Your dog's paws just like your feet require some TLC every now and then.
Unlike you, odds are your pup does not regularly wear shoes 👞 for protection. As a result their paw pads take a lot of beating.
Many pet parents today apply all sorts of moisturizers to help alleviate the impact on their dogs paws.
Learning how to buy pup paw balms that are non-toxic, free of "natural" but toxic substances and safe for your pup is a must have skill that can make a big difference in your dog's overall health and well being.
In the wild west of the unregulated pet products industry, where the market is flooded with unscrupulous sellers unafraid of causing harm to our beloved dogs, buying skin pet products (and in pet products in general) that are safe for our petsrequires some skill.
1. Always be aware that labeling a product as “Natural” does not automatically make it safe for your fur baby.
Some dog paw balms are known to contain natural ingredients and herbs that are not safe for your fur babies. Did you know that aloe can cause liver damage to your dog and cat? Or that 99% of essential oils if ingested can cause damage or worse, death to your kitty?
Even if you only apply it to your dog, odds are your cat will come into contact with these ingredients just by walking around your house. And these are just a few examples.
Natural should never be be used as a proxy to safe when it comes to buying pet safe products.
2. Endorsements and third-party certifications are important - "organic" is not the same as "USDA Certified Organic."
In the world of self-reporting where sellers can easily make any unsubstantiated claims on their products without fearing repercussions, it is important to make sure claims such as "organic" can be verified.
Many unscrupulous sellers will greenwash their products making baseless "organic product" claims. You should stay away from products that claim "organic" status without disclosing their certifying body.
Certifying bodies require that products disclose the name of their certifying body somewhere on their product label.
A statement such as "certified by PCO" should be visible on the product. Products that claim USDA organic without disclosing this information are likely to be sold by unscrupulous seller seeking to mislead pet parents.
Likewise, products that claim organic product attributes without a third-party certification (such as the USDA) are likely to be anything but organic, beware!
3. If your dog paw balm does not indicate that it's hexane-free, do not use it!
Unless it uses virgin or unrefined oils, most oils used in the manufacturing of balms go through an insane amount of processing with chemical solvents, steamers, neutralizers, de-waxers, bleach, and deodorizers before they end up as an ingredient in your dog paw balm.
Neurotoxic hexane (used as solvent)is a cheap byproduct from gasoline production, that’s a serious occupational hazard and a toxic air pollutant.
4. If the country of origin is not easily identifiable on the product itself, there is a reason, and it’s not a good one.
Wouldn’t you hope that the manufacturer would want to effortlessly display the country of origin if the product was made in a country with high manufacturing standards? Say for example made in the USA or Made in Italy, or any other country?
If you buy your dog and cat products on the largest US eCommerce site, odds are those products are manufactured in Asia. Don't believe us? keep on reading.
There are several ways in which you can find out if your paw balms (or any other pet product) is made in Asia. Simply run what we like to call the 3liv3v3 test (replace the "3" symbol for the letter "a" and the "v" for a "b" when looking up this website).
For those of you not familiar with this website, it is basically where 90 plus percent of products come from on the largest eCommerce site in the USA. Go on 3liv3v3 and run a search for dog paw balms.
You will be surprised to find many of the most popular commercially available products there. The horrifying thing is that many of these brands label their products as "handcrafted in the USA" or even "made in the USA"
Momma Knows Best® dog and cat balms are handmade in small production batches in the USA using only USDA certified organic ingredients.
5. If your dog balm says, “Made in the US with Globally Sourced Ingredients," you can reasonably assume that most if not all ingredients are sourced from China.
And, so you may want to stay away from them. These dog paw balms may even display a “Made in America” logo on their products.
I feel very comfortable knowing that our lawnmower was made using globally sourced parts and components. I totally get it, it's called globalization.
However, if for some random reason my favorite restaurant should decide it's a good idea to update their menu to read "globally sourced salmon" instead of "Alaskan salmon," I would leave and never come back.
Plus, I would take pictures of their menu to share it with all my family and friends to educate them about the risks of eating salmon of dubious origins.
By the same token, we believe no pet parent feels comfortable feeding their dog's largest organ (the skin) with ingredients of dubious origins.
See, China has become the largest ingredient manufacturer in the world and this has opened up opportunities for "formulation creativity" for manufacturers seeking to make a quick buck from trusting and unsuspecting pet parents.
More often than not, the "globally sourced ingredients" claim is used for getting away with masking the Chinese origin of ingredients.
But, why would a manufacturer want to mask the Chinese origins of ingredients? I'm glad you asked, very simply put: they know you'd be scared to buy their products.
And so, fancy expressions do the trick. Do you really think that if their ingredients were "globally" sourced from Europe, South America, or any other part of the world they would choose to claim "globally sourced ingredients"? We believe not. Most probably they would deliberately avoid vagueness and choose specificity.
At this point, you may be thinking, hmm but many ingredients are not native to the US and so they need to be imported, right? And that's correct.
That's why we deal exclusively with carefully screened, vetted, and selected US suppliers that abide by US standards, laws, and FDA regulations as opposed to seeking to reduce costs by buying directly from unregulated Chinese suppliers. We do not cut corners for profit, we only cut out harmful ingredients.
6. The “Made in the US” claim is not a guarantee for safety or a lack of non-toxic ingredients.
Even if your pet balm shows this label, you should be cautious as many commercially available dog balms are made in the USA using raw materials sourced from countries in Asia where chemicals and acids are considered safe for use in manufacturing organic products.
Always ask where the materials are sourced from for your own peace of mind! Momma Knows Best® dog and cat balms are made in the USA with 100% USDA certified organic ingredients.
7. Product badges are used as a marketing plot, can be misleading, and may not mean what you expect.
Be cautious in assuming the “Best Seller,” or the “Product Choice” badges are proxies for safety or harmlessness for your fur baby.Be aware that these badges only mean that a given product makes the most money in each category.
In many cases, these badges are “earned” by savvy sellers that solely focus on revenue and not quality.
Some widely known tactics include fake high popularity driven by review manipulation and consumers' lack of knowledge on the subject matter. Do your due diligence and only get what is best for your fur baby.
8. Beware of “greenwashing” and hard selling tactics.
Many commercially available dog paw balm brands will greenwash their products by using terms like “Natural,” “Eco,” “Sustainable,” “Vet Approved,” “Premium,” “Vet Recommended,” or “Made with Organic Ingredients.”
However, they will use ingredients grown in and sourced from China, or “Organic” but “certified” in China where formaldehyde and dioxin are liberally used in the production of organic products.
What is Greenwashing?
Momma Knows Best® dog and cat balms are made in the USA with 100% US sourced ingredients. We work exclusively with carefully screened, vetted, and selected US companies that abide by US laws, regulations, and FDA standards. For us, safety is first.
Just our two cents, for the long life of our fur family members!
Did you enjoy this guide? Read more dog and cat care guides below.
Additionally, if you are feeling like getting a little special something for your fur baby that is unique, made right here in the USA, 100% pup and cat safe, USDA certified organic and brought to you by a US company, check out Toe Beans online pet supplies store!
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K Marie Alto
K. Marie is an animal lover, wife, kitty mom, dog auntie, writer, and co-founder of Toe Beans, a proud American family-owned online boutique pet supplies store focused on the improvement of the life of furry family members via pet parent education, better products, and advocacy. She has over 20 years of experience as a pet momma. She loves sharing her personal journey and experience as a pet parent via her blog and Facebook page where she currently has more than 30K followers (@furrytoebeans) and counting :-).