Throughout our history with dogs, humans have sought to include their canine companions in the latest fashions. Hair dying in people and dogs is not a new trend, but one that has come back into style with a lot of questions and pet owner confusion.
Here are some tips, facts, and product suggestions to help!
Safety should always be the first question that arises; is it safe to dye a dog’s fur, and how should it be done to ensure safety?
With proper products and application, yes it is safe to dye a dog’s fur! As to how to ensure safety, it may seem far less fun, but taking your dog to a professional groomer with experience in coloring pets is highly advisable.
Not only will a trained professional do a better job on the whole, they have been taught how to safely apply the product, are familiar with the products, and have the proper equipment to keep your dog safe during the process.
However, if you wish to color your pet at home there are a few things you should keep in mind; you run a large risk of dying your towels, carpet, walls, ceiling, clothing, and yourself when your dog shakes off, use no product containing bleach, ammonia, or other harsh chemicals, and you should never allow your pet to ingest any grooming product regardless of how pet friendly it is.
Hair Dye Products
There are surprisingly few hair dyes made specifically for dogs, and many of them are available only in Europe or in limited colors.
Top Performance’s line of fifteen colors is, by far, the easiest to find and has the most color variety. Additionally, its gel formula makes application easy, it is non-toxic, and is typically recommended by both veterinarians and groomers alike.
Top Performance also sells a kit of tools specifically for dying your dog, including clips, combs, and even a mixing bowl!
The next most readily available brand is Dyex, which comes in fewer colors but has been known to last up to six months depending upon the dog’s coat type and color. Dyex is a bit more difficult to find, though used by many professionals, and is more costly.
If you are coloring your dog for a holiday like Halloween and don’t want long lasting color, Pet Head by Bed Head makes a temporary dye that is perfect for use in simple dye jobs such as coloring only the tail or spiking the dog’s hair into a punk style Mohawk.
A good way to select a safe, quality product is to see if it has met the standards of the Personal Care Products Council, or P.C.P.C. (previously known as the Cosmetic, Toiletry and Fragrance Association or C.T.F.A.), which sets safety standards and recommends select pet products.
Natural Hair Dyes
Prior to the mainstream availability of pet grooming products, many groomers and pet owners used coloring agents found right in the kitchen. Food coloring and colored drink mixes, diluted and usually applied with a spray bottle, are safe alternatives to purchasing dog specific dye.
If opting to use a drink mix, be certain to use one with no sugar as this may cause skin irritation as well as encourage the dog to lick the dyed areas. In the case of both food coloring and drink mixes, getting the right color may be difficult and both are quite temporary.
Another once popular choice was Manic Panic, a vegetable based hair dye intended for people but safe for pet use due to its composition. Manic Panic tends to perform better on some coat types better than others and, as it was not formulated for use in dogs, the length of time the color stays may vary.
Regardless of what type of dye you decide to use, be sure to test a small portion of the dye on the dog first, just as you would your own hair before coloring, to see if there is any allergic reaction or sensitivity.
Dogs predisposed to sensitive skin, a tendency to suffer from allergies, or who have damaged skin should not be dyed. Once your pet passes the allergy test, you can get to coloring! Remember, all dyes will stain, so use caution at home when picking the place to color your pet, and always use gloves.
Again, never use products with chemicals, intended for use on humans! Common ingredients in human hair dye are painful and even lethal to dogs, many without the necessity of ingestion. Even if a product is non-toxic, care must be taken that the dog does not consume it; it is better to be cautious.
Some products must remain on the pet for fifteen minutes or more, and many require bathing before and after application, so be sure you have the time to watch and entertain your pet as well as a way to restrain and fully rinse them.
No product should come into contact with your dog’s eyes! Use a cotton ball to color your dog’s face more securely, and use caution when rinsing to prevent water and dye from entering the pet’s ears, eyes, mouth, and nose.
Always fully read the product’s label, you will obtain better results and become familiar with any safety concerns. Unfortunately, some warning labels are frightening; keep in mind that this is to keep the company safe from any lawsuits arising from improper use.
Coloring your pet can be a fun process if done properly, but if you feel at all uncomfortable with doing so-or perhaps do not want your entire bathroom to be light green-you will now be better able to talk to a groomer about dying your dog about the process and the products used.
If you do wish to color at home, a few additional things to remember; the lighter the coat the better the color will develop, wiry coats do not hold color as well as soft coats, no product will cover black fur, color often has to grow out or be cut off so be willing to live with it, always be on the lookout for allergic reactions, and consult your veterinarian with any concerns you may have before coloring.