Ever since I got a dog two years ago, I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time obsessing over possible outfits to dress him up in. When it comes to Halloween, especially, I’ve considered everything from a full unisuit to a dyed hot pink mohawk. But I’ve never actually gone the dyed mohawk route. Which it turns out might be a good thing. According to a recent post on Facebook, using human hair dye on animals can be dangerous.
Earlier this week, Pinellas County Animal Services shared a series of heartbreaking photos of a 5-pound Maltese named Violet. Though Animal Services didn’t share exactly how they came to be looking after Violet, it was clear the pup needed the team’s help.
“Violet’s eyes were swollen shut, she was limp and listless, she had obvious burns to her skin,” the Pinellas County team wrote on Facebook.
The animal services team gave Violet fluids, pain medication and a good wash before bandaging Violet up and sending her home with the team vet. To their surprise, the small dog made it through the night—but she then faced three months of recovery as her skin peeled off and she underwent antibiotics, anesthesia, fluids and bandage changes.
Pinellas County Animal Services shared some of the heart-wrenching pictures of her recovery on Facebook (warning—pictures are graphic):
Fortunately, Violet recovered beautifully and is now in a new home with a wonderful owner. However, there’s one thing everyone should take away from her story: Do not use human hair dye on pets.
“Chemicals in hair dye are TOXIC causing a wide array of external injury to your pet — possible burns, blindness and because an animal’s first instinct is to lick, it can cause poisoning or internal burns,” Pinellas County Animal Services wrote in its Facebook post. “Just don’t.”
Hair dyes for humans are never safe for pets, and some non-profit organizations, like the RSPCA and PETA, have recommended against any pet dyeing at all, saying that the potential for injury—such as water in the dog’s ears, a dangerous allergic reaction or unnecessary psychological stress—can never quite be eliminated. However, others say the practice is okay if handled safely, and that as long as your dog isn’t bothered by the practice, there’s nothing to worry about.
If you do want to experiment with your dog’s fur, definitely speak to your dog’s vet first, and use only pet-safe hair dye for dogs. Follow all instructions, and watch carefully for any signs of irritation. Some pet owners recommend using food coloring as a safe dye alternative for animals as well, but you’ll definitely want to get the A-OK from your dog’s vet before you experiment with any dye recommendations you see online.
Personally, if I ever do decide to dress my dog up with a mohawk on Halloween, I’ll definitely be swinging by our veterinary office first. And who knows? Maybe clip-ins will look even better.