Never Use Isopropyl (Rubbing) Alcohol On Your Dog - Dogs Naturally (2023)

Isopropyl alcohol is a surprisingly common ingredient in pet products. But can you use isopropyl alcohol on dogs?

I was shocked to see a question on Google that asked, “Can you put rubbing alcohol (isopropyl alcohol) on a dog to make him stop licking?” Then I read about a woman who uses isopropyl alcohol to mix the edible frosting colors for a dog birthday cake.

So I did some poking around in the dog product industry. And I suddenly realized that many people think isopropyl alcohol is okay.

Can You Use Isopropyl Alcohol On Dogs?

No, it is not! Isopropyl alcohol can be very toxic to dogs. When you look at the isopropyl alcohol Material Safety Data Sheet, you’ll read that possible side effects can include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Unconsciousness
  • Death

“Gastrointestinal pain, cramps, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea may also result.”

Skin contact can lead to “skin irritation with redness and pain. May be absorbed through the skin with possible systemic effects.”

Even breathing it is dangerous. “Exposure to high concentrations has a narcotic effect, producing symptoms of dizziness, drowsiness, headache, staggering, unconsciousness and possibly death.”

This is not something I’d ever put on my dog’s skin. Especially somewhere she can inhale or lick it. (1)

Alcohol In Pet Products

Despite the warnings and the research …isopropyl alcohol has been sneaking its way into the cosmetics industry for years. And now it’s found a nice cozy bed in the pet care industry.

The world of alcohol is vast … with many different types of alcohol. And they all serve their purpose in each specific industry that uses them. Alcohol is used as …

(Video) Dog's reaction to rubbing alcohol

  • Solvent (a substance that dissolves another substance)
  • Antiseptic
  • Humectant (a substance that helps retain moisture)
  • Preservative

But the scary part is how alcohol delivers ingredients into the skin. It does it by breaking down the natural oils and antibacterial layer. This means it destroys your dog’s skin microbiome … making her susceptible to all types of skin infections.

Forms Of Alcohol

Different forms of alcohol are not all created equal. When most people see alcohol on a label they think of drinking alcohol or spirits. Those are the opposite of isopropyl alcohol. Here area few types of alcohols you’ll find …

Ethanol Or Grain Neutral Spirits

Drinking alcohol is what the industry calls undenatured ethanol or grain alcohol. Most alcohol produced in North America is from corn.Natural alcohol can also come from other sources like …

  • Fruits
  • Sugar cane
  • Potatoes
  • Wheat

Grain alcohol or ethanol is available in different proofs. A grain alcohol’s proof is its ratio of alcohol to water. For example, 190 proof is 95% ethanol and 5% water. When you look at a bottle of alcohol in the liquor store … you’ll see that it says, “__ proof”. The proof is twice the percentage of alcohol. So, 80 proof would mean that the bottle contains 40% ethanol.

Alcohol In Herbal Tinctures

As an herbalist, I use alcohol to extract the active ingredients in plants … to make herbal tinctures. My alcohol of choice is organic grain alcohol because it’s non-GMO and safe in small amounts. Tincture dosages for dogs are usually 1 to 3 single drops.

I prefer alcohol extractions for dogs.

  • They’re easily absorbed into the bloodstream. That’s why I call alcohol extracts “predigested herbs.”
  • Alcohol extractions don’t need heat, so the plant’s volatile oils are preserved. This makes the tincture more effective.
  • And … with proper storage, alcohol tinctures have an unlimited shelf life.

Most dogs are fine with herbal tinctures. The small amount of alcohol makes them very safe. But if your dog doesn’t tolerate herbal tinctures well, here’s the solution.

Dilute the tincture dose with an equal amount of hot water. It’ll cause the alcohol to evaporate.

Organic Alcohol

Organic alcohol is the same as ethanol or grain alcohol … but the fermentation, distillation and packaging processes use organic standards.

Methyl Alcohol or Methanol

Methanol is a highly toxic form of alcohol. It’s also known as wood alcohol. Methanol is used in antifreeze, as a solvent, an industrial cleaner, and in the synthesis of formaldehyde.

Denatured Alcohol

Denatured alcohol can be made of ethanol … or sometimes other chemically classified alcohols that are not ethanol based.

(Video) 5 AMAZING HACKS Using Only Rubbing Alcohol!

This type of alcohol is denatured by the addition of toxic solvents. This makes the alcohol unfit for consumption. Companies denature alcohol to avoid having to pay taxes. It also stops people from buying ethanol anywhere but a liquor store.

The chemicals used to denature vary. But the most popular are …

  • Methanol
  • Acetone
  • Methyl isobutyl ketone
  • Isopropyl alcohol(rubbing alcohol)
  • Methyl ethyl ketone

Many of these added chemicals are nearly impossible to distill out of the alcohol. This makes them the toxins of choice for the denatured alcohol industry.

Isopropyl Alcohol

Isopropyl alcohol is touted as a mild antiseptic, cleaner and disinfectant. It’s made through the hydration of water and a carbon called propene. This comes from fossil fuels like petroleum, natural gas and coal.

Why You Should Care About Isopropyl Alcohol

Isopropyl alcohol is rapidly absorbed through your dog’s skin. It has several negative effects.

  • Skin irritation and excessive dryness.
  • Delays healing of skin tissue.
  • Removes the skin’s naturally occurring moisture barrier.
  • Can cause respiratory tract irritation when inhaled.
  • Is a neurotoxin (harming the nervous system).
  • Contains petroleum-based propene, which makes it unfit to drink … and twice as toxic as ethanol.
  • The liver oxidizes isopropyl alcohol into acetone. With prolonged exposure this process can damage the kidneys.

Other Names For Isopropyl Alcohol

Isopropyl alcohol goes by a few other names. So … look out for these names when you shop for dog products.

  • Propyl alcohol
  • Propanol
  • Isopropyl alcohol
  • Isopropanol
  • 2-hydroxypropane
  • 2-propyl alcohol
  • Dimethyl carbinol

Pet Care Products With Isopropyl Alcohol

Here are two examples of popular pet care products containing isopropyl alcohol.

1. This first product is for use on paws and hot spots. It touts that “your dog would ask for it.” My pug, Francis, has firmly verified that she would not.

Active ingredients: Cod Liver Oil, Gentian Violet, Brilliant Green.

Other Ingredients: Isopropyl Alcohol, Balsam Peru, Glycerine, Cade Oil, Tannic Acid, Turpentine.

I can’t ignore that this product uses a substance called Brilliant Green. This is also known as Zelyonka. It’s a Russian dye that’s toxic when eaten. And it’s likely your dog would eat it. Because the first ingredient is cod liver oil. I don’t know any dog who wouldn’t do her best to lick the fish oil off her skin and paws.


And when she licks the fish oil … in goes the brilliant green, turpentine and isopropyl alcohol as well.

2. The second example is a muscle recovery rub for dogs. This one kind of made me want to go postal.

Ingredients: menthol 20mg/g, camphor 6.25mg/g, isopropyl alcohol 350mg/g in a gel base.

This is an example ofa product that may seem natural to some. But it’s anything but. Let’s look at the ingredients:

  • 20mg of menthol is too much for a dog … and it can irritate the lungs.
  • Camphor shouldneverbe used on dogs. It can cause severe issues like seizures and liver failure.
  • Isopropyl alcohol.
  • The gel base usually containspropylene glycol, copolymers, polysorbates and sodium laureth sulfate.

Other Products

But those are just two. Manufacturers love to use isopropyl alcohol for many other dog products:

  • Ear washes and flushes
  • All types of skin treatments
  • Skunk washes
  • So-called “pet-safe” household cleaners
  • Chewing sprays like Bitter Apple
  • Different types of wipes
  • Miracle urine cleaners
  • Paw care products
  • Wound care sprays
  • Shampoos
  • Floor cleaners

Safe Alcohols

There’s another group of alcohols that are generally recognized as safe (GRAS). They’re made from natural fats and oils. This group of fatty alcohols has a different effect on the skin than their ethanol-based counterparts. Most fatty alcohols are emulsifiers (that blend liquids together) and emollients (skin softeners).

Cetyl Alcohol

Extracted from coconut oil,cetyl alcohol is a foaming emollient and emulsifier. It stabilizes or alters the formula it’s added to. It has a low occurrence of irritation.

Stearyl Alcohol

Stearyl alcohol is mostly made from coconuts, shea nuts, and sometimes, animals. It’s used as an emollient, emulsifier, and thickening agent. This alcohol is mostly solid at room temperature. It’s soothing and non-drying to the skin.

Cetearyl Alcohol

Cetearyl alcohol is an emulsifying wax. It’s derived from natural oils or fats. It’s very efficient as astabilizing agent because it gives an emollient feel to the skin.

How To Avoid Isopropyl Alcohol In Dog Products

You can avoid isopropyl alcohol with a bit of care. There are natural solutions for every product that contains it.

1. Don’t buy any product that doesn’t provide a full ingredient list.

2. If you come across an ingredient you don’t know … Environmental Working Group’s Skin-Deep database is an excellent place to start.

3. Look for these ingredients instead:

  • Alcohol-free witch hazel
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Hydrosols
  • Aloe vera juice
  • Vegetable glycerin
  • Tea
  • Purified water

4. If the product needs alcohol, look for grain or organic alcohol from plant sources.

(Video) Treating a Dog's Ear Infection With Vinegar and Rubbing Alcohol

As I said earlier, I use organic grain alcohol to extract plant ingredients when I make herbal tinctures. It’s non-GMO and it’s safe. There are many other types of alcohol that I haven’t covered. But isopropyl rubbing alcohol is the denatured alcohol you’ll find most in dog products.

The danger of using this form of alcohol definitely outweighs any benefit a manufacture could conceive.

Always Read Labels

Even though some labels can be disheartening, you must read them each time you buy something new. Or even something that you’ve used for a long time. Manufacturers love to change ingredients when you’re not looking.

It’s up to you as a dog owner. You have to do the work it takes to protect your dog from the dangers of modern industry.

  1. Peter G. Lacouture, Suman Wason, Alan Abrams, Frederick H. Lovejoy. Acute isopropyl alcohol intoxication: Diagnosis and management, The American Journal of Medicine,Volume 75, Issue 4, 1983,
(Video) Dog Yeast Ear Infections: Great OTC Home Remedy


Never Use Isopropyl (Rubbing) Alcohol On Your Dog - Dogs Naturally? ›

Isopropyl Alcohol (or rubbing alcohol): If ingested by pets, isopropyl alcohol can cause vomiting, disorientation, incoordination, and in severe cases, collapse, respiratory depression and seizures. Rubbing alcohol should not be used at home on a pet's skin.

Is rubbing alcohol bad for dogs fur? ›

Do not use harsh cleaners or apply hydrogen peroxide, rubbing alcohol, or other caustic cleaning products to your dog's skin as these can be painful or even cause the wound to take longer to heal.

Do vets use isopropyl alcohol? ›

Isopropyl Alchohol is routinely used by veterinarians and artificial inseminators as a bactericide and antiseptic. Alcohol works as an antiseptic by coagulating protein, the primary material that makes up cells.

What happens if a dog smells isopropyl alcohol? ›

He may salivate excessively sometimes foaming at the mouth. Excitement gives way to lethargy and depression. Difficulty with breathing. If symptoms are severe, he may lose consciousness.

How much isopropyl alcohol is toxic to dogs? ›

Isopropanol is twice as toxic as ethanol and is found in rubbing alcohols and in alcohol-based flea sprays for pets. Oral dosages of isopropanol ≥0.5 mL/kg may result in significant clinical signs in dogs.

Can I spray my dog with isopropyl alcohol? ›

Isopropyl alcohol can be toxic to pets

You shouldn't spray or pour isopropyl alcohol onto your pet's fur or skin in an attempt to kill fleas. This toxic chemical is easily absorbed through the skin, and in large enough amounts it's poisonous to pets.

What is a natural antiseptic for dogs? ›

Natural antiseptics include turmeric, coconut oil, aloe vera and witch hazel. For a spicy antiseptic concoction that will also help with inflammation—and prevent licking, because most dogs don't love the smell—mix turmeric from your spice cabinet with aloe vera in a 1:1 ratio and smooth it on the scrape.

Is isopropyl alcohol toxic to skin? ›

Isopropyl alcohol is readily absorbed through the skin, so spilling large amounts of IPA on the skin may cause accidental poisoning. Small amounts of IPA on the skin is generally not dangerous, but repeated skin exposure can cause itching, redness, rash, drying, and cracking. Prolonged skin contact may cause corrosion.

Does isopropyl alcohol get rid of dog pee smell? ›

If the urine stain has set into the carpet, then you'll need to take more drastic measures. Mix 2 parts of water with isopropyl rubbing alcohol and apply by tamping the area with an absorbent pad moistened with the mixture. Keep changing the pad as the stain is lifted from the carpet. Allow the area to dry.

How toxic is isopropyl alcohol? ›

According to, "The approximate lethal dose of 90 to 100 percent isopropanol for human adults is only 250 milliliters, or about 8 ounces." Eight ounces. To put it in perspective: the average shot glass is 1.5 ounces. A can of Coke is 12 ounces. Ingesting only eight ounces of rubbing alcohol can kill you.

Is 70% isopropyl alcohol toxic? ›

It is a commercially available product that mainly is found as a 70% solution in rubbing alcohol and hand sanitizers. Unlike the other toxic alcohols, isopropanol rarely causes death and is associated with ketosis without acidosis. Treatment of isopropanol ingestions typically consists of supportive therapy.

Do dogs like the smell of isopropyl alcohol? ›

Alcohol. A lot of dogs will turn away from the smell of rubbing alcohol. Often used as a mild disinfectant in the household, be careful with its use because it can cause possible irritation. Instead of spraying, soak a cotton ball in rubbing alcohol and place them in areas where you don't want your dog to stay.

Is the smell of alcohol bad for dogs? ›

By letting your dog smell or consume alcohol, you are directly putting him in danger. That type of party trick can end in liver failure, a depressed central nervous system, involuntary urination or defecation, hypothermia, and even death. It is also important to remember that dogs are different from us physiologically.

What can I put on itchy dog skin? ›

Chamomile, calendula, and green tea have properties that soothe and cool irritated skin and reduce inflammation, making them great additions in a dog bath for itchy skin. These soaks are best for dogs who have hot, itchy patches of skin that are at risk of getting rubbed raw.

When should you not use isopropyl alcohol? ›

Avoid rubbing alcohol on painted, shellacked, lacquered, or varnished surfaces, including treated wood. Certain fabrics: The isopropyl in alcohol can be a great stain treatment on certain fabrics, removing all evidence of difficult stains like ink, grass, grease, or sap.

What is a homemade wound cleanser for dogs? ›

Warm tap water is recommended for cleaning most wounds. Warm saline (salt solution) may also be used. This may be made by adding approximately one level teaspoonful (5 mL) of salt (or Epsom salts) to two cups (500 mL) of water.

What is the safest antiseptic for dogs? ›

Accelerated Hydrogen Peroxide (AHP): This non-toxic, pet-safe disinfectant contains surfactants, compounds that acts as detergents and foaming agents. AHP is a more stable than the traditional hydrogen peroxide. Dish Soap: This tried-and-true cleaner disinfects without causing harm to pets.

Does isopropyl alcohol heal wounds? ›

Using hydrogen peroxide or rubbing alcohol to clean an injury can actually harm the tissue and delay healing. The best way to clean a minor wound is with cool running water and mild soap.

Is rubbing alcohol the same as isopropyl alcohol? ›

Isopropyl alcohol and rubbing alcohol are not the same. Rubbing alcohol consists of isopropyl alcohol and some water. Sometimes it contains other additional ingredients. On the other hand, isopropyl alcohol is pure alcohol with little to no water and other ingredients.

Is isopropyl alcohol cancerous? ›

Isopropanol is not classifiable as to its carcinogenicity to humans (Group 3).

What really kills dog urine smell? ›

Opt for Baking Soda

Baking soda naturally neutralizes odors. Sprinkle it liberally on the damp area or even an old urine stain, and work the powder gently into the fibers of any fabric, rug or carpet. Let the baking soda sit overnight for maximum odor absorption, then vacuum it up to remove the smell completely.

What breaks down dog urine enzymes? ›

Proteases break down protein-based soils including blood, urine, food, feces, wine and other beverages. Lipases break down fat molecules like oils and grease.

What destroys dog urine smell? ›

Make a solution of baking soda, peroxide and any dish detergent. The combination of the three is often powerful enough to drive away strong urine smells. The solutions is eight fluid ounces of peroxide, three tablespoons of baking soda, and a few drops of dish detergent.

Is 100% isopropyl alcohol safe? ›

The high grades of Isopropyl Alcohol 100% are suitable for the majority of IPA uses and is commonly used by industrial users and cleaners. Great for: Disinfecting hard surfaces - kitchen, bathroom and laundry. Sanitising and cleaning makeup brushes.

How long does isopropyl alcohol poisoning take? ›

Symptoms of ISO poisoning can appear immediately but may take a few hours to become noticeable. ISO poisoning usually causes: stomach pain.

What is the antidote for isopropyl alcohol? ›

Antidotes and specific therapies: There is no antidote. Ethanol and fomepizole are not necessary, as there are no toxic organic acids formed from isopropyl alcohol metabolism.

What is better 70% or 99% isopropyl alcohol? ›

70% isopropyl alcohol is by far better at killing bacteria and viruses than 99% isopropyl alcohol. As a disinfectant, 70% concentration of alcohol is the most effective at killing pathogens. Any higher or lower percentage will be less effective.

What happens if I spray rubbing alcohol on my bed? ›

It's flammable

Isopropyl alcohol is extremely flammable. Though it dries quickly, spraying it on upholstered furniture, carpets, fabrics, clothing, and mattresses creates a fire hazard. Vapors that linger in the air are also highly flammable.

Is 90% isopropyl alcohol better than 70%? ›

Even though you may think the higher concentration is more effective, experts say 70% is actually better for disinfecting. It has more water, which helps it to dissolve more slowly, penetrate cells, and kill bacteria. The disinfecting power of rubbing alcohol drops at concentrations higher than 80%-85%.

What smell do dogs hate the most? ›

At the top of the list? Citrus. Most dogs can't stand the taste and smell of oranges, lemons, and grapefruit. Here's why — plus, how to use their dislike of citrus to your advantage.

What does alcohol do to a dog? ›

Dogs cannot metabolize alcohol, so beverages, foods, or household products containing different forms of alcohol are unhealthy and can be toxic. Alcohol can cause lethargy, respiratory depression, and dangerously low body temperature in dogs.

Can you clean fur with alcohol? ›

Get the stains off your fur coat

It is indeed a hard job to remove any stain, however, with a simple mixture of rubbing alcohol and water on the stain, the job can become much easier. All you need is to wet a piece of clean cloth with alcohol and water, and then use it to clean the stain.

Will rubbing alcohol damage hair? ›

Rubbing alcohol has a low pH level, which means that when applied to the hair, it can cause damage by stripping off its natural oils. This can lead to dryness of the hair shaft and leave it brittle and more prone to breaking.

What can I rub on my dogs fur? ›

List of essential oils safe for your dog's coat
  • Chamomile oil. Chamomile oil has been linked to supporting skin health.
  • Coconut Oil. Just like with humans, coconut oil for dogs is helpful in maintaining healthy and hydrated skin as well as helping with odor control.
  • Jojoba. ...
  • Lavender. ...
  • Fish oil. ...
  • Avocado. ...
  • Aloe Vera.
Dec 19, 2020

Is alcohol harmful to dogs? ›

Beer contains alcohol, and alcohol is toxic for dogs. Even a little beer can cause alcohol poisoning, especially if the dog is small.

What is the best way to clean dogs fur? ›

Baking Soda
  1. Either use one cup of baking soda alone or combine it with one cup of cornstarch. Baking soda will deodorize your dog's coat, while cornstarch will absorb oil and soften the coat. ...
  2. Comb or brush out your dog's fur. Then rub her down with a clean towel.
Mar 6, 2022

What is the difference between rubbing alcohol and isopropyl alcohol? ›

Isopropyl alcohol and rubbing alcohol are not the same. Rubbing alcohol consists of isopropyl alcohol and some water. Sometimes it contains other additional ingredients. On the other hand, isopropyl alcohol is pure alcohol with little to no water and other ingredients.


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