Musher’s Secret Dog Paw Wax: Bootless Boots for Your Dog

I get a lot of emails and comments asking me what I use to protect Summit and Gretel’s feet on our snowshoeing and hiking adventures.

At first, I didn’t use anything.

Note: this article was originally published in January of 2012.

Disclosure: I am part of the Amazon Associate program and the links below are affiliate links. As an affiliate, I earn a small commission from qualifying purchases.

When I adopted Gretel, I took her to obedience school to improve her confidence.

I was talking to the trainer about all of the hiking we do and mentioned that I had tried boots in the past but they didn’t work.

She suggested a product called Musher’s Secret Dog Paw Wax. It is a salve made in Canada to protect the feet of sled dogs.

Sled dogs don't always wear boots
Photo Credit: Depositphotos/Milous

The trainer raved about it and, taking her word for it, I immediately ordered some to try.

Is Musher’s Secret Safe For Dogs?

When I opened it, I thought it smelled lightly of petroleum.

This was a little concerning to me because I don’t like to use chemicals on the dogs if I can help it.

So I took a closer look at the label.

Despite the smell, Musher’s Secret is made of all-natural ingredients and is safe for dogs.

The description says that the paste is “safe, natural [and] made from a blend of several food-grade waxes” and a “safe, non-toxic way to protect your dog’s paws” without using dog booties.

As a bonus, all Musher’s Secret paw waxes are cruelty free!

What Does Musher’s Secret Protect My Dog’s Paws From?

According to the Musher’s Secret website:

It is described as “a dense, barrier wax that forms a breathable bond with your dog’s paws. 

Developed in Canada for use with sledding dogs, it provides tenacious protection even in the most extreme conditions.”

The extreme conditions that it claims to protect your dog’s pads from are:

  • Hot pavement
  • Rough terrain
  • Salt and chemicals
  • Ice build-up
  • Sand and sand burn
  • Snowballing

How Do You Apply Musher’s Secret?

Putting Musher’s Secret on my dog’s feet proved to be a challenge at first.

After a few failed attempts to completely cover their pads, and after getting more on myself than my dog’s paws, I found a system that worked.

I turn my dogs Summit and Gretel over on their backs, grab a paw, scoop a grape-sized blob out of the container and then rub it onto their foot (one blob per foot), being sure to work it in between the pads and onto the tips of the nails.

Summit and Gretel don’t seem to mind all of this too much. They like getting a mini foot massage and my undivided attention for a few minutes.

I work the Musher’s Secret in between each individual paw pads to cover the hair and make sure each paw pad looks “wet” black (how I know the balm has been applied there).

If there is excessive balm left on their feet, I use a towl or rag to wipe off the excess.

I don’t think they are super excited about having smelly stuff (the smell does go away shortly) on their paws because they do tend to lick their feet a little if we don’t head out the door right away.

The product says it is non-toxic though so that doesn’t worry me.

My advice is to put the paw balm on sparingly – only enough to thoroughly coat the area – and add more later if you need.

One application is supposed to last about a week so you don’t go through it fast.

Will Musher’s Secret Stain Fabric or Carpet?

I’ve suggested Musher’s Secret to people and their biggest concern is that it will rub off and leave stains on fabric or carpet.

Since Musher’s Secret is designed to absorb quickly into the pads, it is not supposed to stain.

However, it is true that if you put too much on, a glob might get on something.

Ive been using Musher’s Secret for years though, and often put on “too much” and have never had an issue with staining my clothes, furniture, carpet, etc.

Like I said previously, the best way to prevent any staining is to wipe the eexcess off once you’re done rubbing it into your dog’s feet.

Alternately, you can just go for a walk. The excess will be rubbed off on the ground.

How Often Do You Apply Musher’s Secret?

You may be wondering how often you need to apply Musher’s Secret.

It depends on your dog, activity level, and the terrain your dog is walking on.

You may need to experiment to find the optimal application interval for your dog.

Under normal conditions, the paw balm with wear off in about a week.

However, if you are walking your dog on rough surfaces, on snow, or several times a week, it may break down faster so you could need to apply it more often.

Miniature Dachshund standing comfortable in the snow with Musher's Secret Paw Balm on her feet

Musher’s Secret recommends applying their paw balm 2-3 times a week in that case.

Don’t apply it too often though!

There is a danger, if it’s applied too often, or your dog’s paw pads are already soft, that the skin could get too soft and make them vulnerable to sharp objects and irritants.

According to the Musher’s Secret FAQ page though, “If applied correctly, 2-3 times per week it should not soften the pads too much.”

They suggest cutting application back to once a week if you notice your dog’s paw pads getting too soft.

Where Can I Buy Musher’s Secret?

I first tried to buy Musher’s Secret at a pet store in 2011. It proved near impossible to find it in pet stores in Seattle.

According to the Musher’s Secret dealer listing, the closest place to me that sold it was 15 miles away so I ordered it online.

Since then, I’ve seen it in a lot of pet stores around the country. However, I’ve only seen it in specialty boutique-type pet stores.

If you don’t have a pet specialty store by you, or they don’t carry it, the easiest thing to do is order it online.

My Musher’s Secret Paw Wax Reveview

There are a lot of gimmicks out there so you may be wondering, “Does Musher’s Secret Dog Paw Balm Work?”

Yes, I do notice a difference when my Dachshunds have the paw balm on their feet.

It’s not a mind-blowing difference but it matters.

For example, Summit and Gretel almost never have issues with their feet in the snow unless the air temperature is below 20-25 degrees Fahrenheit.

But when it’s below that temperature, and we don’t use any paw balm, snow and ice may start sticking to their paws and cause discomfort.

When this happens, I know it because they immediately stop and lift up one of their feet.

They rarely stop and lift a paw up in the air when I’ve applied Musher’s Secret Paw Balm, no matter what the temperature is.

According to the testimonials on the Musher’s Secret website, it has worked miracles for some dogs.

Also, Martha Stewart mentioned it in her winter pet tips article and it generally gets a 4-5 star review on Amazon.

Since my Dachshunds don’t wear boots in the snow (you can read why here), Musher’s Secret Dog Paw Balm is a crucial adventure supply for us.

Musher's Secret is a safe and nontoxic way to protect your dog's paws from snow and salt without using dog boots.

About the Author

Hi, I’m Jessica. I’ve been studying the Dachshund breed since 2007, owned 3 of my own, and shared in the lives of thousands of others through their owner’s stories. When I’m not sharing what I know on this blog, you can find me hiking, camping, and traveling with my adventurous wiener dogs.


  1. We have problems with snowballs as Misty is a longhair. I do trim but it’s really hard to get it really short between the pads on her tiny feet. I’ll have to see about this and give it a try because she won’t wear boots and at minus 30 degrees celcius she’s refused to go for a walk even around the block this year.

    1. Let me know how it works if you try it. Chester and Gretel don’t get snow stuck between their pads with it but then again they don’t have really long hair between them either.

  2. Interesting product – I’ve never heard of anything like it before. Thanks for letting me know that it exists. Living in Australia, I don’t have to think much about snow and my dogs. 😉 But I’m always happy to learn new things like this. Thanks!

  3. I first heard of Musher’s Secret when a team running the Raid Gauloises adventure race treated their feet with it so they could run without shoes. I’ve been curious about it ever since.

    I’ve also heard of people who bicycle with their dogs using it to protect their paws from the road gravel.

    I’ve found the hair between Honey’s pads protects her feet from the road salt on the sidewalk. She’s the first dog I’ve ever had who doesn’t limp when the salt goes down.

  4. Although it is a rare occassion that I take my 2 girls out into the really cold weather, I still find this info helpful.

    We have a family property here in California in Big Bear,in the San Bernadino Mountains. They just adore the snow like crazy!!!!!!
    We have the heat up to 120 in the summer, where we live next to Palm Springs, in California. I do avoid the hot pavement at all costs for them, taking them out only in the early morn and evening around dusk if I must.

    I am one to lecture and approach, but cautiously, ignorant people to educate them, when I see them walking their dogs in the heat of the day on the pavements. I am totally at a loss how they have no idea how sensitive their pads may be for heaven sakes.
    Their pads get extremely dry and cracked though during the summer. I heard that udder cream is good for that as well, and I’ve tried it.
    I’m most definetly going to check on this product Musher’s secret now. Thank You

  5. I have been using Mushers Secert for a few months now. I recently rescued a puppy and trained him as my diabetic alert dog, and in the beginning I had concerns with walking everywhere with him. We live in Florida where the streets/sidewalks get very hot and we travel to the north where there is snow. After just returning from a trip and forgetting my mushers Secert I re confirmed that I truly believe in it as we got home and after two applications to Coppers paws his feet was no longer feeling and looking so dry and cracked. I will definetely not forget it again! And he loves the cuddle time while I apply it on his paws. He too licks his feet afterwards and I guess it smells of whatever foods it’s made of so I don’t worry about that. Also, since it is used for sled dogs I would say it has to be a great product. Amazon is a great place for purchasing this as its not in any stores near me and seems to be priced right.

    1. Glad to hear it’s worked well for your pup. There are several similar products on the market now but I don’t feel like any of them are as protective as Musher’s Secret.

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