by Kathy Dannel Vitcak 2 min read


What the heck is the difference between a balm, a butter, a salve or an ointment? You may have noticed all sorts of products that have a rich, butter or oil base called a variety of names. Which one is RIGHT?

Salves, balms, ointments, unguents, by any name are all semi-solid mixes of fatty ingredients such as butters, oils and waxes. They usually have no water in them at all, but may have a small amount of an essence or tincture for vibrational effect.

Overall, ointments, unguents and salves are thought to be pretty much the same thing. 

A good definition would be this: “A healing external preparation made with medicinal substances in a base of oils and waxes”.

Balms are considered by some to be all of the above, but with more essential oils or aromatherapy oils added. There will be a bit more of a scent when you open the container of a dog balm. Balms and salves do not HAVE to have butters on them.

Butters are a combination of oils and butters (like shea butter, coconut butter, cocoa butter) and possibly a wax, such as beeswax. Butters never have water.

dog balms

For our purposes, I use the three terms interchangeably as I ramble along to allow you, my clients, to find this product using various searches online. Personally, I believe terminology to also be somewhat regional. People in some parts of the country refer to anything like this a salve and others only use the term ointment. Growing up in Mississippi, we used both terms, salve or ointment, for this type of product. I smile at what my grandmother would think of my dog balm products. Balm was not a term I grew up hearing, so I find it interesting that my husband and I live on Balm Lake!

The Miller-Keane Encyclopedia and Dictionary of Medicine, Nursing, and Allied Health defines an ointment as “a semisolid preparation for external application to the skin or mucous membranes. Official ointments consist of medicinal substances incorporated in suitable vehicles (bases). Called also salve and unguent.

So, whatever you choose to call it, we hope that you enjoy all the amazing benefits of our NOSE BUTTER, PAW BUTTER, ELBOW BUTTER or BOO BOO BUTTER.

Dog balm or dog salve or dog unguent or oh yeah…BUTTERS!

PS - I do own the copyright on the term NOSE BUTTER® - that will be for another blog post!

dog ointment

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