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In the midst of applying lotion or while slathering on sunscreen poolside, keep an eye out for your furry friend- he or she may come to have a taste!

Wondering why your pooch or feline would want to lick these types of substances to begin with? Some dogs and cats seem to like the taste and smells of lotions and creams. Many are made with coconut, avocado and other enticing scents. However, many lotions contain medication, zinc, insect repellant and other ingredients dangerous for consumption by your pets. 

Lotions, Creams, and Body Washes

There are many types of lotions, creams, body washes and other sanitizing products pets may want to lick. Don’t be fooled into thinking they are innocuous just because you can purchase them without a prescription.

Many products intended for humans are not safe for pets and are certainly not meant to be ingested. Humans and canines are different species, and even though most topical over the counter creams and lotions will not cause your pets serious issues, some can. Discourage licking behavior to prevent any health problems from occurring.   

Although some of these creams, such as steroid and triple-antibiotic ointments for example, may be recommended by your veterinarian to use on your dog, you must follow directions given by your veterinarian and again, discourage licking behavior by your cat and dog. 

Treating a skin wound with a medication is quite different than ingesting it through the mucous membranes and stomach. 

Hand Sanitizer 

The FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine posted a warning1 about hand sanitizer:

'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.'

Additionally, hand sanitizers may contain:

  • Ethanol which can lead to alcohol poisoning
  • Benzalkonium chloride which is can be found in alcohol-free products resulting in hypersalivation and ulcers of the lips and tongue
  • Triclosan which may cause antibiotic resistance, skin cancer and has been reported to alter hormone regulation in animals
  • Methanol which has been reported to cause severe problems in humans; it is highly toxic and although it hasn’t been studied in dogs yet, err on the side of caution

It is important to remember that what is not absorbed through the paw pads and belly skin, will be ingested when your pet grooms.

If you have pets in the house at anytime, be sure to use pet-friendly agents for all your disinfecting needs.

Harmful if Ingested by Your Pets 

Should Fido run off with a tube or cannot resist licking your arm after you have applied any of types of these products, it would be best to call your veterinarian or poison control immediately. When calling, be sure to provide the name of the product, approximate amount of ingestion, and any side effects your dog or cat is experiencing.

While the container itself may become a choking hazard or intestinal obstruction, there are other dangers personal use products can cause our pets:

 

PRODUCT

HUMAN USE

SIGNS & SYMPTOMS

5-fluorouracil, 5-FU and Efudex

Treat solar keratosis, skin cancer

Vomiting, diarrhea, uncontrollable seizures, bone marrow suppression

Anti-fungal cream

Athlete’s foot, nail fungus, yeast infections

Vomiting, diarrhea

Calamine lotion

Poison Ivy and other itches

Zinc poisoning: vomiting & diarrhea (potentially with blood), breathing difficulty, jaundice/liver damage (yellowing of the whites of the eyes, gums, inner ear flaps and other mucous membranes)

Diaper rash ointment

Treat diaper rash

Zinc poisoning (see above)

Hormone creams (estrogen, progesterone, testosterone)

Endocrin disrupter

Mammary gland enlargement, false pregnancy

Minoxidil/Rogaine

Hair regrowth but was initially invented to regulate blood pressure

Fluid buildup in lungs resulting in heart failure!  Vomiting & lethargy are early signs.

Moisturizers

Adding moisture, softness and a pleasant scent to the skin

Drooling, vomiting and diarrhea. These products contain humectants and emollients which become oily when they make contact with the stomach causing various degrees of gastrointestinal distress.

Muscle-ache creams

Pain relief

Aspirin-like compounds (Salicylates) can cause bloody vomiting and even stomach ulcers while those containing menthol and capsaicin can also irritate the GI tract.

Steroid creams (hydrocortisone)

Itchy skin

Vomiting, diarrhea, increased thirst, urination, heavy panting

Sunscreen

Prevent sunburn

Stomach distress but many contain zinc oxide (see above)

Triple-antibiotic creams/ointments

Cuts, scrapes, wounds

Vomiting and diarrhea

Vitamin A creams (retinoids)

Treat acne

Stomach upset and birth defects in developing puppies

Vitamin D creams (Calcipotriene, brand name Dovonex)

Treat psoriasis

Vomiting, kidney failure, death!

When the worst happens, have your veterinarian or poison control on speed dial, and do all you can for your precious furry family member.

Consider Investing in Pet Insurance 

Looking for more ways to keep your pets happy and healthy? Consider investing in a pet insurance policy with MetLife Pet Insurance.1  We offer dog insurance and cat insurance policies for your furry family members.  Get your free quote today. 

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Nothing in this article should be construed as financial, legal or veterinary advice. Please consult your own advisors for questions relating to your and your pet’s specific circumstances.

1 Pet Insurance offered by MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is underwritten by Independence American Insurance Company (“IAIC”), a Delaware insurance company, headquartered at 485 Madison Avenue, NY, NY 10022, and Metropolitan General Insurance Company (“MetGen”), a Rhode Island insurance company, headquartered at 700 Quaker Lane, Warwick, RI 02886, in those states where MetGen’s policies are available. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is the policy administrator authorized by IAIC and MetGen to offer and administer pet insurance policies. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC was previously known as PetFirst Healthcare, LLC and in some states continues to operate under that name pending approval of its application for a name change. The entity may operate under an alternate, assumed, and/or fictitious name in certain jurisdictions as approved, including MetLife Pet Insurance Services LLC (New York and Minnesota), MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions Agency LLC (Illinois), and such other alternate, assumed, or fictitious names approved by certain jurisdictions.

“People are Putting Hand Sanitizer on their Dogs’ Paws:  Here’s Why You Shouldn’t,” Christopher Cicchiello