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If You're Gonna Dye Your Pet's Fur a Funky Shade, at Least Do It Safely

Rebecca Bracken is a news and views writer.






You probably shouldn't do it, but here's how to safely dye your dog's hair if you must

OK, there's no doubt about the fact that a dog with perfectly coiffed and dyed fur is adorable — but we can't fully enjoy the sight due to the nagging feeling in the pit of our stomachs that it just isn't good for the animal.

Pink and purple pets have been trending for a hot second, and for the most part, it seems to be safe. But does that make it right? We still can't really decide.

But what we do know is that if you are going to give into the trend and give dyeing your pet a go, you need to do it right. Take every measure to make sure that the coloring you're doing is safe. We know the last thing you want to do is harm your pet — so just proceed with caution.

More: Which Human Foods Can You Feed Your Dog?

Do not under any circumstances use hair color intended for humans on your pets. The chemicals in the hair color are toxic, and an animal's first instinct is to lick off anything foreign they come in contact with. 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 semi-permanent 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 a couple years back, 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.

More: If Your Dog's Bark Suddenly Changes, It Could Be the Sign of a Health Problem

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?

You probably shouldn't do it, but here's how to safely dye your dog's hair if you must
Image: Yvonna Groom/Sheknows

Originally published April 2015. Updated July 2017.

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