No, you don't have to stop using it.

By Jennifer Aldrich
July 29, 2020

Whether you carry it in your purse or your back pocket, a bottle of hand sanitizer is an item just about everyone has on them right now. Although hand washing is the preferred method of cleaning, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, sanitizers are the next best thing. They disinfect your hand in seconds, and they're portable, so you can carry a bottle of hand sanitizer if you're running errands. (With your mask on, of course.) However, hand sanitizers are toxic to dogs and cats. But that doesn't mean you have to throw away your bottle. Here's what you need to know about the disinfectant to help keep your furry friend safe.

owner putting sanitizing wipe on dog
Credit: Artur Debat/Getty Images

Should Pet Owners Be Using Hand Sanitizer?

The good news is yes, you and your pet should be completely safe as long as the owner is using hand sanitizer correctly. "The majority of hand sanitizers contain ethanol or ethyl alcohol, which usually doesn't appeal to pets due to the pungent smell and is not typically palatable to pets," says  Jennifer Freeman, DVM, resident veterinarian at PetSmart. "Pet parents typically don't need to worry about their pets becoming ill if they lick or are held by someone who applied sanitizer to their hands, especially if the product was allowed to dry first." (And if you're applying your sanitizer correctly, you should be rubbing it in thoroughly until it dries.)

Is Hand Sanitizer Safe for Pets?

No, you shouldn't be applying hand sanitizer to your dogs' or cats' paws. It can be dangerous for pets if it's absorbed through the skin or ingested in large amounts due to the alcohol content. "It's important to refrain from applying sanitizer to your pet's paws as it is not necessary, and you run the risk of your pet licking it off their paws," Freeman explains. If your pet somehow gets into a bottle of sanitizer, you need to get them to your vet immediately. "Ingesting any products containing alcohol can cause intoxication and signs of behavior changes, decreased coordination, depression, diarrhea, vomiting, difficulty breathing, and even death," Freeman warns.

As long as you're using the item correctly and not applying it to your dog or cat's paws, everything should be fine. Remember: Unless the product is specially made for pets, you shouldn't be using it on your pet.


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