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How to Clean Dog Paws: After Walks & Before Coming Inside | Pupford

December 11th, 2023

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The most important way I’ve kept my house clean with multiple dogs is by cleaning my dog’s paws after each walk.

While it may sound like a lot of work, it takes just a couple of minutes and can significantly reduce the amount of dirt, germs, and bacteria that enter your home!

Plus, by handling your dog’s paws after each walk you get the chance to check for any issues like thorns, cracking, or other paw concerns.

Here’s what we will cover in this article:

  • Why cleaning your dog’s paws is important
  • 5 of the best ways to clean your dog’s paws
  • Extra paw care ideas

Related Reading: How to Clean a Puppy Without Bathing


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cleaning a dogs paws is important to remove dirt mud and bacteria

Some people might scoff at the idea of washing a dog’s paws after walks, but I want to tell you three reasons why it’s important!

Related Reading: How to Clean a Dog's Nose


Sometimes we can visibly see how dirty and muddy our dog’s paws are. There might be mud, dust, or something else weird they stepped in.

But what about when we can’t see anything on their paws? Does that mean they’re clean?

A recent study actually set out to see just how much fecal matter 💩 was tracked on New York City sidewalks, common building areas, and people’s shoes. While I know NYC is probably much dirtier than most places, the findings still hold weight, even in rural communities.

Essentially they found a grossly high amount of fecal matter in all the areas tested, including the soles of shoes.

So, if the soles of people’s shoes can carry fecal matter, wouldn’t that mean dog’s paws can too?!

Many people ask you to remove your shoes when entering, often as a matter of cleanliness and germs. But your dog can’t remove their shoes… They just walk everywhere with their dirty dog paws!

And if you let your dog sleep in bed with you, then cleaning your dog’s paws is even more important!

PS- Some people use dog shoes to help reduce how dirty their pup’s paws get! I know this isn’t widespread, hence the need for this article. 😀


cleaning a dogs paws can help reduce their allergies

Many dogs suffer from allergies, especially in the spring.

When our pups get allergies, whether to food, pollen, or other allergens, it can be quite irritating for them! That irritation can lead to things like constant itching, licking their paws, and sneezing.

When your dog's allergies are non-food related, like pollen, it’s extremely important to keep their paws clean. As your dog walks, their paws will likely pick up allergens and pollen, and then that’s all tracked into the house when you come inside!

Cleaning your dog’s paws when allergens are present can help reduce their pain and irritation! Plus, if you struggle with spring allergies this can help reduce the amount of pollen entering your home, and in turn your nose.

🐕 Don’t let your pup’s paws go unprotected! Use Butter Up paw balm to keep paws moisturized and protected. Shop here! 🐕 


We see our pups all the time, but how often are you looking at your dog’s paw pads?!

Cleaning your dog’s paws gives you a chance to check their paw health on a frequent basis.

You can handle their paws and paw pads and look for cracks, items lodged in their paw, or any change in overall paw pad health. It’s a simple task that can help you catch any potential issues early on!

Related Reading: Dry Shampoo for Dogs, A Guide


a dog sitting before a human cleans the dogs paws

Now that you know why cleaning your dog’s paws is important, let’s look at some different ways to clean and sanitize your dog’s paws. Each will have advantages and disadvantages, like most things in life.

But first, a quick survey.

Here are 5 of the best ways to clean a dog’s paws:

  1. MudBuster
  2. A wet rag with soap
  3. Dog cleaning wipes
  4. Teaching your dog to wipe paws
  5. Using the bath (not a full bath)

My recommendation is to read the article, try out different methods with your dog, and see what works best. Remember to raise, love, and train the dog in front of you. Every dog is unique!

Let’s look at each one below. 👇

Related Reading: How to Keep a House Clean with Dogs, Including Floors


using mudbusters bristles to clean paws

Without a doubt, the best way to clean your dog’s dirty or muddy paws is to use a MudBuster!

The MudBuster is a cylinder-shaped device with silicone bristles on the inside, it's a simple paw washer. You just dip your dog’s paw into the MudBuster and it works to gently remove dirt and grime.

As a note, it’s important to slowly introduce and desensitize your dog to using the MudBuster.

Here’s how to use the MudBuster for cleaning paws:

  1. Fill the MudBuster with warm water
    1. You can add dog shampoo/soap for extra cleaning power
  2. Gently place your dog’s paw in the MudBuster
  3. Twist the device
  4. Remove your dog’s paw and dry it with a towel

It’s that simple! The beauty of this device is that it keeps all the mud and dirt inside. So, instead of dirtying a towel every single time, you have a paw cleaner you can empty and clean after each use.

I have used our MudBuster every single day (at least once) for over 2 years and absolutely love it. I originally purchased it because we live in New York City (see the poop research above), but I will continue to use it even if we move!

It is so simple to fill it up, dip your dog’s muddy paws in, and easily get rid of extra dirt, bacteria, and who knows what else.

Get a MudBuster here!

Honestly, I could end the article here… but I want to show a few other options in case you don’t want to go this route. ⏬

🐕 Don’t let your pup’s paws go unprotected! Use Butter Up paw balm to keep paws moisturized and protected. Shop here! 🐕 


using a wet rag with soap is an easy to way to clean your dogs paws

This is just about the most classic way to clean anything, including dirty dog paws after a walk. Just grab a wet rag with some soap and get to cleaning. It’s super easy to give a quick cleaning before coming inside!

The advantage of a wet rag with soap is that it’s quite efficient at getting in the nooks and crannies of your dog’s paws. You’ll also want to use the dry end of the rag or another rag/towel to dry off your dog’s paws.

The disadvantage of this route is that you’ll be going through a lot of rags if you choose to do this frequently.


While I always opt for using the MudBuster at home, it can be convenient to bring dog cleaning wipes in your car, bag, or on vacation with your dog.

You’ll just grab a paw wipe and clean your dog’s paws. Easy!

The disadvantage of cleaning wipes is they can be quite pricey, especially if you’re using them frequently.

Important Note: You want to use dog-specific cleaning wipes and not just any baby wipes or something similar. Dog cleaning wipes have a specific pH that will help keep your dog’s paws from becoming irritated!

🐕 Don’t let your pup’s paws go unprotected! Use Butter Up paw balm to keep paws moisturized and protected. Shop here! 🐕 


While it may not be the most effective cleaning method, it’s fun to watch! Teaching your dog to wipe their paws can at least help remove some of the loose dirt and grime before coming inside.

Plus, it doesn’t involve any work on your end (other than teaching the trick initially).

amber aquart dog wiping paws

Here’s a quick overview of how to teach your dog to wipe their paws:

  1. Place a treat under a towel; mark (click or say “yes”) and reward (give a treat) when your dog digs at the towel
  2. Encourage your dog to dig at the towel without putting a treat under it; mark and reward!
  3. When your dog is consistently digging at the towel, add a hand signal and/or verbal cue like “dig” just before they wipe their paws


While some dogs really hate getting baths, others don’t mind at all. If that’s the case for your pup, then this is a relatively straightforward way to clean a dog’s paws.

a small dog getting their paws cleaned in the bath

Instead of giving a full bath, you just want to give a “paw bath”. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Set your bath to not drain
  2. Fill the bath with about 2-4 inches of water
  3. Add a little bit of dog shampoo and mix it to make it bubbly
  4. Have your dog step into the bath (but not lay down) and walk around
  5. You can help the cleaning process by scrubbing your dog’s soap-covered paws with your hands
  6. Dry your dog’s paws

Alternatively, if you don’t have a bath but have a shower head with a wand you can accomplish the same thing.

I would say in most cases the paw bath route is usually only necessary if your dog’s paws are quite muddy or dirty. It’s probably a bit overkill for “every day” paw cleaning.


Cleaning dog paws is important, but there are so many other things you can do to care for your dog’s paws!

Here are a few ideas:

  • Frequent nail trimming
  • Protecting paws in extreme weather
  • Moisturizing and conditioning paw pads

Let’s look at each one below. 🔽


trimming a dogs nails is important for their paw health

Keeping your dog’s nails trimmed is extremely important for their paw health.

If you let your dog’s nails grow too long they can actually curl into their skin/pads and cause extreme discomfort and hinder their ability to walk.

Here’s a quick overview of how to trim dog nails with a basic nail trimmer:

  • Look at the hook on a white nail, you'll trim right off the hook (not all dog nails have a hook)
  • If no hook is present, just identify the quick ⬇️
  • Identify the quick (pink), push barely in front of it, and then trim it off

For a full tutorial (with video), head here to learn how to trim dog nails.

🐕 Don’t let your pup’s paws go unprotected! Use Butter Up paw balm to keep paws moisturized and protected. Shop here! 🐕 


Extreme weather can cause all sorts of challenges, and it’s no different with your pup. On the hottest and coldest days of the year, it’s important to practice extra precautions for your dog’s paws and feet.

When the temperature gets above 80 degrees, pavement can become extremely hot and dangerous to your dog’s pads. If your dog has to walk on hot pavement or asphalt it can cause blisters, irritation, and burns.

cold weather and ice melt can damage a dogs paws

In cold weather, ice, ice melt, and freezing temperatures can also cause discomfort to your dog’s pads. If your dog will tolerate dog boots/shoes, it’s a good idea to use them for extremely cold weather walking.

It’s especially important to clean your dog’s paws after walking in the winter. Ice melt can be dangerous and cause discomfort and cleaning paws after a walk can help remove it!


As someone who jogs with my dogs frequently, their paws and my feet take a beating!

For myself, I will often try to use lotion to help soothe my feet after long runs. But what about the pups?!

Enter Butter Up Paw Balm!

This easy-to-apply paw moisturizer helps to condition paw pads and even protect them from future cracking and discomfort.

Our pup’s paws take a beating, so keeping them moisturized with a paw balm is beneficial for them!

PS- Does your pup struggle with allergies and gnawing at their paws? Head here to learn all about why dogs lick their paws.


a dog with clean paws

Our dogs' paws can get seriously gross after walks, hiking, and exploring the world around them.

By washing your dog’s paws you can reduce dirt in your home, protect their paws, and have an overall happier pup (and home). Say goodbye to muddy paw prints on your carpet or furniture! 🙌

Here’s a recap of 5 ways to clean your dog’s paws:

  1. MudBuster
  2. A wet rag with soap
  3. Dog cleaning wipes
  4. Teaching your dog to wipe paws
  5. Using the bath (not a full bath)

By far, the most effective way is the MudBuster. Be sure to check it out here!

And don’t forget to proactively moisturize and protect your dog’s paws with Butter Up. Shop here!

Do you clean your dog’s paws after walks? How do you do it? Tell us in the comments below.

🐕 Don’t let your pup’s paws go unprotected! Use Butter Up paw balm to keep paws moisturized and protected. Shop here! 🐕 


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