Dog Hair Dye: Harmless Fashion Statement or Borderline Animal Cruelty?


dog hair dyeThere was a big fad in China a few years back where people were dying their pets to look like wild animals such as tigers and pandas. In North America, it is not unusual to see dogs died to accompany children on Halloween or as part of a statement such as Breast Cancer Awareness Month, when many dogs go pink for a month. Is it safe to dye your dog? Is it cruel? Is it legal?

In some states it is illegal to dye your pet with dog hair dye. These laws were generally enacted to protect small animals around Easter time but can also be applied to normal pets. Some people have been fined for dyeing their dogs.

Whether it’s cruel or not, depends on your pet. Some animals, such as small rodents like rats, mice, and chinchillas, should never be dyed. You don’t bathe them because they get chilled easily and are very vulnerable to illnesses like pneumonia. Dyeing them just puts them at risk of illness and is extremely stressful for them. Cats are also seldom bathed and tend to find it very stressful. Cats are also serious groomers and have many food sensitivities not present in dogs and people. So, dyeing your cat is not a great idea either.

Dyeing your dog can be safe and cause no harm if done right. For starters, your dog is not a good candidate for dyeing if they hate being bathed. Dogs that are groomed regularly are usually quite used to being bathed and it causes no unusual distress in them. If you are going to dye your dog’s fur, it is important to use the right dye. Human dyes are not meant for ingestion and are very toxic. Always remember that anything you put your dog is likely to be consumed when they lick their fur. Also, their fur tends to cover their whole body, making skin exposure to the dye significantly higher than it is when you dye your own hair.

Choose a pet-safe dye (there are some on the market) or better still use food colouring which is very safe when eaten. You can also use Kool Aid. Be careful to avoid getting any dye in your pet’s eyes. The first time you apply a dye, put it only on a small patch of fur and then wait 24 hours. This is to make sure your dog is not allergic to any aspect of the dye. A small patch of itchy skin is much kinder than a whole body itch. If your dog suffers from any type of skin disorder or condition that causes skin irritation, it is better not to try to dye their fur.

There have been no long term studies of the effects of dyes, including the pet safe dyes, on an animal’s health so use it with some caution. Be aware of your dog’s personality as well. Taking your shy little dog and dying him to look like a panda is going to attract a lot of attention. He may not appreciate that and find the whole experience stressful.

As long as your dog does not mind the dyeing process or the resultant attention, it is not harmful to dye your dog. It is important you use the right kind of dyes to avoid making your pet sick. You should never dye pets like cats, rats, mice, and chinchillas. To dye an animal that will find the procedure stressful is cruel. The rest is up to you.


    • It’s harmless and it’s a personal choice that doesn’t have any impact on your life, so why go to the trouble of making a hateful comment about it?

      • are you fucking stupid! it’s a helpless animal and there has been ZERO STUIDIES saying this is 100% safe. plan and simple, if you love your animals, cherish them, dont abuse them cause you want them to be a pretty fucking color

        • Bob Ross, why are you using such language to get your point across? This is a discussion board, we’re here to discuss. Calling someone stupid just makes people not want to see your point of view.

        • My my Bob…I think that could have been said without the F word. It’s not like it just slipped out…YOU HAD TO TYPE IT! Honestly…it just makes you sound like a low class idiot. Just sayin.

  1. Hi im looking to dye my dog with safe color vegan i live in miami is it ilegal or legal please help thank you

  2. My mother is a Creative Stylest (Cindy Oliver), so she gets this question asked a lot too. It is PERFECTLY safe for the animal. If the animal doesn’t like it then we won’t force it. One of my dogs (paisley) is one of our show dogs. When it’s time to redye her she jumps on the table and is ready tail wagging. My mother also gets criticism and complements. People who criticize her work think it’s animal abuse and is down right wrong. But if it were animal abuse, then why did they have it at one of America’s biggest dog shows, Eukanuba? If it were animal abuse then why is it a big part in a lot of dog shows? Answer me that. It’s not animal abuse. And it is perfectly fine for the animal. Also if you want a good pet dye that is nontoxic, try Opawz.

  3. ” Dyeing them just puts them at risk of illness and is extremely stressful for them.”

    Citation needed.

    “There have been no long term studies of the effects of dyes, including the pet safe dyes, on an animal’s health so use it with some caution.”

    This looks like it should be at the top of your article in all caps.

    “As long as your dog does not mind the dyeing process or the resultant attention, it is not harmful to dye your dog. ”

    This appears to contradict the first two statements quoted above.

    • The first quote was in regards to very small animals like mice and chinchillas. They have weak immune systems, so to dye them would put them at risk of illnesses.
      As with anything regarding your fur babies…use common sense. If the dog doesn’t like it, then don’t do it! Plain and simple.

    • You’re taking the first statement out of context. That was in regards to animals that aren’t safe to bathe

  4. The animals have no say in this and it is a form of abuse–IMO.
    There is absolutely nothing in it for the animal–only for the unbalanced human who is doing it. Many breeders and dog show participants would have no problem with this because they are used to exploiting and making as much money as they can–off the animals’ backs. If you have respect and love your animal–you would never consider doing this to them. IF YOU WANT TO PAINT SOMETHING–BUY A CANVAS–YOU DON’T DO IT TO LIVING BEINGS!

    • I dye my dog. He absolutely loves the extra attention he gets. Im not sure what you think is in it for ME as the owner, really, aside from spending money in dye and ending up with a purple bathroom. My dog, with his funky do, brings people joy, and in return, he is happy because he gets extra love and attention. He is also a poodle, so they are used to regular grooming, a couple minutes to apply dye doesn’t bother him at all. 🤷🏻‍♀️

      • I think, from reading your reply that you may have a mental health issue. You can give your dog extra attention without dying him! You are putting toxins into every cell of his body that the dye goes into!
        People love dogs anyway and give them attention.
        I’m sure that a lot of people who see your dog must think you are abusing him–ask some of them!
        You need to STOP DYING him as you are poisoning this poor little poodle!!!

  5. If the pet can sign an agreement and show they understand what your going to do to them, go for it. Otherwise go dye yourself

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