A cat sitting in a windowsill staring down at a small bottle of green hand sanitizer.

Is Hand Sanitizer Toxic to Cats?

Hand sanitizer can be toxic at cats. Hand sanitizer has become a staple in homes, cars, handbags, offices, restroom and even when you enter supermarkets. These alcohol-based solutions are great for keeping germs at bay, but they can also pose a danger to animals that encounter them.
The majority of hand sanitizers on the market contain ethanol (a type of alcohol used for sanitization) in addition to artificial colors and fragrances. Ingestion of these materials can cause what veterinarians call dose dependent symptoms; that is, the more sanitizer ingested, the worse the symptoms will be. Just a small amount of sanitizer can induce alcohol poisoning in some pets.

Dogs tend to chew on and lick/eat the bottle but cats more frequently walk through a spilled bottle or are petted by owners with hand sanitizer on their hands. Cats then lick/groom their paws thus ingesting the toxin.

Signs of alcohol poisonings in cats include behavioral changes, collapse, depression or lethargy, and even death.

Signs of Alcohol Toxicity in Cats

Diagnosing Alcohol Poisoning in Cats

If you suspect alcohol poisoning in your cat, contact your vet immediately. The longer you wait the more serious the condition can become, so do not wait or assume your cat will get better on their own.

A diagnosis of alcohol poisoning usually reveals the following:

Treatment of Hand Sanitizer Toxicity in Cats

Emergency veterinary care is necessary for cats with alcohol poisoning.

Treatment from your veterinarian may include: