Why You Shouldn't Put Hand Sanitizer On Your Dog's Paws

Loving dog owners will do anything to keep their best friends safe. Unfortunately, some pet owners have attempted to use human safety practices on their dogs. The FDA recently tweeted a warning about using hand sanitizer on your dog's paws, saying, "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." 

According to veterinarian Dr. Marty Becker, hand sanitizer can dry out your dog's paws (via Today). "Especially now with COVID, people take [dogs] out to basically do the New York Marathon, and so you get lots of issues with their foot pads and overheating and respiratory problems," he said. "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."

When a dog's paws are cracked, irritants can make their way into the bloodstream, even causing a bacterial disease called Leptospirosis (via CDC). It's also important to note that if a dog ingests even a small amount of hand sanitizer, they run the risk of getting ethyl alcohol poisoning. If you suspect this may have happened, contact your vet ASAP.

How to keep your dogs safe and clean

Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to protect your pets. While hand sanitizer is not safe for dog paws, Becker still recommends cleaning them a few times a week. His product recommendation: Rescue Animal Health Disinfectant Wipes. But wipes aren't your only option. According to the American Kennel Club, nothing gets your dog cleaner than a bath. For bigger dogs, a detachable shower head can get out the grime. Do a quick check for any debris between their toes, then send them off to play.

Still worried about keeping Fido virus-free? Check out the CDC's comprehensive tips for how to keep your pets safe, although it's worth noting their risk of contracting coronavirus is low. Still, just like humans are practicing social distancing, dogs should, too. The CDC recommends keeping leashed dogs six feet away from other people. If someone in your family becomes sick, quarantine them away from your dog. Don't worry about your dog keeping a mask on; the CDC doesn't recommend that dogs wear one. Use that hand sanitizer on your own paws after handling your dog's food or waste.