Get Your Paws Off That Hand Sanitizer — Why You Shouldn't Disinfect Your Dog's Feet

August 2, 2020

As we enter our new normal, we can all agree that hand sanitizer, face masks, and disinfectant wipes have become the new checklist before leaving the house.

But the standards may not apply cross-species. Today reported that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a new warning about cleaning dogs’ paws.

“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,” the FDA tweeted.

Dr. Marty Becker, a veterinarian, told the outlet that putting hand sanitizer on dogs’ paws is potentially harmful because of its drying effects.

Becker added that applying sanitizer can be “strong enough to slough their foot pads.”

“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,” Becker said.

When the footpad cracks, Becker said that materials like feces, tar, and other debris could be trapped, leading to transmissible diseases.

Experts say a dog’s paw is as sensitive as a human hand. Becker said he sees dogs with burned paws due to walking on asphalt or hot concrete.

The other concern is ingesting hand sanitizer can be harmful to pets. Becker said dogs and other pets would likely be “reviled by the taste after a single lick.”

But it can be more serious than a question of bad taste. Ingesting a small amount can lead to digestive issues, including diarrhea and vomiting.

According to PetMD, here are some symptoms to look for in your pet:

- Drowsiness, lack of coordination or unconsciousness
- Involuntary urination or defecation
- Depression Increased excitement
- Slow reflexes
- Slowed breathing

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

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