An icy sidewalk, concrete sprinkled with a deicing agent or a blistering hot pathway all can be torture on your dog's paws. Some canines won't cooperate with slip-on booties or shoes designed to protect paw pads, and some pups' paws are just too small or big for a comfortable fit. An all-natural balm massaged onto the pad of your dog's paw can help soothe the situation.
When the elements make it uncomfortable for your dog to even go for a walk, protective wax acts as a barrier between the offending surface and your dog's paws. This can be cold or hot surfaces, or even uncomfortable grainy or rocky surfaces such as a romp on the beach.
Waxes also can include beneficial ingredients such as vitamin E, which moisturizes the skin while adding an extra layer of protection.
If your dog is sensitive to the cold weather, a wax layer on the paws won't keep her entire foot protected from the biting cold and ill effects such as painfully dry skin.
If you're not keen on whipping up a preparation in your kitchen, store-bought salves can do the trick. Look for products with natural ingredients and manufacturers who can ensure that the product is safe if accidentally ingested by your dog.
Musher's Secret, for example, which is a paw wax made in Canada and sold at various retail outlets in the United States, states that the product won't harm pets but could have a "mild laxative effect" if swallowed.
Do It Yourself
The naturalist site Frugally Sustainable offers an easy recipe for a nourishing paw wax.
Things you will need
- 2 tablespoons olive, sunflower or almond oil
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- 1 tablespoon shea butter
- 4 teaspoons beeswax
Other suggestions are even simpler, such as just rubbing coconut oil into paws or melting equal parts beeswax and olive oil together.
Stir the ingredients together well as they melt over low heat. Pour the finished product into a lip balm tin or airtight container and let it cool before storing.
Do not use toxic substances in a paw wax, as dogs can lick their paws and ingest the goo.
If you're going to be spending much of the day out in the elements, bring a tin of paw wax for touch-ups. The wax doesn't work as well if you're dealing with wet, slushy surfaces, so consider dog booties in these conditions.
Wash paws with warm water or wet wipes after each use, and be sure to check between the toes while rinsing for pieces of stuck debris such as sidewalk salt. For an extra moisturizer after your dog has been walking on rough conditions, the ASPCA recommends rubbing in a bit of petroleum jelly.
When your dog walks outdoors, he can bring substances indoors on the wax. Check paws at the front door to avoid ice melt, grit and other debris from being tracked through your home.