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What are Healing Paw Balms?
A healing paw balm is a solid-ish product (think vaseline consistency or a little thicker) that soothes dry, chapped, or cracked skin. I was introduced to them when Rodrigo used to lick his paws incessantly. And someone recommended Bag Balm for snow days to protect our dogs' paw pads. Despite the strong scent of Bag Balm, the brand says that it's safe to use on our dogs' paws and it's non-toxic, so we don't have to race to the emergency vet if our dog licks it off. However, I couldn't get past the smell so I began looking for natural alternatives that I could use on myself and my dogs.
The following are the four brands of healing balms that I use regularly.
1 – Dr. Harvey's Organic Healing Cream
This product isn't a cream, at least not a cream that I'm used to using. It's thicker than a cream (or vaseline), but it's soft and has a mellow scent. It's made in the USA with all-natural ingredients and it can be used to heal dry/cracked paws, rashes, hotspots, sunburns, and more. AND IT WORKS!
Ingredients: Organic Shea Butter, Organic Coconut Oil, Organic Beeswax Granules, Aloe Vera Gel, Polysorbate-20 (From Vegetable Source), Arnica Extract, Calendula Extract, Goldenseal Extract, Chamomile Extract, Comfrey Extract, Propolis Extract, Thyme Extract, Rosemary Extract, Tea Tree Oil, Lavender Oil, Eucalyptus Oil
2 – CannaBalm by Healthy Hemp
This is my favorite one. The reason why it's #2 on the list is that I have all of the balms set up in front of me as I type. A little peek behind the curtain to see the magic. You're welcome.
Anyway, CannaBalm is very soft (softer than vaseline) and has a nice scent. I use this one for painful and irritating cuts and scrapes, and itchy skin. Thanks to the CBD, CannaBalm can also be massaged into muscles, the area around points, and it's magic on my lower back.
This product is made in Utah and contains all-natural ingredients.
Ingredients: Olive Oil, Coconut Oil, Beeswax, Vitamin E, and Organic Full-Spectrum Terpene-rich Full Spectrum Hemp Oil.
3 – 4-Legger Nose & Paws Healing Balm
I was introduced to 4-Leggers years ago and what I love about this brand is the commitment to creating safe, all-natural, organic products for pets that work. Having lived through a cancer diagnosis in 2020, I value sourcing a lot more and prefer truly organic products (not ones that use the word for marketing purposes) even more. I stock up on their shampoo and coat conditioners and I purchased my first bottles of animalEO through their website.
Ingredients: Organic Hemp Oil, Organic Shea Butter, Organic Carnauba Wax, Natural Vitamin E (Tocopherol), Organic Rosemary Extract, Organic Calendula Extract, Organic St. John's Wort Extract
4 – Pup & Pony Paw Balm by Plant Therapy
I order my oils from animalEO, Simply Earth, and Plant Therapy, which now has products for pets. Their paw balm is on the softer side, similar to CannaBalm, which I like. And although the scent isn't overwhelming, the soft, lavender scent is a little stronger than the other balms that I have, so I don't use this one on Zoey.
This balm is used primarily for dry, cracked paws. It's also great to put on our dogs' paws on snow days. I would not use this balm for hotspots or as protection from the sun. Out of all of my balms, this one is my least favorite when compared to the ingredients and effectiveness of the other three. Sorry, Plant Therapy.
Ingredients: Coconut Oil, Jojoba Seed Oil, Olive Fruit Oil, Beeswax, Tocopherol, Calendula Flower Extract, Lavender Oil, Frankincense Oil, and Helichrysum Flower Oil
CBD Dog Health Paw and Skin Balms
In Spring 2021, I was introduced to CBD Dog Health. A friend suggested that I check out this company for Scout, who was diagnose with lymphoma in February 2021. I ordered the CBD oil and went back and picked up the two balms they offer.
- SOOTHE – is for hotspots and other wounds
- REMEDY – is for tumors and cysts
- NOURISH – is for a dry nose, paws, elbows
Lavengel: Skin & Wound GEL for Dogs
Not interested in a balm, try a gel. I was introduced to Lavengel in 2020 and purchased a tube for my dogs. Before I try anything on my dogs, I try it on myself and I had some scratches that were itching like crazy. I was worried that the gel would burn or aggravate the area, but it cooled everything down and the area was healed the next day.
As you can tell by the name, it contains lavender (and it smells of lavender). It has a sticky consistency, similar to honey. A little goes a long way. Lavengel is great for dry, itchy, cracked skin, hotspots, bug bites, blisters, and more.
I've only used Lavengel on Rodrigo once to heal the start of a hotspot and it worked overnight. This isn't an edible gel and the website states that because it offers relief so quickly, dogs won't lick the area after application – WRONG! (with Rodrigo). Nothing is going to keep Rodrigo from licking the tops of his paws. So, I put a flexible cone around Rigo's neck.
Ingredients: Vitamin E, Distilled Water, Lavender Oil, Vitamin C, and Zinc
An Easy DIY Paw Balm Recipe
And, of course, you can make your own paw balm using essential oils. I found a recipe on the Planet Paws Facebook page and adjusted it a little bit.
Ingredients for DIY Paw Balm:
- 1/2 cup of beeswax pellets (to create a protective barrier)
- 1/4 cup of shea butter (soothes skin and has healing and anti-inflammatory properties)
- 1/4 cup of CocoTherapy coconut oil (natural antibacterial properties)
- 4 tablespoons of Calendula oil (healing/soothing cracked paw pads)
- 1/8 cup of avocado or olive oil (natural moisturizer)
Alternatives to Calendula Oil
Don't have Calendula oil? No problem, other oils that also heal and soothe dry, cracked paw pads are:
When using other oils, I add them to the melted beeswax/coconut oil blend, starting with 10 drops and adjusting based on the oil. For example, eucalyptus is a strong scent, so I would use less than the other oils I listed above. I use The Animal Desk Reference (second edition) by Dr. Melissa Shelton to better understand what essential oils are safe for my dogs.
Other books that I like that cover essential oils for human use are:
Directions for DIY Paw Balm:
Combine all of the ingredients in a pot and slowly heat until beeswax and coconut oil are melted. I prefer to add the ingredients to a sturdy glass jar (that can handle the high temperatures) instead of using our pots. I don't have a dedicated pot for DIY projects.
Once everything is melted, I transfer the liquid to a container to allow to cool and solidify. I use old peanut butter jar lids, small, wide-mouth glass containers, and old Rubbermaid containers for my paw balms.
Make the Paw Balm Softer:
To get a softer paw balm, I add a little more coconut oil to the mixture. This step requires some trial and error to find the right amount that gives you the consistency that you want. A softer paw balm moves easily over the treated, absorbs quickly, and seems to work faster, providing fast relief.
Make the Paw Balm Pretty:
When making this as a gift for friends, I'll dry flowers (lavender mostly) to sprinkle into the liquid within each container before it solidifies. I do this when I'm making a balm for friends or for an event.
animalEO Oils to Use in a Paw Balm:
Now that I'm a nutty fan of animalEO, I prefer to use one of the following oils (depending on my goals) in my DIY paw balms:
- RoseRaime – great for wounds, insect bites, skin irritation
- Skin Spray Base – great for hotspots
- Sunshine in a Bottle – many wellness benefits
- Warmth – a calming blend
- Yeasty Beasty – great for yeasty paws and skin
There are many more that you can use; these are the first five that came to mind.
Any Warnings About Paw Balms?
I've been using paw balms for so many years (longer than I've been feeding raw) that I've taken it for granted that paw balms are perfectly safe for dogs. But are they?
The paw balms that I shared above are safe for dogs. However, I can't say the same for everything on the market. The pet industry has heard our call for natural products, but too many companies are cutting corners to deliver these products. Because of this, I'm very careful about what I purchase for my dogs, Also, if you Google DIY Paw Balm Recipes, you'll find a plethora of recipes from Young Living and DoTerra reps that aren't as safe as they seem. Over the years, I've learned that not all essential oils are created equal and some brands should never be used with our pets (one, in particular, has a history of harming pets).
Ultimately, it's “buyer beware,” when shopping for paw balms or paw balm recipes.
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