If your dog or cat is suffering from allergies and/or resulting yeast infections of the paw (e.g., candida), or has come into contact with poisonous and/or toxic substances, giving them a foot soak is very important to reduce discomfort, help treat the symptoms, remove harmful residue and stop your dog or cat’s need to lick and chew their paws. Toxins left on the paws can migrate into your pet’s bloodstream, and over time increase their toxic load, compromise their immune system and trigger the development of diseases such as cancer.
If your pet’s paws have come into contact with road salt, herbicides, fertilizers or pesticides it is very important to ensure that you remove the particulate and/or residue from these substances right away. Even if you cannot see anything on their paws – if they’ve walked on or brushed against surfaces or plants that are treated with these substances – a residue will be present on their paws, fur or skin. The toxic chemicals found in these substances can make their way into your pet’s blood stream by passing through their skin or when your pet licks their paws, fur or skin.
The most effective way to remove toxins (road salt, herbicides, fertilizers or pesticides) from your pet’s paws is to provide them with a 30 second foot soak. Depending on the size of your pet, you can do a foot soak in the bowl or basin, sink, bathtub, shower or in a small children’s pool.
It is important to note that dunking/placing your pet’s paws in the soaking solution is not as effective as soaking the paw for 30 seconds. After the soak just pat their paws dry (do not rub them dry as rubbing can cause irritation).
Foot Soak Recipe #1 - To Remove Toxins, Disinfect Paw Wounds, Treat Yeast Infections
Warm Water & Iodine ~ Iodine is a naturally occurring water-soluble element and an excellent disinfectant as it has both antifungal and antiviral properties. It is also non-toxic for dogs (but should not be ingested, just used topically) and a common disinfectant carried by most pharmacies. This soaking solution is great for removing toxins from the surface of your pet’s paws as well as treating itchy, inflamed, and otherwise irritated paws.
- Fill the container you are using with warm water;
- Add enough iodine to make the water turn the color of iced tea;
- Have your pet stand in or hold their paws in the solution for 30 seconds;
- Then pat your pet’s paws dry
Foot Soak Recipe #2 - To Treat Yeast Infections or Irritated Paws
Warm Water, Apple Cider Vinegar & Hydrogen Peroxide ~ Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) has antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties (primarily from the acetic and malic acids in ACV). To make this paw soak combine one gallon of water with one cup of hydrogen peroxide, and one cup of ACV. Soak your pet’s paws in the solution for 30 seconds and then just pat their paws dry.
Foot Soak Recipe #3 - To Treat Yeast Infections or Irritated Paws
Warm Water, Apple Cider Vinegar, Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice & Peppermint Essential Oil ~ Peppermint contains cooling essential oils (such as menthol) and has antiseptic and slightly anesthetic properties. To make this paw soak combine one gallon of water with one cup of ACV, the fresh juice of one lemon, and 20 drops of peppermint essential oil. Just soak for 30 seconds and then pat your pet’s paws dry. Find out more about all of the health benefits of fresh lemon for dogs, here.
You Can Also Add Herbs to the Recipes Above
Chamomile ~ A non-toxic, soothing all natural additive. Just add a few chamomile tea bags to the liquid solution, wait a few minutes, and then soak your pet’s feet. You can also prepare the tea as you normally would drink it, wait for it to cool down, and then add it to the liquid solution.
Green Tea ~ (use decaffeinated only) Rich in antioxidants and an all natural healing aid. Just add a few green tea bags to the liquid solution, wait a few minutes, and then soak your pet’s feet. You can also prepare the tea as you normally would drink it, wait for it to cool down, and add it to the liquid solution.
Foot Soak Recipe #4 - To Treat Yeast Infections or Irritated Paws
Warm Water, Rooibos Tea & Fresh Squeezed Lemon ~ Rooibos is naturally anti-allergenic and also contains a significant amount of AHA (alpha-hydroxy acid) making rooibos tea an aid to the healthy growth and maintenance of skin. To see the recipe for rooibos foot soak and read about the benefits of giving your dog rooibos tea as part of a daily diet you can read the article "Rooibos Tea for Dogs - Immune System Health, Cancer Inhibitor, Allergy Mediator."
The recipes listed above should be used three or four times a week if you are treating a yeast infection or irritation due to allergies. You can also use plain apple cider vinegar between foot soaks. Simply put it in a spray bottle, spray your pet’s paws, then pat dry.
You don’t need to bother with fancy store bought concoctions; they are not necessary and not better. You have what you need to create an excellent treatment with the simple, off-the shelf items mentioned above. Lathering your pet’s paws with ointments, salves and lotions may make the irritation worse, as allergens, toxins and dirt can get trapped underneath the ointment. It is better to use one of these soaks and then keep your pet’s paws dry and clean.
If your dog has a yeast infection (e.g., candida) you really need to treat the symptom (e.g., itchy, irritated paws that may smell like corn chips), as well as the underlying cause. It is important to note that in the case of a yeast infection, prednisone and antibiotics can make the condition worse as they further suppress a dog’s immune system and antibiotics kill the good bacteria in their gastrointestinal tract, further allowing the bad bacteria to flourish.
A doggie kibble which is primarily grain based can cause an overproduction of candida in a dog's digestive system, which can lead to yeast infections. Also, if your dog has sugar in their diet it can destroy the good bacteria in their digestive tract. Good bacteria prevents bad bacteria from taking over (an over abundance of bad bacteria causes yeast infections). To understand how to choose a good kibble for your dog you can read this article.
If your dog does not have a super sensitive stomach, you can add a little plain yogurt to their diet. This will help increase the good bacteria in the GI tract. Adding other fresh whole foods, coconut oil and herbs can also boosts their immune system, which will help fight-off infections.
~ Special thanks to Karen Rosenfeld, who authored the original post from which this has been adapted, on April 20, 2012. ~