What you need to know about hand sanitizer and cats

As we grapple with living in a global pandemic, most of us are using more hand sanitizer this year than ever before. And while hand sanitizer has become an important tool in human safety when we don’t have access to soap and water to wash hands, it’s a chemical. Here’s what cat guards should know about hand sanitizer and cats.

What exactly is a hand sanitizer?

Different hand sanitisers have different chemical properties. So it is important to check the ingredients of any hand sanitizer that you buy and use. In general, Dr. Wismer, however: “Hand sanitisers do NOT contain ethylene glycol, the toxic component of antifreeze,” explains Tina Wismer, DVM, Senior Director of the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center.

That is a good thing! Instead, “most hand sanitizers are based on ethanol, which is the same type of alcohol we drink.” Dr. Wismer noted that some hand sanitizers contain small amounts of polyethylene glycol or propylene glycol, which is part of the product marketed as “safe” antifreeze for pets, which is not a bad thing.

Is hand sanitizer safe for cats?

Dr. Jamie Richardson, Chief Medical Officer at Small Door Veterinary, states that “it’s safe to use hand sanitizer on yourself”. It is important to note, however, that hand sanitizers are formulated for human use and are not safe for cats. While hand sanitizer isn’t explicitly toxic to cats, you don’t want your cat to get too close to it. Under no circumstances should you give your cat hand sanitizer.

Dr. Richardson points out that it is important to keep hand sanitizer away from your cat’s paws and fur. When you apply hand sanitizer to your cat’s paws, “the high alcohol content can dry out the paw pads and cause cracks, which are not all very painful, but can also lead to infections if dirt or bacteria get into the cracks, ”advises Dr. Richardson.

Connected: Should You Clean Your Cat’s Paws?

The biggest concern about hand sanitizer is whether cats should ingest it. The good thing about Dr. Richardson and Dr. The wisest thing is that cats are unlikely to want to drink hand sanitizer. “Most pets will not like the taste of disinfectants. So if they lick your hand out of curiosity, it is unlikely that they will do it again! Also, due to the small amount of disinfectant used, a single lick is very unlikely to cause harm to your pet. You may just notice a small amount of drooling from the bad taste, ”advises Dr. Richardson. However, if hand sanitizer gets on your cat’s fur and your cat tries to clean itself, there is a risk of excessive hand sanitizer ingestion or the hand sanitizer being absorbed through the cat’s skin, attacking your cat at risk of alcohol poisoning.

How to use hand sanitizer if you have a cat

If you use hand sanitizer, it is best to do so outside of your cat. Dr. Wismer advises that when using hand sanitizer, Guardians “shouldn’t pet your cat until your hands are completely dry”. While you don’t want to expose your cat to wet hand sanitizer, Dr. Wismer states that the hand sanitizer is perfectly safe to use as “the hand sanitizer is safe to touch your pets without hesitation once it has been vaporized”.

What should you look for when using hand sanitizer on your cat?

The main concern for cats who consume hand sanitizer is the high alcohol content and risk of alcohol poisoning if a large amount of hand sanitizer is ingested or absorbed through the skin. Dr. Richardson points out that alcohol poisoning can be very dangerous or even fatal for cats if not treated quickly. Dr. Richardson points out that the most common symptoms to look out for if you think your cat may have been given more than a piece of hand sanitizer include:

  • Nausea, vomiting, or gagging
  • Drooling
  • Lethargy, weakness, disorientation, or incoordination
  • collapse
  • Slow or difficult breathing

Because alcohol poisoning can progress quickly if you believe your cat has consumed hand sanitizer, it is best to take your cat to the veterinarian immediately for a check-up. For safety reasons, if you have purchased an extra hand sanitizer, it is best to keep the hand sanitizer in a closet or room in your home that your cat cannot access to prevent your cat from getting inside.

Featured photo: PeopleImages / Getty Images

Continue reading: Help our cats through the pandemic


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