FDA Warns Against Putting Hand Sanitizer On Your Dog’s Paws

As the novel coronavirus continues to spread, it’s never been more important to have clean hands. Hand sanitizer helps prevent the virus from spreading to others and keeps it from entering your mouth and nose. Pretty much everyone has a bottle on them at all times these days.

Naturally, you want to ensure that everyone in your family is protecting themselves from infection as much as possible too. However, the FDA says the hand sanitizing practice should not extend to your dogs. The agency shared on Twitter:

“Attention Pet Owners: Do not use hand sanitizer to clean your pet’s paws. It can cause poisoning if absorbed through the skin. Hand sanitizer products can make your dog sick if eaten.” -@FDAAnimalHealth via Twitter

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Veterinarian Dr. Marty Becker explained to Today that alcohol’s drying effects can also be very hard on your pup’s feet.

“What that sanitizer does is it can make it more likely to crack and to be more sensitive to having their foot pads burned when they’re out on walks.”

Cracked paws more easily allow debris and other things dogs walk over to cause infections. Not to mention, it hurts them!

The Dangers Of Dogs Ingesting Hand Sanitizer

Beyond just damaging your dog’s paws, the larger danger is if dogs lick the chemicals. As you may know, dogs tend to lick their injuries. A dry, cracked paw might lead to a lick or two, which can be dangerous.

Emanuel Bjurhager via Flickr

Ingesting even a small amount of hand sanitizer can lead to digestive issues in dogs, including diarrhea and vomiting. Ethyl alcohol poisoning can also be fatal in dogs. If you think your dog has ingested any hand sanitizer at all, call your vet immediately.

Signs of ethyl alcohol poisoning include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Lack of coordination
  • Slow breathing
  • Slow reflexes

Clean Your Dog’s Paws Safely And Often

In general, cleaning your dog’s paws regularly is a good habit to pick up. Dr. Becker notes:

“I like people to clean their pet’s paws at least two to three times a week. If you’re walking them in a place that’s really dirty, it doesn’t hurt to wash, to clean them every day.”

Instead of using hand sanitizer, opt for a mild hand or dish soap on your dog’s paws. As long as it’s diluted, it should be fine Becker says. Some sanitizing wipes are specially made to be used on pets as well.

Just remember, we don’t walk around barefoot for a reason. But our dogs do, and their paw pads can be just as fragile (and get just as dirty) as a human’s.

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Featured Image: Engin Akyurt via Pexels

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