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At pet-friendly Halloween events around the country, you’re bound to come across at least a few dogs with colored hair, whether it’s a Samoyed posing as Pikachu, a Maltese with soft pink ears, or a Pomeranian with pops of color on her cheeks. Dog fur dye can be safe and fun, as long as you follow these important tips we picked up from groomers and pet parents in the know.
Dog fur dye comes along with some strong opinions! Some love it, some hate it, and some think it’s just plain silly. We’ll let you make up your own mind, and arm you with the best information before you try it.
Why dye your dog’s fur?
Many dog lovers dye their pup’s fur simply because they think it makes them look sweet. There are usually a plethora of colorful, rainbow-inspired coats at any Pride Parade or at costume parties to help Poodles and other dogs get into character.
But sometimes dog owners color their pet’s fur for other reasons. For example, Esther and Shimmy from My Bestie Charlie, whose pup Charlie is pictured above, say, “We dye Charlie’s ears pink to make him look like a cute cartoon character. He is a therapy dog and we want him to seem more fun and approachable to kids who may be afraid. Now he’s so easily distinguishable by his pink ears that it’s become his trademark.”
Is coloring a dog’s fur safe?
Yes, as long as you use dog-safe products.
- NEVER use human hair dye: NEVER. These dyes can be toxic if ingested, which is likely to happen considering how much pups love to lick their fur. Human hair dye also contains chemicals that are suited for the pH level of the human body which is completely different from that of a dog! The folks at Vet Info say, “Do not use products made for humans. This cannot be stressed enough. Human hair dyes contain hydrogen peroxide or bleach to lift the natural color. Both chemicals are extremely harsh and can cause chemical burns, sores and dog hair shedding.” Yikes!
- Keep the dye a safe distance away from their eyes and mouth: Again, you don’t want the dye (even if it’s canine-friendly and non-toxic) irritating your furry friend. Make sure to avoid your dog’s eyes and other sensitive body parts.
- Hire a professional: Don’t really know why you’re doing? Don’t risk it—get a well-respected, responsible professional groomer to dye your dog’s locks for you.
- Does your pooch have sensitive skin? Best to skip the dye to avoid a possible allergic reaction: Instagram user mdr_grooms says, “If your dog has sensitive skin I would 100% avoid using [dye] to be safe. Always make sure to test it at least 24 hours before dyeing the entire fur.”
- Stop immediately if your dog is showing signs of stress: No amount of colorful cuteness is worth making your dog an anxious mess. You love them too much for that!
In regards to fur dye safety, the folks from My Bestie Charlie say, “We chose to limit the color to his ears so that A: he can’t access the area if he wanted to lick it, and B: because the hair is long enough that the tips can be colored without ever touching his actual skin.”
And don’t forget, you can always ask your veterinarian if they have any suggestions for pet-friendly hair dye—plus, you’re probably going to want to ask for their opinion about this whole thing anyway.
Are there different kinds of dyes?
Yes, there are in fact a few different ways to color your dog’s fur—and dog people tend to be big fans of certain ones. Here are some of the most popular ones that we’ve discovered in our research:
- Food Coloring: Most sources agree that food coloring is the safest and most recommended way to dye your dog’s hair, especially since they’re non-toxic and sourced from fruits, vegetables, flowers, and herbs. There are also plenty of colors available—orange, yellow, green, pink and more. Generally, this can be mixed with water and applied via a spray bottle to the dog’s hair!
- Blow Pens/Hair Spray: These pet-friendly pens blow hair dye onto your dog’s fur and can even be used with stencils.
- Canine Dog Dye: These are special canine-friendly dyes that you can get online, at pet stores, or you can ask your groomer for recommendations. These are often available in gel form or in liquid versions—just make sure to always read the instructions carefully.
- Fur Chalk: Fur chalk is a canine-friendly colored chalk that can be applied directly on dry fur, or can be applied by making a paste with water. The application process can be a little more time-consuming than some of the others, but lots of people say fur chalk is their favorite dog dye option, and it tends to wash out pretty easily with dog shampoo.
The groomers at Washpaw add, “All-natural and organic dyes formulated for use on pets are for the most part safe. These products do not include the harmful toxins and chemicals found in most regular human hair dyes. However, professionals recommend the use of dyes on a sporadic basis only. This includes special occasions you may want to have some extra fun with your pet, like Halloween festivities.”
So basically—no matter how “pet-friendly” the dye, you don’t want to overdo it.
What do the dogs think about it?
Your pup may take a huge dislike to having their hair dyed, in which case you should definitely listen to them and refrain from coloring their hair. After all, their wellbeing is more important than having them win that costume contest.
But then again, some dogs do love the attention and adoration they receive from their luscious locks. In fact, Lily Poof Von Cuteness (pictured in the Instagram post above), is a big fan. Her owner says, “We had her fur done at the doggie salon to match my own hair. It was fun and I think Lily enjoyed all the attention and joy it brought to people’s faces. Even though I’m proficient at dying my own hair, I always feel better letting a professional do my dog’s fur.”
Popular and safe dog dye
If you are interested in experimenting with pet hair dye and fun colors, these are some of the best-known dog-safe brands.
People seem to love this fur dye—apparently, the colors are bold and bright! Just be careful—it’s a permanent one, so it’ll last many washes.
Helpful Review: “It works great! I was a little nervous at first that it wouldn’t look right. But it is very vibrant. The longer you leave it in the more vibrant pigmentation you will get. I left it on for about 20 minutes and it looks awesome. Only downside is YOU MUST WEAR GLOVES!”
This semi-permanent hair dye is gentle on a dog’s skin, completely non-toxic, and lasts around 4 to 6 washes.
Helpful Review: “I love this doggie hair color. My sweet little dog gets her ears colored pink. It will stain your fingers for a few hours. I rub it on my Maltese’s dry ears and tail then let sit for about 10 minutes for a softer pink or 20 minutes for a hot pink.”
This fur dye is super-easy to use and can last anywhere from a couple of days to a few weeks.
Helpful Review: “This was so much fun. I used it on my Maltese’s tail. I’ve gotten so many compliments and everyone wants to know where I got it from. I’m happy to tell them I got it at Chewy!”