Is Hand Sanitizer Bad for Dogs? (& What to Do if They Eat it)

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While trying to remain safe and healthy, you keep hand sanitizer on hand, but you didn't think twice about keeping it underneath the sink or on a coffee table. That was until your dog got a hold of it. Now, you may be wondering if hand sanitizer is toxic and whether your dog needs to seek emergency treatment if they consumed some.

Hopefully, you won't ever find yourself in this situation. However, if you do notice that your dog ate hand sanitizer, this guide will walk you through what to do next.

What Ingredients Are in Hand Sanitizer?

The most common ingredient found in hand sanitizer is ethanol alcohol — the same ingredient that's in beer, wine and liquor — which can be dangerous for dogs to ingest. Depending on the hand sanitizer, it may contain 60% to 95% ethanol by volume.

What Happens If My Dog Consumes Hand Sanitizer?

If you think your pup got into your stash of hand sanitizer, you're probably afraid that it is toxic to them. The question of toxicity all depends on how much they ate. There is little cause for concern if they simply lick your hands after you've applied hand sanitizer. Consuming more than a lick's worth, however, could cause more serious issues for your dog.

So how much hand sanitizer is too much for a pup to consume? The answer depends on the size, health and weight of the dog in question. However, as the American Kennel Club (AKC) notes, "The amount of ethanol needed to cause intoxication varies depending on its concentration in the substance ingested." Hand sanitizer can be lethal for dogs if enough is ingested, so if you suspect your dog has gotten into some, call your veterinarian or the pet poison control hotline right away.

What Symptoms Should You Watch Out For?

Even if your pup hasn't gotten into your hand sanitizer, it's a good idea to know the symptoms they may display if they do ingest any type of ethanol alcohol. According to the AKC, the most common symptoms a dog will experience when they've ingested too much alcohol are:

  • Lethargy
  • Incoordination
  • Drooling
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness
  • Collapsing
  • Decreased respiratory rate
  • Low blood sugar
  • Low blood pressure
  • Low body temperature

When Should You Get Help for Your Dog?

Contact your veterinarian as soon as you suspect that your dog has eaten hand sanitizer. They will likely ask you what type of hand sanitizer your dog consumed and the ingredients listed on the packaging. They will also ask about how much they might have consumed. Depending on those answers, they might suggest that you bring them to the clinic.

No one wants to worry about their pet falling seriously ill. Take a moment to scan your house for potential toxins, such as alcohol, hand sanitizer and cleaning supplies, and move them to high or locked areas that your dog can't access them. By taking these preventive steps, you can keep your pup safe and avoid potential toxic problems.

Contributor Bio

Erin Ollila

Erin Ollila

Erin Ollila is a pet enthusiast who believes in the power of words and how a message can inform — and even transform — its intended audience. Her writing can be found all over the internet and in print, and includes interviews, ghostwriting, blog posts, and creative nonfiction. Erin is a geek for SEO and all things social media. She graduated from Fairfield University with an M.F.A. in creative writing. Reach out to her on Instagram @ErinOllila or learn more about her at http://erinollila.com.

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