May issue

May issue
May issue

Friday, 3 February 2012

Muddy paws


Can anyone tell me how much I can wash a dog's feet? Is there such a thing as too much? Can too much washing and drying make them sore?

I have five large white furry dogs (Samoyeds) and live in an area of heavy clay. Since November our garden and most of the neighbourhood has turned to mud, so for several months now I've been having to wash the dogs' feet every time they come. Can this damage their feet? They have certainly come to hate the bucket!

When I wash I try not to make them too wet and to dry them off as much as possible afterwards. I've also trimmed the fur so there's less to get muddy - will this leave their pads too exposed and so more vulnerable? Not washing them is not an option - not only because of the mud in the house but also it forms hard gritty balls between their pads so they can't walk properly.

So am I washing them too much and if so, what can I do? Moisturising their feet would only give them something to lick off and enough doggy wellies for so many would cost a fortune. Any suggestions?

Steve Bass, by email


  1. Christine Bailey3 February 2012 at 07:50

    I think that trimming the hair on their paws as much as you can does help. Certainly dogs with more fur seem to gather more mud, and those balls that form between the pads must surely be painful. I pop my little dog in the sink after every muddy walk, she does accept this readily, and I don't think rinsing paws every day when it's this awful out will cause any problem. I don't use shampoo if she just has muddy paws, just plain water.
    Not as easy to pop larger dogs in the sink, though. I suggest a product called a paw plunger, which looks a bit like an overgrown beer tankard! You fill it with warm water, and plunge each paw in turn. Brushes help to clean, and it seems to be very gentle; none of mine have ever objected. My Airedale Ben used to gather a lot of mud in his paws, and I also found the paw plunger brilliant to remove the snow that compacted around his paws and between the pads.
    Unlike a bucket, there's no chance of spilling the contents, either! I think I just introduced it with treats, and it was readily accepted. My Border Collie, on the other hand, seems to be well adapted for wet and cold conditions; if he ever gets any mud on his feet, it's very quickly licked off - job done!

  2. After washing their paws, there is a product that might help its called Shaws Paw Wax, it says for all year round protection.
    Helps prevent damage from gravel, asphalt, ice, snow, roads treated with salt and all hard surfaces, it does not mention clay, you can rub paw directly on the wax or a thin smear to pads.
    Use sparingly for anti-slip on smooth or slippery surfaces.
    I got mine from Pets at Home.
    It might be worth a try.

  3. Hi Steve

    A good solution is to have a cat litter tray outside the door for the dogs to walk through - it is easier than a bucket if you get a big enough tray (or trays - one for each paw perhaps!).

    In the garden you might want to get a dog fence around a patio area to spare your grass in wet weather. I got on built really cheaply using half-round timber, and it looks like a balustrade to edge decking - it's really pretty. It's also easier to wash down the patio during winter too.

    You can also get a product called Paw Rub by Collarways which is excellent for sore paws and my dogs enjoy the foot massage. It makes my hands soft, too!

    My final tip for this, which may or may not help as I know you have a lot of dogs, is to line a large crate with towels and let the dogs through it one by one as they enter. Place it across the doorway like a corridor, with treats inside to encourage the dogs.The rougher the towel, the more mud that comes off. It works really well for the Retriever that I care for. He stays in there until all the mud is rubbed off and by the time he has finished his treat ball, he is dry as well.

    Hope these ideas help!


  4. Olwen Turns MAPDT -

    All the above is great advice, I groom as well as being a trainer. Washing your dog's feet in either plain water or a quality dog shampoo will not do your dog any harm. Make sure you rinse off any shampoo throughly. Road salt is harmful to dogs if they lick it off their feet so it is important that this is rinsed off well. It doesn't harm the dog if you cut the hair between the pads, it can help to stop the dog getting sore paws as dirt can stick to the hair, causing rubbing.

    If you are regularly walking in a very muddy area it might be worth investing in some good paw boots. It is also possible to get a paw cleaner that looks like a large mug with bristles inside which you can use to clean your dog's feet. It's called a pawplunger. Betty and Butch do a nice natural dog paw balm as do Nurtured Pets