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How to safely dye your pet's hair

Rebecca Bracken is a news and views writer.

There are safe ways to dye your pet's fur, but is it a good idea?

Primping and pampering is one of the most fun parts of being a pet parent, but one trend has animal lovers raising a fuss — dyeing an animal's fur for fashion.

Some of the planet's most stylish ladies — from Alessandra Ambrosio to Willow Smith — have been photographed with dogs dyed pink and purple, which has turned coloring pet fur a into a bona fide trend.

So, is it safe to dye your pet? For the most part, yes.

First, a common sense warning: Do not, under any circumstances, use hair color intended for humans on your pets. The chemicals in the hair color could be toxic to your pet. Also, the pH level of your pet's skin is very different from a human's, and your pet could have an adverse reaction. Really, don't do it.

Dyes that are safe for your pets

Food coloring

There are ways to dye your animal that are non-toxic. Food coloring or even natural dyes from foods (like beets for pink hair) are natural, non-toxic ways to add color to your dog's hair. Some people even recommend using food coloring to get your pet's hair the perfect shade.

Dyes for pets

There are also all sorts of semipermanent dyes on the market specifically made for pets, like these gels that come in all sorts of bright, fun colors.

Pet hair sprays

Just like you used to use at Halloween to get your hair that perfect shade of witch green, now you can get colored hair sprays to use on your pets for special occasions. It's advertised as completely non-toxic and washes off with soap and water.

Pet fur chalk

PetSmart and other groomers offer a "chalking" option that rubs colored "chalk" onto sections of the pet's hair to add a little touch of fun color.

But should you do it?

But even if there is a safe way to color your pet's hair, is it a good idea? Probably not. When Alessandra Ambrosio was spotted with her cute Bichon Frise dyed pink and purple, the animals rights group PETA was not pleased.

"What most people don’t know is that dyeing a companion animal’s fur can cause the animal stress and can lead to complications or allergic reactions that endanger the animal’s health," PETA's statement against dyeing animals. "Our dogs and cats love us regardless of how we look; why not extend the same kindness to them?"

A fair point, to be sure.

Dog Whisperer Cesar Milan also cautions against dyeing your animal's fur simply because of the added, unnecessary stress it places on it. Your pet doesn't know what's going on and can be confused and have a hard time adjusting to its zany new color.

Is the extra attention you might get out on the street with your colorful pet really worth the potential harm?

What do you think? Would you try dyeing your pet, or is it just plain cruel?

There are safe ways to dye your pet's fur, but is it a good idea?

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