Why it’s important to clean your dog’s paws

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As any dog owner knows, our pups are a magnet for muck. They’ve barely looked at that puddle of rainwater, or that massive mound of mud, before they’re completely caked in it. While it’s true that mucky paws and pristine carpets don’t go hand in hand, it’s important to always clean your dog’s paws after they’ve frolicked in the mud for a variety of health reasons. Including cleaning your pup’s paws in their grooming routine can help prevent everything from parasites to problems with their joints.  

Let’s take a closer look at why hygiene is a high priority when it comes to those wet and dirty paws…

The benefits of cleaning and drying your dog’s paws

Preventing and detecting infection

Golden Retriever in muddy puddle

By cleaning your dog’s paws properly after a walk, you’re removing bacteria and germs that will otherwise sit around and pose a risk for infection if your dog gets a cut or a scrape. Although their paws are hard-wearing and designed to deal with a degree of bacteria, it’s always better to err on the side of caution and keep foreign bodies to a minimum.

Giving your dog’s paws some attention will also help identify any cuts or scrapes they might have picked up along the way, so you can treat the wound and evaluate the damage – we recommend getting your dog checked out by a veterinary professional if it’s a more serious injury.

Lastly, don’t forget to look out for things getting lodged in their paws – there are no end of crevices and folds in which gravel or glass, for instance, can get wedged. Those paws provide vital padding to shock-proof their bones and joints, so it’s important to give them a bit of TLC.

Spotting any unwanted guests

Ticks and other parasites can hide between your dog’s toes, and unless you’re paying close attention by regularly cleaning them, they can go unnoticed and cause real problems. As always, if you spot a tick make sure you use a proper tick-removal tool to remove it. Grasp the tick, don’t squash it, and pull it straight out without twisting. For more info about how to remove ticks from your dog, check out this blogpost.

It’s more comfortable for your dog

Particularly if they’ve been walking around in wet weather, your dog is going to come home with soggy toes. By gently cleaning and drying them fully, you’ll prevent them from getting cracked and dried out – both of which can leave their paws more susceptible to injury. Likewise, walking in snow and salt from gritted paths can leave your pup’s paws in need of some attention, so a regular wash can help to restore the natural equilibrium down there.

It promotes overall wellness

We all know how good a bit of pampering makes us feel, right? And the same goes for your pooch. Having a regular routine is a great way to bond with your dog, and you can factor in time to give their nails a trim and their coat a good brush. Quite the top-to-toe treatment.

It’s more hygienic for your home

Your dog can’t pull on a pair of wellies or lace up their winter boots when they head out, so their paws bring home whatever they step into on their travels. Just like you remove your outdoor shoes when you get in, their paws need a clean to keep your space hygienic. That’s especially true if you have young children or crawling babies. Besides washing and drying their paws, you could use a dog-friendly door mat to help stop that dirt from getting in.

How to clean your dog’s paws

Puppy wrapped in a towel

Cleaning your dog’s paws should be done routinely, but the frequency will depend on how dirty your pup gets when they’re out and about. You’ll definitely want to check their paws for debris every week. But when it comes to washing them, it could be anything from daily to biweekly depending on what works for you and your dog. As for how best to clean them, you’ve got plenty of options here.

Soapy water

That’s right – good old soap and water for the win. Have a bowl of warm water and soap ready, and give those paws a good clean. The emphasis here is on warm water – not too hot or freezing cold. And keep any soap or shampoo mild and to a minimum, and look for specific dog-friendly products if you can. If your furry friend is regularly out in the back garden playing in mud, you could even set up a little washing station by the back door. Just don’t forget to dry them when you’re done.

A towel

It’s not always possible to have a full-on cleaning station set up 24/7, so a towel is a handy option to have with you when you’re out and about. You may not get them totally clean this way, and they’ll still need a proper wash eventually, but you’ll be able to rub off the bulk of the dirt and check their paws while you’re at it. A towel doubles up as something to dry them with, too, so it’s a great option when you’re out and about in the car and don’t want your pet messing up the upholstery.

A doormat

Consider investing in a doggie doormat if you want a quick and easy way for them to lose some of that dirt when they enter the house. You can get away with any type of mat with an abrasive surface to loosen the mud, although the bigger you go, the better your chances of getting those paws clean. This option doesn’t replace a proper wash, but it will help massively between cleans – with minimal effort on your part.

Doggie wet wipes

Grooming wipes for dogs make cleaning on the go nice and easy, so they’re ideal if you’re out and about and don’t have a towel to hand. Wet wipes for dogs tend to be bigger and hardier than those designed for humans, although you could get away with using unscented, sensitive baby wipes if that’s what you have to hand – just make sure they don’t irritate your dog’s skin.

A microfibre mitten

There are special mitts on the market designed specifically for the purpose of cleaning your dog’s paws. They usually have lots of microfibers on the surface, which help to clean in those hard-to-reach places, and they’re often super absorbent so they dry at the same time. Again, they won’t replace a proper wash in soapy water – but they’re really handy in between cleans. 

Paws for thought

Cleaning your dog’s paws will always be on the agenda – it’s part and parcel of life with a four-legged friend. But by understanding the benefits to their health and wellbeing, along with knowing a few tricks of the trade when it comes to washing those little mitts, you can make sure it’s a cute bonding opportunity – not a cleaning chore.

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