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Is It Safe to Dye Your Dog’s Hair?

Dyeing a dog's fur


Whether it’s for Halloween, a sporting event, or another special occasion, many people opt to give their pup’s coat a colorful makeover. You might see a bright pink poodle or a purple and gold chihuahua. But is it safe to dye your dog’s hair?

If you’re determined to dye your dog’s hair, it’s critical to only use products specifically designed for dogs and avoid permanent dyes. Never use human hair dyes on your pets, as they can contain chemicals and other ingredients that pose risks to dogs. Some safe options people use are natural food coloring, Kool-Aid, or fur chalk.

Before you dye your pup’s hair, decide if it’s 100% necessary. Is it worth going through the process? If you decide yes, then make sure you choose mild, safe methods and products.

What Can You Use to Safely Dye Your Dog’s Hair?

The most important thing you need to know is don't use human hair dye products to dye your dog's fur. These human products can be harmful to your pets. They also often contain various ingredients like bleach or hydrogen peroxide. These ingredients can lead to chemical burns and other issues, from skin irritation to increased pet shedding.

Instead, if you plan to dye your dog's hair, use one of the following methods.

1. Natural Food Coloring

Find natural food coloring options made with fruits and vegetables or flowers to dye your dog’s fur. You can mix these into water and apply them to your pup’s hair with a spray bottle. 

Verify that the coloring you choose is non-toxic before applying it to your pup. Also, ensure it dries before turning your pup loose, so the dye doesn’t rub off on your furniture, clothing, etc.

2. Kool-Aid

Using Kool-Aid to dye your dog’s fur is another safe option. However, it typically works best on white pups or those with lighter-colored fur. The color will remain for a couple of weeks but fade over time. Therefore, keep this in mind when you use Kool-Aid to dye your dog.

Buy the small sugar-free packs of Kool-Aid, and clean your dog’s coat first. You can mix the Kool-Aid in water or a doggy conditioner. Use a toothbrush to apply it to the fur and let the hair dry with the dye on it. Once it’s dry, give your pup a rinse.

3. Fur Chalk

If you prefer a very temporary way to color your pup’s fur, consider using dog-friendly fur chalk. You can apply it directly to your dog’s coat or mix it with water to form a paste. You can wash it out easily with doggy shampoo.

4. Dog-Specific Hair Dyes

You can always purchase pet-friendly hair dye that is especially for animals. You can find various types, usually as a liquid or a gel. A good place to get some recommendations is your pup’s groomer. 

No matter which dye you choose, make sure to follow the directions on the label. Depending on the dye, it might last for a few days or up to four or five shampoos.

Another type of dog-friendly hair dye comes in a pen form. You apply them by blowing through the pen (similar to kids’ craft pens). These are good options if you want to add a specific colorful design to your pup’s fur. You can use a stencil and blow pen to only apply the color to the designated area.

Poodle with dyed ears

Follow These Tips if You Decide to Dye Your Dog’s Hair

Are you ready to add some color to your pup’s fur? Make sure to follow these tips when dying your dog’s hair.

  1. Protect your dog’s eyes and face. Your best bet is to avoid applying dye to your dog’s face. However, if you plan to do so, apply a protective doggy eye ointment to the inside corner of each eye and on the eyebrows to help protect their peepers. Be careful not to get any product directly in your dog’s eyes, nose, mouth, ears, etc.
  2. Don’t shy away from asking for help. Safety should always be a top priority. Therefore, if you’re unsure of your skills or nervous, ask a reputable groomer to do the job.
  3. Do a patch test. Before you dye a whole bunch of your pup’s fur, test a small area at least 24 hours before. If your dog has sensitive skin or an allergic reaction, do not dye their fur. Signs of a reaction include swollen skin, redness, bumpsand itchiness.
  4. Listen to your dog. Many dogs can be totally chill with getting a colorful makeover. But, if your dog gets anxious or stressed at any time during the process, stop. Your dog’s well-being always comes first.
  5. Don’t let your dog lick the dye. You might want to put a cone on your pup during the application so they don’t ingest any of the dye. Wait until it’s dry before removing the cone.
  6. Provide your pup with a distraction. Provide something to do during the process to help pass the time for your dog. For example, a lick mat covered in tasty peanut butter helps your dog stay calm. Plus, it keeps them engaged and from trying to lick the dye.
  7. Start small. If you’re coloring your dog's hair for the first time, don’t go for a full-body application. Start with something small, like the tail or a stripe on their back. This minor application can let you see how your dog reacts to the process.

What Are the Disadvantages of Coloring Your Dog’s Fur?

It’s always important to arm yourself with knowledge when doing anything with your pets. Before you color your dog’s fur, there are a few things to consider.

1. It Might Be Illegal!

In most states in the US, you’re free and clear to dye your dog’s fur with no issues. However, a few states consider the task a misdemeanor, and you could face fines or even risk losing your pup.

Colorado, Florida, Maine, and South Carolina all have laws about dying dogs’ fur. In many cases, you could face charges even if you’re simply passing through the state with your colorful pup. 

However, some claim the laws are older and not consistently enforced. In other situations, the law might only apply to dying your dog for show or sale. But, better to be safe than sorry.

2. Your Dog Might Not Like It

Your dog might not be a happy camper if you try to color their fur. If they have sensitive skin, it could cause irritation or other issues. This is why you should always test a small area first and be ever-vigilant regarding your dog’s behavior. Your dog gets to have the final say.

3. It Could Be Messy

You could be in for a mess if you don’t know what you’re doing or have an energetic pup. Hair dye can stain clothing, furniture, towels, etc. Make sure to properly prep the area before attempting to dye your dog’s fur. Or, take them to the groomer for the application.

Final Look at Coloring Your Dog’s Fur

Adding color to your dog’s fur can be fun for you and your pup if you do it safely. However, always ensure your dog is on board and stop if they show signs of stress or irritation. Always use dog-friendly dyes or natural products like food coloring, and avoid using human products at all costs.

Talk to your groomer if you’re unsure how to go about dying your dog’s fur. They can ensure that the job is done correctly and safely. If you need a professional groomer, you can ask your vet, friends, or family or use sites like Start small, perhaps just a dash of color on your pup’s tail if it's your first time.

For more helpful tips and resources about being a fantastic pet parent, check out the rest of our blog. We’re always adding fresh ideas and info so you can stay on top of the latest ways to care for your furry friends.


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