enter your house through the mudroom (if you have one) so they can get their paws clean there before going into the main part of your home. You could consider installing a dog paw washer, which many retailers sell. If it's summertime, keep your hose within easy reach so you can clean your dog's feet outside before they enter your house.

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