From Waxy Balms to Creamy Butters
I started making my own dog paw wax balm many years ago, and typically used straight coconut oil, a vet cream, or a great ready-made product for any other rough or tender spots. Pure coconut oil is great, but can also be doggone messy to apply as a dog moisturiser. Butter to the rescue! It has a soft fluffy texture for small quantity use and slightly slower melt, making it easier to work with.
This dog paw and body butter balm doesn’t have the protective waxiness of a typical paw balm, which can be a good thing depending on your application methods and why you’re using it. Both types can be used at different times as part of a complimentary paw care approach, and the butter is versatile for other small spot topical moisturising. I now keep both in my care supplies and have included a little side by side comparison for you at the end of this post.
Whip It, Whip It Good!
Have you ever made your own butter from scratch before? It’s all about the churn. The same is true for body butter. Just not quite as tasty, of course! The base ingredients of this moisturiser are oils, and we whip them into an airy creamy butter. You can use the same techniques to make body butter for people, too. Or just share with the dogs. Hehehe… The finished paw and body butter is like a thick buttercream frosting. It’s easy to dip out a little dab for application. The butter melts with the body heat of your hands and dog paws or other body parts, and is massaged in as a moisturiser. See the application tips below for more.
Safety first, furfriends! All the ingredients I use are food grade for the occasional post-application lick safety, but dog balms and butters (bought or made) are not intended to be eaten in quantity.
Homemade Dog Paw and Body Butter Recipe and Instructions
Making Homemade Dog Paw and Body Butter Balm
A little dab goes a long way, so a pottle of dog paw and body butter can last quite a while, depending on your applications. You may like to keep your batch sizes small or make a bigger batch for sharing or gifting to friends.
Creamy whipped dog paw and body butter balm ingredients:
The ingredients and supplies that I use for my dog butter balm are shea butter, mango butter, coconut oil, and sweet almond or olive oil. I also include a little bit of arrowroot flour, which is optional for texture. It helps to cut the greasy feel a little after the butter has been fully massaged into the skin (and your hands). The batch shown here uses the quantities below, which makes approximately three to four containers in the size pictured here, depending on your whipping and packing.
- 1/4 cup shea butter
- 1/4 cup mango butter
- 1/4 cup coconut oil
- 2 tbsp sweet almond or olive oil
- 1 tbsp arrowroot flour (optional)
Making the butter balm:
- In a small pot or double boiler, stir the shea butter, mango butter, and coconut oil together over low heat until melted to combine.
- In a suitable bowl, combine the sweet almond or olive oil with the (optional) arrowroot flour.
- Pour the melted butters and coconut oil into the mixing bowl with the oil. Stir to combine.
- Cool at until semi-firm, stirring periodically. In a rush? Cheat the clock by using the fridge or faster still the freezer. Don’t forget it in there though (heheh…) or you’ll need to soften it back up for whipping. The colour will vary depending on your ingredients. It generally looks yellowish when liquid, then clouds and slowly goes opaque as it sets.
- Whip the mixture until it has a butter-cream frosting like texture. It will continue to set slightly after your transfer it to a container and rest.
- Spoon into jars or containers and cap.
Dog paw and body butter balm storage:
Consistency will vary with ingredients and your ambient conditions. For me, this butter balm stays a solid soft and whippy cream in our ambient room temperatures, but melts in quickly when massaged for easy application. You can tweak it to suit your personal preferences, individual ingredients, and ambient conditions. The butter balm can be stored at normal ambient temperatures, but temperatures will affect your consistency. Coconut oil has a low melting point, which helps soften this balm quickly in your warm hands for application. High ambient temperatures can cause the balm to soften, loose it’s whipped air, or reliquify completely.
Tips and Tricks
Additional DIY Dog Paw and Body Butter Balm Tips:
- The supplies used in this butter balm may be available from your local grocery or natural products store, or you can source them online through local specialists or large suppliers.
- Reuse containers where you can to reduce waste and save money. Win win!
- You can use other dog-safe butters instead of the shea and/or mango butters, and it’s best to avoid using cocoa butter in creams and balms for dogs. They all have slightly different textures, so you may need to tweak the measurements to customise your consistency. For example, my shea butter is much firmer and slightly stickier/greasier than my mango butter.
- I generally make my dog balms plain, but you can include other dog-safe add-ins or essential oils if you wish. I use Vitamin E in my waxy paw balms. Choose and use with care, especially if your dog is a licker or has sensitive skin.
- Oils and butters can be tricky to clean-up. Making balm is an exception to my low-waste cleaning philosophy for the sake of our plumbing. The warm oily pan gets a wipe with a disposable paper towel to remove any excess before washing. You can also warm the mixing bowl for a pre-wipe, if needed. And on the subject of clean up, see below for application tips.
- The shelf life of homemade dog butter balm depends on the best before life of your ingredients, storage, and handling. You can store extra balms cold or frozen to help extend their shelf life.
Dog Paw and Body Butter Balm Application Tips:
No matter what your texture or ingredients, dog balms can be messy, especially on paws, but you can use a few tricks to help.
- A gentle paw massage while your dog is relaxed on their bed or blanket will let you work the balm in and give it time to absorb instead of being tracked around the house. The same is true if you’re applying the balm as a body butter to other dry spots that might come into a contact with your carpets, furniture, etc. Of course, treats always help with compliance at our place. Haha!
- Outdoor applications can help to keep any mess outside, but the same surface cautions apply. I’d still recommend taking care with if you’re applying on a deck or patio to avoid greasy paw prints.
- The texture of this whipped butter balm is similar to human body butters. Massaging will spread the balm all over the paw or dry spot, and help it soak in faster than just slathering it on. Until it’s fully rubbed in and absorbed into the skin, it will feel greasy/oily and will transfer to other surfaces as noted above, so apply with care. Not sure? You can test it on yourself first to get an idea of quantity, melt, application, feel, and absorption time.
- A little goes a long way. If you’ve gone overboard and applied too much (or your dog wants to stop the s-paw treatment), you can wipe excess from the dog and your hands with a cloth.
- With or without butters and balms, massage can feel great (and help your dog become comfortable with having their feet handled if that’s an issue). Check out these ideas from Fetch by WebMD for other dog paw care tips.
Whipped Moisturiser Dog Butter Balm vs. Waxy Dog Paw Balm
As noted above, the moisturising ingredients in both this whipped butter balm and my homemade paw balm / paw wax are the same (different quantities and ratios), but this whipped butter balm doesn’t include the wax. The side-by-side photo below shows a pottle of whipped butter balm and a pottle of waxy paw balm. They both moisturise, but the balm with wax leaves a thin protective waxy feel (similar to using a lip balm) while the butter balm massages in as a straight moisturiser. Both are handy in their own way depending on your needs and goals for application.
The whipped butter balm is soft and creamy, making it easy to dip out a small quantity for use. With the warmth of your hands, it quickly softens and melts into an oil that can be fully massaged and absorbed into the skin or paw. If a small quantity is used, it can be absorbed without leaving a film or greasy feel (although excess can also be wiped, if needed as noted above). It’s handy if you need a boost of moisturising between paw balm applications or are treating an issue where you don’t want wax. It’s my go-to for most situations where I would have used straight coconut oil in the past.
The waxy paw balm is firm. A small amount can be scraped out and warmed by rubbing in your hands to soften before massaging into the paws. It has a thicker feel when softened on the fingertips because of the higher melting point of the mixture. The waxy paw balm can also be massaged in until the skin is no longer wet or greasy to the touch, but a thin waxy residue remains. This can help in situations where you’d like the help of a light protective barrier. For maximum benefit (and minimum mess) it’s best applied before a long rest as a deep conditioner or before/as you go out for protection.
For both balms, the application process is similar. Enjoy your massage time and topical treatments, furfriends. Remember to take care with application to ensure your balms are rubbed in for maximum effect and minimum mess. As a bonus, they make your hands feel pretty great, too! Win win!