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How to clean dirty dog paws

How To Clean A Dog’s Paws After A Walk

Walking your dog keeps them healthy and fit (and is an excellent exercise for you too!), but whether they’re tromping through grass and leaves or sticking to the sidewalks, a dog’s paws get dirty, which is why it’s important to learn how to clean a dog’s paws after a walk.

There’s no doubt that dogs love a good walk through the great outdoors, even if the great outdoors is a trot through the city.

In this post, you’ll learn about good paw hygiene and the best ways to make sure your furry friend’s feet are in tip-top shape. 

How To Clean A Dog's Paws After A Walk

Now that you know why it’s important to keep your dog’s feet clean let’s talk about how to clean a dog’s paws after a walk.

There are various products you can use and ways to make sure your pet’s feet are clean.

Paw Cleaner Cup

The quickest and easiest way to clean a dog’s feet after a walk is by using a dog paw cleaner cup.

Simply place your pup’s feet in the paw cleaner cup, turn gently and dry with a towel. You can add a dog-friendly detergent if you like but in most cases, it isn’t necessary. 

Not only are they effortless to use, but portable for those times you aren’t at home, such as camping or days at the beach.

best way to clean dirty dog paws

Soap And Water

Whether it’s a full-on bath or a quick rinse, using mild soap and water is an easy and affordable way to clean your pup’s paws after a walk.

Wash the feet thoroughly of dirt, mud, and debris, especially between the pads and toes where particles can get stuck and lead to irritation. 

For a complete clean, scrub dirty areas with soap or dog shampoo and rinse away using lukewarm water. You can rinse your dog’s feet in a tray by the door or in the sink or tub using a sprayer.

The method you choose will depend on your dog’s size and how dirty the paws are. After rinsing, dry the paws with a clean towel. 

If it’s wintertime, make sure your dog’s feet are free of salt and chemicals by rinsing his or her paws in warm water after the walk.

This will help keep your dog’s paws from chapping, cracking, and accumulating blisters, all of which can lead to infection if not treated.


A dry towel is perfectly fine for cleaning your dog’s paws after a quick walk or playing in the yard.

If your dog’s feet are dry, you can use the towel to brush off any debris. If it’s a rainy day or your dog got wet playing at the park, you can use a towel to dry the feet and pad area.

Gently squeeze each foot with the towel to make sure they’re completely dry.

Wet Wipes

If bathing with soap and water isn’t feasible or if your dog’s paws are only a little dirty, a wet towelette can do the job.

These are great for on-the-go cleans and removing natural irritants like grass and pollen from your pup’s legs and feet.

Make sure you use a wipe that’s safe for pets. Wet wipes with ingredients like alcohol, petrochemicals, and perfumes can cause allergic reactions or sickness in your pet. The safest options are all-natural, vet-approved grooming wipes.

Alternatively, you can use a damp paper towel or washcloth (with or without a small amount of dog shampoo) to wipe away dirt and debris from your dog’s feet. 

Snow And Ice Remover

Speaking of winter, it’s essential to know how to clean a dog’s paws after a walk during the cold months, especially if your area is prone to snow, sleet, and ice.

Snow can turn into ice between the pads of your dog’s paws.

When this happens, your dog may try and pull the pieces out, which can lead to injury and hair loss, and it puts your dog at risk of consuming harmful chemicals like road salt and de-icer.

The American Kennel Club recommends soaking a cloth in warm water and massaging the paw gently to melt and loosen the ice particles.

How To Keep Your Dog’s Paws Clean

Keeping your dog’s feet clean is the simplest way to prevent health and hygiene problems. 

Tips for keeping your dog’s paws clean:

  • Trim the hair between your dog’s paw pads to prevent snowballs from forming.
  • Use a pet-safe moisturizer to prevent chapped and cracked paws.
  • Rub vet-approved balm on the dog’s feet to create a barrier against hot asphalt, sand, and ice. 
  • Have your dog wear booties when walking through rain or snow.
  • Trim fur around the foot to keep debris from clinging.
  • Make sure the nails are clean and trimmed

Should You Wash Your Dog’s Paws After A Walk?

The pads on the bottom of your dog’s feet provide cushioning for bones and joints, protect tissue deep within the paw, and help your pup walk over a variety of surfaces.

So it doesn’t hurt to get into a regular routine of paw cleaning and using a dog paw balm, especially after a walk. 

Here are a few reasons why you should clean your dog’s feet:


A common reason for allergies in dogs is from pollen. When your dog walks through pollen (on flowers or grass) it is absorbed into their system via the pads of their paws.

The pollen makes them itchy, causing them to nibble their feet, sometimes excessively, developing raw wounds and sores.


Your dog’s immune system is built to handle certain amounts of bacteria (and specific kinds), but that doesn’t mean you should neglect to check his or her paws after a walk or a romp in the yard. 

Although picking up bacteria isn’t always cause for alarm (Frito feet is a thing), it can lead to infection if your pooch has an open wound.

You can’t know for certain if your dog has a wounded paw or infection without an inspection, so it’s better to err on the safe side by giving them a quick clean after being outside. 


Aside from steering clear of infection, cleaning your dog’s paws regularly ensures that they don’t suffer wounds from small bits of debris like broken glass, splinters, thorns, pebbles, and the like. 

Make it a habit to inspect in and around your dog’s paws and between the toes. Parasites, like ticks, love to tuck themselves between the toes.

You can also scan for cuts and scrapes, chapped or cracked paw pads, and other sensitivities. 


Imagine walking around without shoes on for a day. Now imagine puttering around your house and crawling into bed without having cleaned them. Yuck! 

If you’re not cleaning your dog’s paws, you’re risking getting your home items dirty.

Blankets, rugs, pillows, couches, floors – just about anything you can think of can be stained, torn, and dirtied beyond belief when you let your dog have free rein with filthy paws.

Give those paws a quick clean after a walk, and you’ll save yourself time cleaning the house and money spent on ruined home goods.

Clean Paws For Good Health

It’s impossible to keep your dog’s feet completely clean, especially if you have an outside dog or one who enjoys multiple walks and puppy play dates at the park.

But for your dog’s sake, it’s better to do something than nothing at all. A quick clean can decrease the chance of allergies, infection, and bacterial buildup.

A clean dog is a happy dog, and a happy dog equals a happy owner!