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Do you ever take your dog for a walk and upon returning realize their paws are covered in dirt or mud? Or maybe you want to rid your dog of dander or clean around its sanitary areas. What do you use to clean your pup? If you’ve ever asked yourself, “Can I use baby wipes on my dog?” you’re not alone.
It’s a reasonable question for the pet owner who wants a simple and quick way to clean their pooch. But, are baby wipes safe for dogs?
To sum it up quickly, No. You shouldn’t use baby wipes or other human wet wipes on puppies or dogs. While they aren’t likely to seriously harm your canine friend, they aren’t the best solution for day-to-day cleaning, either. This guide will explain why baby wipes shouldn’t be used on dogs and what alternatives may work better.
>> Our Recommended Dog Wipes: Earthbath Hypoallergenic Grooming Wipes
In this review:
- Dog wipes vs baby wipes: Why you shouldn’t use baby wipes on dogs
- Alternatives to using baby wipes on dogs
Dog wipes vs baby wipes: Why you shouldn’t use baby wipes on dogs
While both baby wipes and dog wipes serve a similar purpose, there are differences between them that are important to understand.
Dog wipes maintain proper dog pH levels
Probably the most likely problem that can occur from repeatedly using baby wipes on dogs is disrupting the natural pH level of the dog’s skin.
The pH level of a dog’s skin is quite different from that of a human’s, so products engineered for humans could disrupt this balance. With repeated disruption, the skin will become irritated, dry, itchy and susceptible to infection. In fact, overuse of harsh wipes is thought to be a common contributor to vaginitis in dogs.
Once irritated, a dog is likely to bite or lick the area, making the irritation even worse.
Ingredients in the wipes are different
Baby wipes and wet wipes are not manufactured with the intent of canine use and therefore may not be tested for dog safety. Just as some human food poses a threat to dogs, like chocolate and xylitol (a sugar substitute), so could some ingredients in wet wipes.
Furthermore, dogs lick their paws and bodies to keep themselves clean. This means they’ll ingest some of the chemical residue that is left by baby wipes on their fur and skin.
For example, every time I wash or wipe Max’s muddy paws after a walk, he immediately begins licking his paws (if not the wet wipe itself). If you are washing your dog’s entire coat, they could potentially be ingesting a lot more of the product.
Now, I don’t want to cause too much alarm. The scientific studies I researched (linked at the bottom of this page) indicated that in small amounts, the chemicals discussed therein shouldn’t be harmful to your dog. However, the research does show that in large doses, yes, some of the chemicals could cause problems.
While it’s safest to steer clear of questionable chemicals, ultimately it’s up to the pet owner to decide what is best for their pet.
Below are just a few examples of ingredients found in common baby wipes that could be problematic.
Propylene glycol is a chemical used for its ability to maintain moisture. Whether it is safe for use on dogs is highly debated. This is because when it is ingested at high doses, it can cause problems in the central nervous system.1
However, as veterinarian toxicologist Ahna Brutleg states, it’s the dose that makes the poison. “If a cat or dog ingests a large amount of propylene glycol, it can become poisoned. The amount of propylene glycol that a dog would be expected to ingest in a commercial dog food containing propylene glycol would not be considered enough to cause poisoning.”1
To sum it up, it seems unlikely that the amount of propylene glycol found in baby wipes would do enough to cause poisoning.
Polysorbate-20, Butoxy PEG-4 PG-Amodimethicone, Phenoxyethanol and other preservatives
To create these manufactured chemicals, they are mixed with ethylene oxide. Ethylene oxide makes chemicals less harsh, but it is also a known carcinogen.2 When combined, the new compound itself is not necessarily the problem; but it is the byproduct that can be troublesome.
The byproduct is called 1,4-dioxane and it is another known carcinogen.3 The problem is that consumers are not informed of whether the manufacturer took the extra step to vacuum strip the product of this contaminant and what level remains in the product, if any.
Currently, scientific research shows that these products are safe for humans in small amounts. The research is unclear, however, of their safety for canines.
Alternatives to using baby wipes on dogs
As you’ve read above, baby wipes probably won’t cause acute harm to your dog if they’re only used rarely when you’re in a pinch. However, the good news is that you don’t need to worry about the risk—there are many great brands of dog wipes, plus a few other alternatives, you can use instead.
Wipes that are made specifically for dogs are a much better choice when it comes to canine safety. The ingredients are likely to be safer for dogs while maintaining their proper skin pH level. Therefore, they should not irritate skin when used regularly. If you have a dog with sensitive or allergy-prone skin, look for hypoallergenic wipes.
In my research, even some of the most popular wipes labeled as “natural” or “plant-based” have manufactured chemicals like polysorbate-20, which may contain 1,4-dioxane. If you desire to steer clear of possible toxins, take the extra step of looking at the ingredients so you can know you are not putting anything possibly harmful on your dog.
We’ve compiled a list of the best dog eye wipes to help you find some safe options (note: these eye wipes can be used on your dog’s entire body; they’re just extra gentle). We’ve also produced a guide to the best dog tear stain removers if your pup’s eyes and mouth have dark stains around them.
A clean cloth with dog shampoo
One of the safest ways to clean your dog without using a baby wipe or wet wipe is to simply use a washcloth and a bit of high-quality dog shampoo.
Simply add a drop or two of dog shampoo to a damp cloth and lather the shampoo. After washing your dog, rinse the washed area with a clean damp cloth or with fresh water.
>> Read more: Best Dog Shampoo: 6 Organic, All-Natural Picks
DIY dog wipes
Yes, you can make your wipes at home. This is basically a combination of the previous two alternatives, and it’s so easy to make. Our guide to homemade dog eye wipes will show you how. Although this recipe is geared toward eye wipes, they can be used all over a dog’s body.
Final thoughts: There’s a difference between puppy wipes and baby wipes
If you’re looking for a quick fix for muddy paws or a quick wipe down, dog wipes are a better choice than baby wipes.
Here are a few important things to keep in mind.
First, remember that just because something is safe for a human doesn’t make it safe for your dog. Second, you should use dog-safe wipes with the most natural ingredients you can find. Third, wipes are not a replacement for a good bath, which is important for your dog’s health.
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- Scheidegger, J. “Propylene glycol: Educate yourself and your veterinary clients.” DVM360. April 2015. https://www.dvm360.com/view/propylene-glycol-educate-yourself-and-your-veterinary-clients
- National Cancer Institute. “Ethylene Oxide.” Dec. 2018. https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/substances/ethylene-oxide
- National Center for Biotechnology Information. “Toxicological Profile for 1,4-Dioxane.” Aug. 2007. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.