How to Dye a Dog’s Fur Safely

Reviewed By Kyoko •  Updated: 02/08/21 •  11 min read
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You’ve probably noticed that dogs with dyed hair are becoming more prevalent at dog-friendly events, such as festivals and even at Halloween. Some dogs are dyed to make them look like cartoon characters, while others may have only their ears, or another small area dyed. It depends on that look pet parents are going for. Many people have very strong opinions about whether or not pet parents should dye their canine companion’s fur. Some people think it’s cute, while others believe dyeing fur to be cruel. If you have questions about dyeing your fur baby’s hair, then you’ve come to the right place. We’ll offer you a balanced view of this topic and leave the choice ultimately up to you. We’ll share some tips on how to dye a dog’s hair, which products to use (or not), and more.

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To Dye or Not to Dye Dog’s Fur

Is using hair dye on dogs cruel? Some people believe it’s cruel and unnecessary. They view this as a form of vanity that’s only for the pet parent’s sake and not the dog’s. However, it depends on the dog. If you have a canine companion that doesn’t like being groomed or bathed, then he’s not a good candidate for hair dyeing. The reason is because the process will be stressful for him. If that’s the case, then your fur baby should not have his dyed. It’s that simple. In this way, dyeing your dog’s hair could be cruel. On the other hand, if your dog is groomed and bathed on a regular basis, or doesn’t mind have a bath, then he might be a good candidate for coloring his hair. Dogs that are comfortable with grooming and bathing won’t be stressed out by the dyeing process. They’ll probably just feel as it’s another form of bathing. In this case, it’s OK to go ahead and color your pup’s fur.

Dogs with Dye Allergies & Intolerance Issues

Some dogs, just like us, have allergies—both food and skin allergies. They also suffer from food and chemical intolerances. So, if you have a dog that has one of these conditions, then don’t dye his hair. While using a dog-safe product is recommended, these products can still cause health issues in dogs with allergies and intolerance issues. If you’re unsure whether or not your fur baby has allergies, then you might choose to dye one small patch skin. This is called the patch test. Once the fur has been colored, wait about 24 hours and then check the area. You seen signs of a skin reaction or will have noticed your pup scratching at the area. If so, then don’t dye his fur. However, if the area appears to be normal and your fur baby isn’t scratching, then it’s OK to color his hair. In addition, be sure to follow all the instructions on the dye to avoid causing any issues for your fur baby.

Be aware that in some places, it is against the law to dye your dog’s hair. These laws were first developed to protect small animals from being dyed at Easter time. Here, think of cute yellow chicks. Even so, these laws can be applied to dogs (and other animals) and hair dyeing. Some pet parents have been fined for dyeing their canine companion’s hair. So, be sure to check the laws in your area before dyeing your pup’s fur.

Never Use Human Hair Dye on Dogs (or Other Animals)

Never use human hair dye on dogs or other animals. We can’t stress this enough. Human hair dyes contain substances that are unsafe for dogs. These include:

Permanent hair dyes use these harsh chemicals to change the hair color. This is done by lifting the natural color and replacing it with the dye. These chemicals can cause chemical burns, shedding and even sores on you for baby. In addition, these dyes are toxic if ingested. This is a real problem because tend to lick their fur. Human hair dye chemicals are also created with a pH level compatible with humans. Dogs’ pH is completely different than ours. So, never, ever use human hair dye on your dog. Use only products safe and recommended for your pup.

While Koolaid is safe to drink, it’s not a good choice for dyeing your dog’s hair. However, it’s not recommended as the best way to color your fur baby. The reason is that the drink powder tends to become a sticky mess in the dog’s hair, even if you used the unsweetened type. It’s really not pleasant for the dog and is a mess for both the dog and his pet parents. OK, now that we’ve reviewed all the cautions and don’ts, it’s time to move on to safe hair dyes for dogs!

Types of Hair Dye for Dogs

When it comes to dyeing your dog’s fur, you’ll find there are various types of coloring available. These include:

Just make sure to read the label and check to make sure the product is non-toxic. Stay away from any products that include harsh chemicals, etc. You’ll also have to choose between permanent, semi-permanent or temporary types of doggie hair dyes. If you’d like your dog to be dyed for a special occasion, then the best option is a temporary dye. For pet parents who want their dogs to stay dyed longer, then the best options are semi-permanent & permanent doggie hair coloring products.

Best Dog Hair Dye

The best dyes are those made especially for dogs. These are pretty safe and non-toxic; however, you’ll still need to do a patch test to make sure your fur baby doesn’t have an allergic reaction to the coloring. In this section, we’ll take a look at some hair dyeing products made for dogs.

1. Opawz Dog Pet Hair Dye Gel

This is a popular product that offers semi-permanent hair coloring. The dye is available in various colors and comes in a tube that’s easy to use. Keep in mind that once you’ve opened the tube, any unused hair dye cannot be saved. It must be thrown away. Opawz dyeing gel is completely non-toxic and is best used on dogs with light-colored fur. It lasts longer on dogs that have fine and/or soft-haired coats, such as Poodles, Bichon, etc. The color washes away after about 8 washings, though on wirehaired dogs, the dye will wash out more quickly. It takes about 20 minutes to achieve the right shade.

2. Top Performance Hair Dye Gel for Dogs (& Cats)

This is another semi-permanent hair dye for dogs. It’s completely non-toxic and comes in a 4 oz jar. The dye will last about 4-6 washes and coloring results will vary depending on coat type and color. The dye is easy to use and comes in 6 different colors.

3. Crazy Liberty Dog Hair Dye Set

This is a great hair dye if you’d like a permanent dog hair dye black. This is a permanent hair dye safe for dogs, which also comes in a variety of other colors. The product is made with plant and fruit substances that contain AHA (a-hydroxy acid) in the dye to give a more intensive color. There’s one note on the product description that says it also uses ultra-silicon emulsion, which penetrates deep into your fur baby’s coat.

4. Petway Petcare Pet Paint Spray

This is a temporary dye for your dog’s coat and comes as a color you spray on. It is a quick-drying formula that’s easy to wash off. The spray is completely non-toxic and safe for your fur baby. The product is also propellant free, so it’s environmentally safe. The spray can is made to make it very easy to paint your pup’s hair, and it comes in a wide variety of colors. One note—if you or your dog has asthma or other breathing problems, you may want to choose another type of dye. Keep in mind that the spray, while non-toxic and without propellants, could still irritate sensitive airways.

5. Opaws Hair Chalk Paint Pens

This product offers a temporary color that’s safe and non-toxic for dogs. The set comes with 10 chalk paint pens in a wide variety of colors. The colors are self-sealing and will not clothes or furniture. It’s easy to remove the color with one wash. These are a great choice if you’d like to be artistic when dyeing your canine companion’s hair. The pens make it easy to apply the color with precision; however, it may not be the best choice for coloring large areas. This type of dye works best on dogs with light or white coats, and it doesn’t work as well on coarse hair.

How to Dye Your Dog’s Hair with Food Coloring

It’s easy to use food coloring to dye your fur baby’s fur. You can use the colors as they are or mix the colors to create even more colors. To dye your pup’s fur with food coloring, start off by giving him a bath. This will ensure his fur is clean and free of debris, which will help the color stick to the fur. It’s best to leave him in the tub, as this will keep the mess confined where it can more easily cleaned up afterwards. Next, mix water and food coloring, then you can put the dye into a squirt or spray bottle to apply. You’ll need to soak your canine companion’s hair thoroughly, and once the dye is applied, brush or comb it through your dog’s hair. Then, when you’re done, let your fur baby out of the tub, and have him sit on old towels or newspapers until the dye dries. If you allow him to run around the house, you’ll have a huge mess of color to clean up!

Natural Dyes for Dogs

Another option you can try is to use dyes created with doggie-safe fruits and vegetables. Dyes that are a good choice include:

These fruits and vegetables are all safe for dogs and are a great option to using commercial dog hair dyes. You have more control over the substances in the dye, so your fur baby has a lower risk of having a skin reaction. You can use fresh or frozen veggies and fruits. All you have to do is squeeze the fresh or thawed fruit; using a potato masher will ensure more of the juice is released. You can also put the coloring ingredients into a blender or food processor. Then, to follow the same steps for using food coloring to dye your dog’s fur. Dyeing dog hair with beet juice will give you a reddish/pinkish color; however, if you’d like a different shade, then combine the beet juice with another fruit or veggie of a different color to create the natural dog hair dye.

Tips for Dyeing Your Dog’s Fur

To achieve the best results, follow these tips:

1). Bathe your dog before dyeing his fur, as this will remove dirt, debris and oil that could keep the color from sticking.

2). White and light-colored fur is the easiest to color. Darker fur is more difficult, as the dyed color may not show up well.

3). Avoid getting coloring of any type into your dog’s eyes, ears, nose and mouth.

4). It’s a good idea to wear rubber gloves so your hands don’t become stained by the dye.

5). Be sure to use old towels and/or put down newspaper before coloring your fur baby’s hair. This will give him a place to dry, and you’ll avoid getting dye all over your home and furniture.

We hope this guide has provided the information you need to make the best decision about dyeing your fur baby’s hair. It can be fun for you and your dog; however, if your canine companion doesn’t enjoy a bath or being groomed, it’s best to avoid causing him the stress of dyeing his hair. Also be sure to watch for any skin reactions from the dye you choose—do the patch test to make sure your fur baby’s not allergic to the dye.

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Kyoko is from a family of 3 and moved to New York with her parents and siblings when she was 13. Kyoko is fond of spending a great amount of time with pets, specifically her beagle Luna and cat Missy. Her boyfriend often complains that she spends too much time giving attention to their animals. Kyoko has written dozens of articles concerning pets and is aiming at owning a pet shop one day!

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