Best Paw Balm for Dogs

Paw balms should be nontoxic, easy to apply, and non-greasy for minimal mess. These products are used to soothe cracked, dry paws or to prevent the pads from becoming damaged.


Your dog’s paw pads act like the soles of our shoes, cushioning your dog’s stride and protecting her paws from damage. Weather conditions, strenuous activity, and some health conditions can all damage or strain your dog’s pads, making them unable to do their job effectively. Paw balm can help.

Does My Dog Need Paw Balm?

Palm balm for dogs is generally used for two purposes: softening an abnormally dry and hard pad or protecting the pads from conditions that could cause dryness and cracks. Most dogs do not need paw balms on a regular basis.

Dog paw balms are not a solution for cut pads or paw infections and they won’t protect your dog completely from extreme weather conditions. But they can provide an extra layer to help give the pads an extra boost so they can do their job.

Ice and Snow

Winter dries out dog paws just like it dries out our skin. Senior dogs in particular tend to get dry, cracked pads during the winter and may benefit from paw balm to soften the pads and keep them flexible (bonus—healthy, pliable pads will give your senior dog better grip and footing!).

For our younger, active dogs, playing outside in the winter exposes their paws to ice, snow, and ice melt products that can all dry out the pads. Balls of snow and ice may also become lodged between your dog’s toes, which is uncomfortable. Paw balms can be used to help keep the pads moist and soft, and also to prevent snow from sticking to the paws.

Hot Surfaces

Hot sidewalks and rocky paths can dry out your dog’s pads, especially if most of your dog’s walks are on hard surfaces. Paw balm can help to prevent the pads from developing cracks and will also provide a little protection from the heat.

To prevent burns to your dog’s paws during hot weather, encourage her to walk on grass when possible. Keep her moving when she is on hot surfaces so that her paws do not have sustained contact with the ground. If you have to spend a lot of time on hot surfaces, teach your dog to wear protective booties.

Rough Terrain

Many of our dogs love to run and play in natural areas, but rough ground can pose a threat to our pups’ paw pads. Running over hard surfaces can cause abrasions to the pads and gravel or other rough terrain can promote cracks and small cuts. Rocky terrain is the obvious one, but even packed dirt during a drought can be tough on paws.

If your dog is going to be running on hard ground for the first time in a while, or if you expect the terrain to be rough, you can apply paw balm to help keep the pads soft and resilient. Paw balms will also provide a little protection from some rough surfaces.


Hyperkeratosis is a condition where your dog’s body produces excess keratin. This usually occurs on the paw pads and/or nose. Keratin is what helps to make your dog’s pads so durable, but you can have too much of a good thing.

Dogs with hyperkeratosis look like they have hairy growths on their feet, but the “hairs” are thick and firm. These are rogue strands of keratin.

Some breeds, such as Bulldogs, Pugs, Boxers, Cocker Spaniels, and Labrador Retrievers, are predisposed to this condition, but it can affect any breed or mix. Hyperkeratosis can also be caused by an underlying immune condition or disease.

Once your dog has been checked out by a veterinarian to make sure she doesn’t have any underlying health conditions, you can use paw balm to soften the horny growths so that they will wear down as your dog exercises normally. In extreme cases, your veterinarian may remove some of the excess keratin and then have you apply paw balm to moisturize the paws afterward.

How to Apply Dog Paw Balm

Follow the instructions provided by your veterinarian or for your specific product when applying paw balm for dogs. That said, here are some general tips:

  • Warm firm balms in your hand to soften them, then apply a small amount at a time. Rub into the paw pad.
  • Less is more! The balm should be able to soak into the pad and not leave a thick layer of wet, sticky slime.
  • Cover the entire paw pad.
  • To prevent snow buildup, apply the balm between the toes too.
  • Apply paw balm before activities likely to dry out your dog’s paws as a preventive measure.
  • If you notice any cuts, sores, or irritation, stop using the product and contact your veterinarian.

Best Dog Paw Balms

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Here are some products we like:

  • Musher’s Secret has been around for quite a while and is a favorite with mushers and dog sport competitors. It absorbs quickly with no residue but helps to protect the paw from pretty much anything. It is also made with food-grade ingredients and is even safe to apply to dry noses.
  • Dermoscent BioBalm excels at repairing dry paw pads and helping to manage hyperkeratosis. It is made with organic ingredients and has little to no odor.
  • Pawmagik is a beeswax-based product used to protect the paws from ice and snow or heat. It also moisturizes dry pads to help prevent cracks. This product is made by Muttluks, a company also known for its wide range of dog boots to fit every paw protection need.
  • Bag Balm is a household name that works magic for many species—if it’s skin, and it’s dry, Bag Balm can help. Apply a little bit at a time to dry, cracked paws and let it soak in. If you accidentally put on too much, pop a baby sock or a bootie on your dog’s paw to prevent sticky pawprints throughout your house.

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Kate Basedow, LVT is a long-time dog enthusiast. She grew up training and showing dogs, and is active in a variety of dog sports. She earned her Bachelors Degree in English from Cornell University in 2013, and became a licensed veterinary technician in New York in 2017. She has been writing professionally about dogs for most of her life, and has earned multiple awards from the Dog Writers' Association of America. Kate currently has three dogs at home, as well as a cat, two zebra finches, and six ducks.