10 Beauty Products That Could Harm Your Pet

A man with a dog takes care of facial skin at home. A guy and a golden retriever put on a clay face mask. The concept of male health and beauty, cosmetology, body and skin care.

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When it comes to beauty products that could harm your pet, it’s no surprise that there are many out there. In fact, a lot of those products can harm humans too! According to research from the University of Notre Dame, about 50% of cosmetics sold in the U.S. contain toxic chemicals. But even the safe, natural stuff can still be harmful to your pets. 

Read on to find out why you need to stick with your dog grooming products and avoid leaving your personal care products in snout’s reach. Here are some of the most common beauty products that could be harmful to your pet and what you should use instead:

1) Shampoo 

Shampoo is a double threat when it comes to your pets. First, if you’re concerned with dog skincare and coat health, you’ll avoid human shampoo as an option for washing them at all costs. Why? Because human shampoo is made for our different pH levels and can throw off the natural balance of a dog’s skin. They can also strip natural oils that protect against infection and disease and leave your dog’s skin dry and flaky under their coat.

Human shampoo is also dangerous if consumed, even if many ingredients are non-toxic. Detergent poisoning, resulting from the anionic or nonionic surfactants (ingredients that make shampoo sudsy), is the most common type of poisoning in dogs from shampoos. The symptoms of this kind of poisoning include vomiting, diarrhea, increased heart rate, and drooling. So what should you use instead? Choose a dog-specific shampoo that has been pH balanced for their skin and coat. Opting for a dog shampoo formulated for dogs with sensitive skin is an even better choice.

2) Hair Conditioner

Hair conditioner is another beauty product that can be harmful to your pet if consumed. Some hair conditioners contain emollients or silicone-based ingredients that can be very harmful if your pet ingests them. Emollients are used to lubricate surfaces and make the product easier to spread. Still, they can cause vomiting and diarrhea if consumed by your pet. Silicone-based ingredients can also cause problems if ingested, leading to blockages in the intestines.

Like the shampoo situation, you don’t want to use human hair conditioner for your pup. It can cause the same problems as using human shampoo on your dog, including throwing off their natural pH balance and stripping away important oils. So what should you do instead? When recommended by your groomer, choose a dog-specific conditioner that will be gentle on their skin and coat. Make sure to rinse thoroughly to avoid any irritation. 

3) Body Wash & Bar Soap

Body wash and bar soap are other products that you should avoid using on your pet for the same reasons as shampoo and conditioner. They can strip away natural oils, throw off the pH balance, and cause irritation.

Many of these products now have essential oils incorporated in them to give them their enticing fragrances. Unfortunately for our pets, essential oils can be toxic to them. Even diffusing essential oils in your home can be harmful to your pets, so it’s essential to be aware of which to avoid. The ASPCA has a handy database of toxic and poisonous plants for pets that can be searched to determine if the essential oil you’re using presents a danger to your pet. So what should you do instead? Check out our notes above about dog shampoo and dog conditioner. 


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5) Lotions, Handcreams, and Topical Ointments

This is a mixed bag. Again, it depends on what the product was scented with when considering whether it will be toxic to your dog or cat. However, the majority will cause stomach irritation and possible vomiting if consumed. And because these products are often applied to our skin, our pets can lick them off and ingest them that way.

Lotions, hand creams, and topical ointments can also pose a danger to your pet if they are medicinal in nature, containing steroids or antibiotics. If you must use these products around your pets, keep them out of reach and apply them in areas where your pet cannot lick them off.

6) Nail Polish & Nail Polish Remover

Like many beauty products, nail polish and nail polish remover can be toxic to our pets if consumed. They often contain ingredients like toluene and xylene, which can cause liver and kidney damage if ingested. Keep these products out of reach of your pets at all times.

7) Perfumes and Colognes

Most perfumes and colognes are ethanol-based. This is an alcohol that can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and central nervous system depression if consumed in large enough quantities. However, some dogs and cats may show ethanol poisoning from being in close vicinity when the perfume is sprayed or when licking it off their owner’s skin. Be on the lookout for drowsiness and lack of coordination. You must never use human perfumes and colognes on animals for this reason, no matter how bad they smell. Pets can quickly lick these products off their fur and ingest them, causing severe health problems.

8) Toothpaste and Mouth Wash/Rinse

Your oral health needs are not the same as those for your dog or cat. For example, toothpaste for humans often contains ingredients not suitable for pets like fluoride, sodium lauryl sulfate, and xylitol. These ingredients can cause stomach upset and irritation, vomiting, and diarrhea. And, in the case of xylitol, it can even cause liver failure and even death in pets. Mouthwashes and rinses also often contain alcohol, usually ethanol, menthol, eucalyptol, and other ingredients that can be toxic to your pets.

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If your dog or cat has bad breath or you’re interested in improving their oral hygiene, speak to your vet or groomer about safe products to use. There are many dog toothpastes out there that will do the job and do it safely.

9) Hair Dye

Hair dye is yet another beauty product that can be dangerous to pets, especially if consumed. The ingredients in hair dye, like ammonia and hydrogen peroxide, can cause stomach and intestinal upset and central nervous system depression.

Additionally, hair dye often comes in individual packets that can be appealing to dogs and cats because of the sound they make when chewed on or played with. However, if your pet punctures one of these packets, they can easily ingest the hair dye and become very sick. For that reason, keep all hair dye products well out of reach of your pets at all times.

10) Bath Bombs

Anyone who has used bath bombs knows how amazing they can be. After a long week of work and family obligations, relaxing in the tub and enjoying a bath bomb’s soothing scents and colors can be a real treat. But did you know that these products can be harmful to your pets?

Bath bombs often contain essential oils, Epsom salts, citric acid, and sodium bicarbonate. While these ingredients are safe for humans, they can cause stomach upset, vomiting, and diarrhea in pets. And, as we’ve already mentioned, most essential oils are a big NO, leading to tons of issues when licked or inhaled. Additionally, the fragrances in bath bombs can be overwhelming for your pet’s sensitive nose and cause respiratory irritation. If you must use bath bombs, do so when your pet is not around to avoid potential problems.

Out of Reach or Not at All

When choosing and storing your beauty care and personal care products, always keep your pets in mind. Many of these products can be harmful, even deadly if ingested or inhaled. The best way to protect your pet is to keep all beauty products out of reach, in a locked cabinet or closet. And when it comes to essential oils and other fragrance-based products, it’s best to avoid them altogether.

Plenty of pet-safe products on the market will get the job done without putting your furry friend at risk. So do your research, read labels, and make the best choices for you and your pet.

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