Keep These Topical Medications Away From Your Dog


Animals are curious and no one is perfect, which means it’s all too easy to accidentally leave your favorite topical product in the path of an inquisitive pet. The following products can cause major problems.

1. Zinc oxide

A common ingredient in sunscreen, diaper rash formulas, and calamine lotions, zinc oxide can be particularly damaging to a dog’s intestines if ingested.

Keep an eye out for vomiting and diarrhea; these are signs your dog’s intestines have been injured. And once absorbed into the bloodstream, zinc damages red blood cells, leading to anemia, pale or yellow mucous membranes, weakness, rapid breathing, and abnormally dark urine.

2. Retinoids

Found in many anti-aging products, retinoids can cause tummy trouble for dogs if ingested, resulting in lethargy, vomiting, and decreased appetite.

Another potential side effect in dogs is the development of keratoconjunctivitis sicca (dry eye). You’ll also want to keep any pregnant dogs far from your wrinkle reducers, as the retinoids could cause birth defects.


Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs, are commonly used in over-the-counter and prescription creams to treat pain and inflammation.

They make you feel better, but they can cause everything from stomach ulcers to kidney failure in pets if administered incorrectly. Signs of toxicity include decreased appetite and vomiting.

4. Steroid Creams

If ingested or absorbed through your dog’s skin, these can cause endocrine disorders.

You may notice an increase in thirst and the need to urinate. The dog may also have nausea and diarrhea. Exposure to estrogen creams can cause heat-like symptoms in spayed female dogs and mammary gland enlargement in males.

5. Minoxidil

Found in hair growth products, minoxidil can cause severe cardiovascular issues, including heart failure, if ingested.

The easiest way to keep your pets safe is to store your topical products in a secure location. Wash your hands thoroughly after applying any topical medicine or treatment, and never use human products on your pet without a veterinarian’s guidance.

Diana Ruth Davidson,  Westside Dog Nanny,             Certified Professional Pet Sitter,                            Certified by American Red Cross in Pet First Aid

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