Search Menu

AKC is a participant in affiliate advertising programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to If you purchase a product through this article, we may receive a portion of the sale.

Whether it’s raining, snowing, or just plain dirty out, nothing will stop your dog from wanting to frolic outdoors. This means you need to be prepared to clean off whatever your pup picks up on their paws before it comes back inside with them, or worse, causes them harm.

Dog Booties

One of the easiest ways to protect your dog’s paws from the elements is investing in a pair of dog booties. Northern breeds like Siberian Huskies wear dog boots while mushing on the trail to protect their feet from ice and snow, and they can keep your dog’s paws safe too.

It may take a little time for your dog to get used to wearing dog booties, but with patience and rewards, most dogs adapt just fine.

Border Collie wearing blue dog boots laying down on pavement

Dog Wipes

Dog wipes or other moist wipes labeled safe for pet use can help clean muddy, sandy, or salty paws quickly, and are convenient to carry in a bag if you’re traveling. You may need to upgrade to a warm, soapy washcloth, however, for serious messes.


Nothing gets your dog’s paws cleaner than a bath. While you don’t have to completely soak your dog, washing their paws thoroughly to remove dirt or harmful substances like road salt is sometimes the best—or only—option.

If you have a small dog, you may be able to do this over a sink instead of a tub. And you can always try bathing a larger dog’s paws in the tub with a detachable shower head. Just make sure you dry the paws thoroughly before letting your dog back outside. You can also try a portable paw cleaner made just for the task.

Check Between Your Dog’s Toes

It’s tempting to give paws a quick rinse and dry so that you can move on to the next thing on your schedule. However, salt and dirt can accumulate between your dog’s toes, around and between their pads, and underneath the nail, leading to irritation. Gently part your dog’s toes as you clean to check for debris and irritation, and dry thoroughly.

Feet and tail of a dirty dog laying down in sand.
luknaja/Getty Images Plus

Keep a Grooming Towel Handy

A fresh fall of snow is fun for dogs to romp in, but can leave wet footprints in your home. A quick toweling with a super-absorbent microfiber towel can help dry clean but wet paws, and prevent your dog from slipping on hardwood floors.

Snowball Removal from Paws

Snow quickly turns to balls of ice between the pads of your dog’s feet. Snowballs are uncomfortable for your dog, and put them at risk of harming themselves. When they pull them out, they can lose hair, but could also consume harmful chemicals like de-icer or road salt. At least for areas where you use ice melt, opt for a dog-free ice melt in case they ingest this.

Instead of pulling the ice balls out yourself, soak a towel in warm water and massage the icy pad gently to melt and loosen the ice. If you have a longer-haired dog breed, you can help prevent snowballs from forming by having a professional carefully trim the hair between your dog’s pads.

Check For Cuts on Paw Pads

Cleaning your dog’s paws is a great opportunity to check for cuts, scrapes, or dry and cracking pads. The dry air in your home and the cold air outside can cause dogs’ paws to crack, which is uncomfortable. Icy conditions can also lead to cuts and scrapes, which your veterinarian can help you treat. Try a soothing paw balm or protective paw wax to help prevent future problems.

This article is intended solely as general guidance, and does not constitute health or other professional advice. Individual situations and applicable laws vary by jurisdiction, and you are encouraged to obtain appropriate advice from qualified professionals in the applicable jurisdictions. We make no representations or warranties concerning any course of action taken by any person following or otherwise using the information offered or provided in this article, including any such information associated with and provided in connection with third-party products, and we will not be liable for any direct, indirect, consequential, special, exemplary or other damages that may result, including but not limited to economic loss, injury, illness or death.

Related article: How to Prevent & Clean Tear Stains on Your Dog’s Face
Get Your Free AKC eBook

The All Purpose Grooming Tool kit

*Turn off pop-up blocker to download
*Turn off pop-up blocker to download