Is Hand Sanitiser Bad for Dogs? (Warning)

A dog sitting next to a bottle of hand sanitiser
Keep out of reach from dogs

In this pandemic, using hand sanitiser regularly is probably the only way to stay healthy and safe. So, having a bottle or two of sanitiser at home is quite normal these days. Most people do not give a second thought to keeping the bottle on the coffee table or somewhere nearby you. But if you have a dog at home, you have to consider whether the sanitiser is safe for your dog as they can get hold of it from these places at any time. So, the question is whether sanitiser is toxic for your dog and what kind of treatment you should seek if your pet ingests sanitiser. 

Yes, ingesting sanitisers is dangerous for your dog. Most of the common sanitisers available on the market contain ethanol along with artificial fragrance and colours. All of which can be toxic to your pet dog. The veterinarians explain that the problems that can occur are mostly dose-dependent. That means the more sanitiser your dog has ingested, the worse the condition will be. Some dogs can suffer from alcohol poisoning just after consuming a small amount of sanitiser.

How Much Sanitiser Is Too Much?

How much is too much depends entirely on the amount they ingest compared to a dog’s weight, size, and health condition. These variables will affect the toxicity strength. For example, consuming a little sanitiser would not cause that much harm to the big dogs, like labradors. Still, the exact amount can cause significant health issues for a chihuahua. We must be careful and keep sanitiser out of reach of dogs. We know that if your dog ingests a considerable amount of hand sanitiser, it can become lethal for them. 

Symptoms of Alcohol Poisoning

If your dog ingests a significant amount of sanitiser, it will start showcasing all the symptoms of alcohol poisoning. Here are some common signs that you should watch out for in such situations. 

  • The odour of alcohol on the vomit or breath of your dog. 
  • Lack of coordination or staggered gait. 
  • Lethargy or significantly decreased activity. 
  • Excessive excitement for absolutely no reason. 
  • Depression. 
  • Urinary incontinence or excessive urination
  • Weak or slow respiratory rate. 
  • Reduced body temperature. 
  • Cardiac arrest. 

If You Notice the Signs of Hand Sanitiser Toxicity in Your Dog

If you notice any of the above symptoms of alcohol poisoning, you should get in touch with your vet immediately. The more you wait, the more serious the condition of your pet can become. So, do not wait to see if your pet will get better on its own. 

Home Care and Prevention

It is easier to prevent situations like sanitiser ingestion than to treat problems like alcohol poisoning. If you have a dog in your home, do not leave the bottle of the sanitisers in places where your dog can reach. Remove the travel-sized bottles of sanitisers out of your handbag and store them in safe places. Keep a close watch on your dog and contact your vet the moment you notice any unusual behaviour. If you are sure that your dog has ingested hand sanitiser, get in touch with your vet even if your dog is not showing any clinical symptoms. 

Other Products That Can Create The Same Kind of Poisoning In Your Dog

The symptoms the dogs showcase after ingesting sanitisers are caused by their concentrated alcohol content. Most of the sanitisers contain ethanol, the same kind of alcohol that wine and other alcoholic beverages have, which is dangerous for dogs. 

The interesting fact is that not only sanitisers do not contain this level of concentrated alcohol. Many other household objects have dangerous levels of alcohol, which can be harmful to your pet dog as well as your children. Even though most of these items are unpalatable, some of them, like cough syrups and mouthwash, contain pleasant flavours to encourage ingestion. 

Here is a list of things you should also securely store if you have a dog at home. 

  • Aftershave
  • Air fresheners
  • Colognes
  • Cold medicines
  • Disinfectants
  • Window and glass cleaners
  • Insect repellants
  • Perfumes
  • Pet Medicines
  • Spray paint
  • Hair spray

Recovering from Alcohol Poisoning

Keep the recovering pets in a quiet environment. To ensure a speedy recovery, make sure to complete the dosage of the prescribed medicine. Keep a bowl of freshwater near your dog. Even after your dog recovers from alcohol poisoning, you will need to re-visit your vet for a check to ensure that they have a healthy liver function. 

Never Use Hand Sanitisers on Your Dog

Many pet owners are using hand sanitisers or other types of disinfectant wipes to clean the paws, coats, and faces of their pets to stop the spread of COVID-19. However, it is a dangerous practice, and you should not use this method on your dog.

An ordinary dog bath using dog shampoo would be best.

If the hand sanitiser is applied directly on the scrapes, open wounds, and cuts of your pet, it can aggravate the condition significantly. The alcohol content of the sanitisers also makes the skin of your pet extremely dry and makes them vulnerable to various skin conditions. Also, your dog can develop alcohol poisoning if the sanitiser gets absorbed through its skin. 

Also, you should not use the disinfectant chemicals noted as alcohol-free on your dog as well. Most of the time, these elements contain benzalkonium chloride, which can cause an ulcer on the lips and tongues of your dog if it comes in contact with your dog. 

No one wants their dog to fall seriously ill. While you cannot control everything, you can certainly prevent the accidental ingestion of hand sanitisers and other cleaning supplies. Move these elements to the locked areas where your dogs cannot get any access. These preventive steps can keep the potential problems of toxic poisoning at bay.

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