WOOF, are you thinking of dying your dog’s hair? Please read this before making the decision!
Whether you’re in Taipei or New York City, it doesn’t take too long until you stumble upon a fluffy Poodle (or Poodle-hybrid) strutting along the bustling city streets rocking some bright-colored, eye-catching hair. As altering hair colors on dogs are sure to turn heads and generate a chuckle or two, many dog pawrents have jumped on this global trend of showing off colorful furkids. And yet, this trend escalates on any given holiday – think hot pink and red dyes on Valentine’s Day, orange and black dyes for Halloween, or blue, red, and white dyes for July 4th. Many of these “dyed” dogs may also rock bizarre hair designs, from heart-shaped backs to wavy side bangs to even your favorite Disney character.
Before you decide to join the dog fur-dying frenzy, you must fully understand the staggering impact of altering your dog’s natural hair color. Keep on sniffing!
*For simplicity purposes, the gender of the word “dog” will be in the masculine form (“he” or “him”) throughout this post.
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Human hair dyes are harmful to animals PERIOD
Despite the fact that human hair dyes are toxic to dogs, such harmful products are often used by irresponsible dog pawrents who simply don’t know any better. To achieve a certain unique look or aesthetic preferences for their dogs, these selfish pawrents impulsively slap chemicals and substances onto their dog’s hair without doing their due diligence or thorough research. Sadly, there have been many incidents of burns (both external and internal), injuries, and even deaths when permanent human hair dyes are used on dogs. As we know, incidents of animal cruelty are usually underreported so one can only imagine the reality.
PLEASE DO NOT DYE YOUR DOG’S HAIR WITH HUMAN HAIR DYE, or any type of permanent hair dye.
What about “pet-safe” or “non-toxic” hair dyes?
With the rising use of supposedly “non-toxic” (or even vegan) dyes such as Kool-Aid, food coloring, color sprays, color gels, and even chalks, is it then safe to dye your dog’s hair? And, what if you’re only allowing an experienced professional dog groomer to undertake this mission?
Even though such “non-toxic” dyes have flooded the market and made claims to be safe on your dog, there is NO GUARANTEE. Depending on skin sensitivity, allergies, healing or open wounds (if any), and overall health and temperament, your dog may or may not be more susceptible to “non-toxic” or “pet-safe” dyes. All in all, every dog may have a different reaction to exposure to dyes.
To date, official “dog-safe” dyes don’t exist. It’s not like the Food & Drug Administration has approved a set of dyes that are deemed safe for dogs (or animals). So, what you have are dyes that are potentially safe on your dog – when properly used. But who knows what the result will be? The real question is – Are you willing to risk the health and safety of your beloved furry family member just to get some attention from strangers?
What if your veterinarian approves the dye?
What if your veterinarian has been using dyes on dogs for years and can attest to the safety for usage? What if you plan to protect your dog’s eyes with a sterile ophthalmic ointment to prevent possible irritation? Also, what if your dog has no known skin allergies? And, your professional groomer has been dying dogs’ hair for ages?
Is it then safe to dye your dog’s hair?
In short, NO!
Here’s the reality: Even if it’s likely safe on your dog, “non-toxic” or “pet-safe” hair dyes can still cause skin irritation or harm when ingested. Again, you must recognize that there’s always a risk that your dog will have an adverse reaction to the dye, however “safe” it has been deemed by others. If you plan to dye your dog regularly (say a few times a year), please understand that the long-term effects of “non-toxic” dyes on animals have not been thoroughly researched. Just because they’re “non-toxic” doesn’t necessarily mean that these dyes cannot generate long-term detrimental effects. Would you feel comfortable if you’ve perhaps contributed to your dog’s chronic or life-threatening illness in the long run? My guess would be NO.
Is it morally OK to dye your dog?
Besides safety concerns, there’s also the question of ethics. Is it morally right for you to alter the color of a dog’s hair? If your dog had a choice, I can assure you that he’d say no. Even if he loves getting more attention from his new look, I can promise you that he’d rather get the extra attention WITHOUT changing his natural hair color. No one wants to be a “circus” or “zoo” animal whose sole existence is to amuse humans.
In addition, forcing your dog to stay still for hours while you experiment dye on him can cause physical discomfort, confusion, and psychological distress. Even if you’ve trained your dog to relax or even enjoy the fur dye process, it doesn’t necessarily make it right. Essentially, just because your dog eventually gets used to the process doesn’t justify your actions.
Furthermore, since dying your dog’s hair changes the smell of his fur, it may also change the interaction with other dogs (and animals), especially if a substantial amount of dye is used. The larger dye exposure, the stronger the scent will last on your dog.
But, of course, you cannot make your dog consent to everything in his life – from rabies vaccines to life-saving surgeries to leash walking, there are countless things that dogs would probably bark a big loud NO if given a choice. HOWEVER, the difference here is quite apparent – as a responsible dog pawrent, you must make sound decisions for the health and safety of your precious dog. A huge difference exists between necessity and desire.
On the other hand, when you decide to dye your dog’s hair, you’re purely doing so for your own amusement (and the amusement of others); simply put, your dog’s well-being is not prioritized when you proceed with dying your dog’s hair.
Dying your dog’s hair perpetuates animal abuse
Regardless of the legal definition of animal abuse in your jurisdiction, dying your dog’s hair jeopardizes your dog’s health and well-being. For animal advocates and activists, dying your dog’s hair IS, indisputably, animal abuse. As the saying goes, let dogs BE dogs! Dogs aren’t toys.
And, even if you don’t believe that you’re abusing your dog in any way by slightly altering their hair color, you are still perpetuating animal abuse.
The attention that your dog’s new look garners inevitably reiterates the human-superior, dog-inferior perspective that consistently breeds animal cruelty and abuse worldwide. It’s similar to the saying that “It’s just a dog,” which gives humans the green light to treat dogs however to their liking. Hence, justifying an abusive decision by saying that dogs love the attention from their new look is NOT right. Again, dogs would love the extra attention WITHOUT altering their natural hair color.
When you dye your dog’s hair, you’re demonstrating to children (and other people) that dogs are things, toys, accessories, props, circus animals – NOT sentient individuals with their own needs and desires. Yet people who perceive dogs as merely property should NOT have dogs to begin with. And yes, dogs are capable of feeling human emotions.
You’re indirectly teaching children that humans can do whatever they want to animals because they are deemed as property. Such perspective only worsens the hostile and abusive environment that millions of dogs (and other animals) endure daily worldwide.
Ask yourself WHY you want to dye your dog’s hair
OK, why do you want to dye your dog’s hair?
If you want to pamper your dog, give him a belly rub or something that you know he’ll naturally enjoy. Sorry, but dying your dog’s hair is NOT considered pampering your dog. While baths are generally despised by dogs (myself included), bathing your dog is a routine practice that should leave your dog feeling relaxed and pest-free. Again, a huge difference exists between necessity and desire.
Conversely, you do not dye your dog’s hair out of necessity. “Creative grooming” is animal abuse. There is no reason why you should be dying your dog’s hair that is truly for his own sake.
Again, garnering attention or appealing to your aesthetic preferences is not justified nor is it morally correct. If you’re dying your dog’s hair for attention or just because you like the way it looks, ask yourself if you’re doing it for yourself or your dog? Chances are you’re doing it for yourself. Dogs ultimately deserve better.
Therefore, please don’t dye your dog’s hair even if you plan on using “pet-safe” or “non-toxic” dyes. Animals should NOT be dyed, tattooed, pierced, mutilated, or altered in any way just to satisfy the aesthetic preferences of selfish humans. Your dog’s well-being should always come first!
Be the responsible, loving, and caring pawrent your precious dog wants you to be.
Markin’ it up,
Roger Wellington a.k.a. The Doob