A woman pours hand sanitizer into her cupped hand.

Is Hand Sanitizer Toxic to Dogs?

Hand sanitizer has become a staple in homes, cars, handbags, and offices. These alcohol-based solutions are great for keeping germs at bay, but they can also pose a danger to dogs 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 dogs.

Signs of Alcohol Poisoning in Dogs

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

Diagnosing Hand Sanitizer Toxicity in Dogs

If you suspect alcohol poisoning, contact your vet immediately. The longer you wait the more serious the condition can become, so do not wait or assume your dog will get better on their own. A diagnosis of alcohol poisoning usually reveals the following:

Treatment of Hand Sanitizer Toxicity in Dogs

Emergency veterinary care is necessary for dogs with alcohol poisoning. Treatment may include:

Home Care and Prevention

It is far easier to prevent hand sanitizer ingestion than it is to treat alcohol poisoning. Do not leave bottles of sanitizer within your dog’s reach, including travel bottles stored in or on purses or backpacks. Watch your dog closely, and call your veterinarian if you notice any unusual behavior. If you witness your dog ingesting ethanol, contact your veterinarian at once, even before the onset of any clinical signs. If you’re concerned about costs related to vet visits, click here to learn how pet insurance may be able to help.