May 27, 2021

Cleaning Dog's Paws –
10 Best Ways to Clean Your Dog's Paws After a Walk

If you have ever arrived home from a long walk with your dog through rain, soil, sand, mud, and dirt, you know what the problem is. Your dog's paws are dirty, and you need to get them clean before they dash inside, leaving muddy paw prints all over your rugs and carpets.

Because your dog's paws are furry, they pick up a lot of dirt even if they have been trimmed, or you're just taking a walk on the pavement.

The dirt not only soils your floors, carpets, and possibly even furniture, it also stains your pet's fur on the paws and can become a health issue if the feet aren't kept clean.

muddy and dirty dog

So how do you clean your dog's paws after a walk to keep your pet happy and healthy and your home dirt-free? Let's find out everything you need to know about cleaning dog paws.

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    Should you wash your dogs paws after a walk?

    Cleaning your dog's paws after a walk is necessary for two reasons: to keep your home clean and to keep your pet healthy.

    If you think about it, wouldn't you clean your own feet when coming home after walking barefoot in wet, muddy, and dirty terrain?

    To put it simply, paws pick up a lot of grime, dirt, and germs wherever your dog goes, becoming the dirtiest part of your dog's body.

    Canines have sensitive paws that are exposed to things like walking on hot asphalt, lawns treated with harsh chemicals, and salt used to melt ice on streets. Those little paws also walk on all kinds of terrain, from sharp gravel to ice and snow.

    muddy dog paws after a walk

    Outdoor playtime is definitely mood-enhancing and good for your pooch's health, but sometimes burns, irritation, dry skin, or cuts occur, and it's important to take care of those paws to prevent infections and other problems.

    To put it simply, paws pick up a lot of grime, dirt, and germs wherever your dog goes, becoming the dirtiest part of your dog's body. Therefore, cleaning a dog's paws after a walk becomes a necessity and should be part of your routine.

    Another problem is the tidiness of your home. The dirt and mud that collects on your furry friend's paws are brought inside, staining your carpets, rugs, floors, and everything your dog lands its paws on before they are cleaned.

    Also, it's not just about the visible dirt and keeping your hallway looking clean. Dogs can step on all kinds of stuff, including feces and urine of other dogs and pieces of trash. All the potential bacteria are brought inside in their paws and spread around your home. Not something that you would call hygienic.

    To your good luck, we will provide you with a list of easy cleaning solutions with each and every possible method, including various home remedies to help you disinfect paws, treat cracked paw pads, and keep them paw-fect!

    And while taking care of your pet, you will be taking care of your home as well!

    Cleaning Dogs Paws –
    10 Best Ways to Clean Your Dog's Paws After A Walk

    Now, this is where we whip out those tips and solutions for keeping your canine's feet (and your home) clean.

    Depending on the climate, weather, and environment where you live, you might need to clean your pup's paws after every walk or just maybe once a week. Either way, you'll want the easiest ways to do it.

    Also, you should routinely check your dog's paws, and after a walk is the perfect time to both clean them and have a look to see if you can spot any issues like wounds, cracks, or inflammation.

    Ticks, pieces of glass, thorns, and other sharp objects can also be hiding between the toes and can cause infections if not removed and treated.

    Here we have rounded up several dog paw cleaning solutions to use after a walk. With this, you'll be able to answer the question of how to clean a dog's paws after a walk?

    1. Wash Dog Paws

    wash dog paws

    Yes, washing your dog's paws is, of course, the first and foremost way of keeping your pooch's feet clean.

    Washing your dog's paws is the first and foremost way of keeping your pooch's feet clean.

    Although drying the paws quickly with a towel may be enough when it comes to just water, snow, or ice, there are times when there is no way around than to rinse your dog's paws with mild soap and lukewarm water. And if the walk has included muddy puddles and much more, it may need to be a shower or bath for the whole dog.

    Use the bathroom 

    One option is to carry your dog to the bathroom, put them down in the bathtub or shower, and wash the feet with dog shampoo before rinsing and drying.

    It's not fast, and you may get wet in the process, but at least you'll know the paws are thoroughly clean before letting your dog run off into the living room.

    DIY Dog paw cleaning station 

    Another slightly quicker way is to have a small bowl of water and a towel ready in the hallway.

    When you come back inside from a walk, dip your dog's feet one by one in the water and dry them off with the towel. This method will remove most of the dirt and mud, although it's not quite as effective as using dog shampoo.

    2. Try a Paw washer

    dog paw washer

    Thirdly, you can use a paw washer! It's a paw-sized cup you fill with water and use to rinse your pet's feet one by one. It's designed to prevent water from being spilled on the floor and for loosening soil, sand, and mud from the fur.

    Our favorite is the Dexas MudBuster that comes in three sizes. You just insert the paw and twist, and the soft silicone bristles gently remove the dirt and mud. Then dry the feet with a towel, and your dog's good to go.

    Pro Tip:

    A paw washer is a step more convenient and mess-free than taking your pup to the bath or using a bowl of water. So if you're in a hurry in the morning, it's an excellent way to save time, keep yourself dry, and ensure clean paws for your dog.

    3. Wipe dog’s paws – use baby wipes for quick cleaning

    Another quick and mess-free solution is baby wipes.

    Wipes contain vitamin E, well known for various skin benefits.

    They are an excellent way to wipe away any sort of dirt or grime as they hold just the right amount of moisture. You don't have to get out a container of water that might spill on your hallway carpet, but you have enough water in those sheets to loosen and remove dirt.

    Wipes contain vitamin E, well known for various skin benefits, and are a great handy, easy to carry, and quick cleanup option for your dog.

    Baby wipes will work perfectly for cleaning the dog's paws, bum or coat, so they are something you should always have at hand. You never know what your dog gets up to when you're taking him outside, but with baby wipes ready, you'll be prepared for a quick cleanup.

    If you're particular about using dog-specific wipes, then the most recommended option would be the Earth Rated Dog Wipes which are plant-based and compostable wipes for dogs.

    4. Try a dog paw mitten

    Instead of a towel, you can also opt for a highly absorbent chenille towel mitt like this Clean Paws Mitt from Ethical Pets. The microfiber material absorbs moisture and attracts dirt, so it's an effortless way of drying your pup's feet after a walk in the rain.

    You can keep the mitt within arms reach and quickly dry each foot before letting your dog sprint out of the hallway and onto the family couch.

    When the mitt is dirty, you just throw it in the washer, and it's good as new.

    5. Paw cleaning mat - Use a Doormat for Muddy Paws

    doormat for muddy paws

    Doormats are a great way to make sure most of the dirt and mud stay in your hallway.

    There are extra soft and absorbent doormats, which are the best choice for homes with pets.

    By placing a doormat in your entryway, you can teach your dog to sit on the mat and wait until you're finished with cleaning the paws. Also, since your dog steps on the doormat first thing when entering your home, it will absorb at least some of the moisture and dirt from the paws.

    There are extra soft and absorbent doormats, which are the best choice for this purpose. Also, make sure the doormat is big enough so your dog can sit or stand on it comfortably.

    High-quality Gorilla Grip doormats are the perfect choice for pet homes. You can opt for a softer and highly absorbent indoor mat like this Gorilla Grip Chenille Doormat or a heavy-duty outdoor mat like the Gorilla Grip Original Rubber Doormat.

    Pro Tip:

    You can even teach your dog to wipe his feet by himself! Simply do this by placing a few enticing treats under the doormat. You can also reward desired scratching on the mat with the treats in your hand and end the process by simply adding a verbal marker such as "wipe."

    6. Cleaning Tablets for Dog Paws

    muddy paws on carpet

    Cleaning tablets are another way of keeping your dog's paws clean and healthy.

    The tablets dissolve in water and form a solution that cleanses, moisturizes, and soothes your pup's feet. It will help remove irritants that cause your dog to lick its paws excessively. You can use these tables while bathing your dog or when you come in from a walk and use a water bowl or a paw washer to clean the feet.

    You can simply take one ball or tablet, let it dissolve in warm water, put your dog's paws into the cleaning solution and let them soak for 5 minutes. Warren London Deep Cleaning Paw Fizz tablets are a good option to rely upon.

    7. Dog Boots – to keep dog paws clean

    keep dog paws clean

    It's always said prevention is better than the cure. Sticking to the phrase, you can clearly understand dog boots are not a cleaning method, but they surely can be a great way to prevent your dog's paws from getting dirty in the first place.

    Boots can be an ideal choice if you're in a hurry and you know you're not going to have time to wash your dog's paws, but you don't want them running inside and leaving muddy paw prints either. Just pull off the boots when you come back inside, and you don't have to worry about mud on your carpets.

    Not only do boots prevent your dog's paws from getting dirty, but they also protect your dog from hot weather as well as freezing temperatures. Searing asphalt or sharp ice can easily injure your pup's paws, so boots are not just a way of keeping those dog feet dirt-free but a way of protecting them too.

    8. Cleaning Dog Paws With Vinegar

    Vinegar is a good home remedy for cleaning smelly paws caused by yeast infections and bacteria build-up. White vinegar and apple cider vinegar can turn out to be an effective option and help you keep your dog's paws clean.

    Similar to those easy-to-use cleaning tablets we mentioned earlier, you will need to prepare a mixture of 1:1 ratios of water and vinegar and let your dog's paws soak in it for a couple of minutes. Due to its anti-fungal properties, vinegar will let you get rid of your dog's smelly feet by making them inhospitable to bacteria.

    Adding vinegar to the water will relieve itchiness and help prevent the licking of irritated paws.

    9. DIY Dog paw cleaning solution

    The easiest DIY for a simple paw cleaning session requires a combination of equal parts of water and vinegar filled into a spray bottle. You can use this as a remedy to treat your dog's cracked and inflamed paws as well.

    Another DIY solution for dirty paws is an oatmeal massage. Simply get some oatmeal mixed in the water in your bathtub and gently massage the oatmeal into your dog's paws and let them soak for at least 10 minutes. You can also add a few teaspoons of olive or coconut oil to the mixture.

    10. Try Coconut oil for dogs paws

    Try Coconut oil for dogs paws

    Using coconut oil when cleaning dog paws can be effective if you're fighting infections and bacteria.

    Coconut oil is well known for its antimicrobial, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and antibacterial properties.

    Coconut oil is well known for its antimicrobial, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and antibacterial properties. Furthermore, coconut oil promotes the healing of wounds and soothes cracked dog paws.

    You just need to try to keep your dog from licking his paws as much as you can because coconut oil is just so tasty to them. Although you actually won't need to worry about any ingestion as coconut oil is extremely beneficial for your dog's overall health.

    Can I wash my dog’s paws every day?

    muddy paws tracks dirt on white floor

    Yes, you can wash your dog’s paws every day. Often dog owners are not sure of how often they should clean their dog's paws. They may have heard that you shouldn't bathe your dog too frequently and may be wondering if the same applies to washing the paws.

    In the end, it's better to wash the paws than to leave them dirty because the dirt may irritate your dog's skin and can lead to health issues.

    How often you should wash your dog's paws depends on how often your dog takes walks, what the environment is like, and how dirty they are after the walk.

    If it's been raining and you took your dog to a park or beach with mud, wet soil, and sand, you should wash the feet carefully. Things like sand and gravel may get stuck between the toes, causing irritation.

    Even if you took a walk on the pavement, but it was raining, you should still at least dry the paws. Moisture that is trapped between the toes can cause infections.

    Even if the dog is not dirty, you should still wash the paws thoroughly, at least when cutting your dog's nails or during the monthly bath, and check there are no cuts or abrasions between the paw pads or toes.

    In the end, it's better to wash the paws than to leave them dirty because the dirt may irritate your dog's skin and can lead to health issues.

    Pro Tip:

    Trimming the hair around paw pads and on the feet will help you keep the paws clean, prevent matting, and to spot thorns, pieces of glass, or ticks.

    How To Clean a Dog's Paws Before Coming Inside?

    You can clean your dog's paws before coming inside – which is actually ideal if you want to keep your home clean.

    clean a dog's paws before coming inside

    1. Use your garden hose

    If you have a driveway and a garden hose, you can shower your dog and dry him off with a towel before you come inside.

    2. DIY paw cleaning station outside your door

    You can also place a doormat, shallow container of water, and a towel outside your door and use them to clean the paws before you enter. Teach your dog to stand on the doormat while you clean his paws and dry them thoroughly before you let your pooch inside.

    3. Use a paw washer

    A paw washer is also something you can use before coming inside. Some of these washers even come with a cap, so you can fill them with water and leave them outside your door or carry it with you.

    A small towel and a paw plunger are something you can even carry in your pocket or bag if you're going somewhere where you want to clean your dog's paws before they go inside.

    4. Clean with baby wipes

    Last but not least, a pack of baby wipes also fits your pocket and provides a quick way of removing dirt from your dog's feet before entering.


    How dirty are dog's paws?

    Dog's paws can drag germs and bacteria into your home. Of course, since you never know where your dog stepped and if it was something unhygienic. Dogs love all kinds of unsanitary stuff like feces and trash. Therefore, there is always the possibility that in their feet, they carry pathogens from whatever they have been pawing at.

    Homes with pets have higher bacteria populations, including bacteria like E.coli, MRSA, salmonella, and listeria.

    A study by the North Carolina University [1.] actually showed that homes with pets have higher bacteria populations, including bacteria like E.coli, MRSA, salmonella, and listeria.

    You can prevent some of these bacteria from entering your home by cleaning your dog's paws. However, you shouldn't be too worried, as many of the bacteria are actually beneficial for you, and dog paws are no germier than your shoes.

    Can you teach your dog to wipe his feet?

    Yes, you can teach your dog to wipe his feet. All you need is a soft and absorbent doormat and some treats. Place the treats under the mat, and when your dog scratches it to get to the goodies, reward him with a treat. You can also add a verbal cue like wipe.

    Little by little, your dog will start to associate the word with "wiping" his feet on the doormat.

    What can I clean my dog's paws with?

    You have several options for cleaning your dog's paws. Firstly, you can rinse them with water in the bath or shower and use some dog shampoo to make sure all the dirt comes off. Or, if you're in a hurry, you can just use a small container for water or a paw washer. For an even quicker and easier solution for cleaning your dog's paws, you can use baby wipes or a microfiber dog paw cleaning mitten.

    Remember that you should never use human shampoo when washing your dog. If you don't have dog shampoo, mild baby shampoo can do. Vinegar mixed with water can also help you keep your dog's paws clean and soothe the skin.

    Should you wipe your dog's paws?

    Yes, you should either wipe or wash your dog's paws to clean them after a walk. Not only will wiping your dog's feet protect your home from dirt and bacteria dogs' paws carry, but it is also a way to make sure your dog hasn't stepped in something harmful or unhygienic.

    If any irritants like sand, gravel, splinters are left between the toes or paw pads, they could cause abrasions, cuts, and even infections.

    Can I clean my dog's paws with vinegar?

    Yes, you can clean your dog's paws with vinegar. Mix equal parts of water and vinegar and use the solution to soak your canine's feet. Using vinegar will clean dog paws that have been irritated by excessive licking or infected by bacteria.

    Because vinegar is acidic, it will help balance the pH of your dog's skin and calm inflammations. It also works as an antiseptic and helps deal with infections due to its antibacterial properties.

    How do I stop my dog's paws from being muddy?

    If you want to stop your dog's paws completely from getting muddy, then using dog boots is the only sure proof way of not getting mud on them. Of course, you can always try to avoid muddy areas, but dog boots are the only sensible solution if that's not an option.

    Should you wash your dog's paws after a walk?

    If your dog has been walking in terrain with mud, dirt, sand, or other such dirt, it's best to wash the paws after the walk. Not only will the dirt soil your home if not removed by washing, but it can also irritate your dog's feet, causing excessive licking, abrasions, rash, or even infections. Sand, for example, is not easily removed with a dry towel or baby wipes, so it needs to be rinsed with water. Otherwise, it can cause irritation between the toes and paw pads.

    Salt is something to keep in mind as well. If you live in an area where salt is used to melt ice from the pavement, washing your dog's paws after each walk is important during the winter. Salt is very irritating and can cause health concerns like cracked paw pads and chemical burns.

    How do you keep your dog's paws from getting dirty?

    If you want to prevent your dog's paws from getting dirty and keep them completely clean, then you should use dog boots on your dog. Without boots, there is always dirt your dog can step on, even if you're walking on dry pavement. When using dog boots, you can just take them off when you come back from a walk, and rest assured those paws are clean.

    Summing up – How To Clean Dogs Paws

    Cleaning your dog's paws after a walk is important not only to keep your home clean and to prevent those muddy paw prints on carpets and the couch but also to make sure your pet's paws stay intact and healthy.

    After a walk on wet pavement, you may only need to wipe those feet clean with a towel.

    However, if you've been walking in mud, gravel, sand, or other rougher terrain, cleaning the paws is vital for removing anything that may injure or bother your dog. Washing off anything that could break or irritate the delicate skin on the toes or paw pads is essential.

    We have shared 10 ways to keep your dog's paws clean, and we hope you find them useful. It's a problem many dog owners deal with every day, but luckily there are solutions available to help you keep your home clean and dog happy.

    Matt Clayton
    Matt Clayton
    Chief Editor & Founder of PetHairPatrol

    Matt is the founder of and has years of experience helping pet owners keep their homes clean. He's been featured in publications like Reader's Digest, Money, and BestLifeOnline. When this neat freak is not searching for better ways to get rid of pet hair, dander, and other messes pets leave behind, he's usually enjoying outdoors with his two (hairy) Goldens: Ben and Jerry. Read more.

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