The winter months can be hard on delicate doggie paws.
Snow and ice can cause cuts and abrasions, de-icing chemicals can irritate paw pads, and wind and cold temperatures can dry out your dog’s skin. Luckily, there’s an easy way to soothe painful puppy paws: homemade paw balm! It’s nontoxic, easy to make, and can even be given as a thoughtful gift to fellow dog owners. Plus, it smells delicious.
Gather the Ingredients
The ingredients: shea butter, beeswax, and either coconut or olive oil. Look for natural and organic versions if possible, and make sure that everything you use is human-grade. If you feel like getting fancy, you can add a few drops of essential oil (try lavender, peppermint, or tea tree oil) and/or Vitamin E oil, but they’re not required. You’ll also want a handful of small containers: small glass jars, a re-used breath mint tin, etc.
To melt the ingredients, you can use a double-boiler—or, since the beeswax may be hard to clean, you can mimic the double-boiling effect by placing a glass mason jar in a saucepan of water over very low heat. Combine 6 teaspoons of beeswax, 3 tablespoons shea butter, 3 tablespoons of oil (either coconut or olive), and any essential oils or Vitamin E. Stir the ingredients until the beeswax melts, then remove from heat. If you used a double-boiler, pour the melted mixture into individual tins and wait for it to set; if you used a jar, just want for it to cool, then screw on the lid. Viola!
How to Use the Balm
To use, massage into chapped paws whenever necessary. Most pets won’t lick off this mixture, but the beauty of a homemade balm is that it’s nontoxic and won’t be harmful if your dog ingests a small amount. If licking becomes a problem, try experimenting with adding a drop or two of different essential oils, or removing them altogether.
Pro tips: beeswax is a solid, and it can be difficult to cut/measure. To cut it at home, try heating a butcher’s knife under hot water, then slicing it into small chunks. If you can’t beeswax locally, look for it online—some stores sell it in beads, pre-measured blocks, or shavings, which are much easier to handle. If you’re interested in giving paw balm as a gift, try doubling or tripling the recipe. This balm can also be used if your dog’s nose gets dry and cracked in the winter, too.
Charlotte Austin is a Seattle-based writer and mountain guide. She has climbed, explored, and led expeditions in North and South America, Nepal, Europe, Alaska, and Patagonia. Her writing has been featured in Women's Adventure, Alpinist, Stay Wild, and other national and international publications. When she's not guiding in the Himalayas, she's exploring her hometown (Seattle, Washington), trying new recipes, and hanging out with Huckleberry, her giant black Great Dane-Lab mix. Read more about their adventures at www.charlotteaustin.com.