Lotions & Creams:  Is it Okay if my Pet Licks Them?  | PetFirst
Lotions & Creams:  Is it Okay if my Pet Licks Them? 
Pet Care & Health

Lotions & Creams:  Is it Okay if my Pet Licks Them? 

by PetFirst Pet Insurance
5 months ago

In the midst of rehydrating with your favorite lotion or while you’re slathering on sunscreen poolside, keep an eye out for your furry friend as he or she may come to you with tongue in slurp motion ready to lick away!

Wondering why your pooch or feline would want to lick these types of substances to begin with? Some dogs and cats seem to like the taste and smells of lotions and creams as many are made with coconut, avocado and other enticing scents. However, many lotions contain medication, zinc, insect repellant and other ingredients dangerous for consumption by your pets. 

Lotions, Creams, and Body Washes

There are many types of lotions, creams, body washes and other sanitizing products pets may want to lick. Don’t be fooled into thinking they are innocuous just because you can purchase them without a prescription.

Many products intended for humans are not safe for pets and are certainly not meant to be ingested. Humans and canines are different species, and even though most topical over the counter creams and lotions will not cause your pets serious issues, some can. Discourage licking behavior to prevent any health problems from occurring.   

Although some of these creams, such as steroid and triple-antibiotic ointments for example, may be recommended by your veterinarian to use on your dog, you must follow directions given by your veterinarian and again, discourage licking behavior by your cat and dog. 

Treating a skin wound with a medication is quite different than ingesting it through the mucous membranes and stomach, so if your dog isn’t good abiding by ‘leave it,’ extreme measures such as ‘the cone of shame’ (aka an Elizabethan Collar) or other methods to prevent his or her licking may be in order for safety’s sake. When applying topicals to your dog, carefully trim the fur with blunt-nosed scissors around the cut or scrape and apply the least amount of ointment needed so that it will soak in quickly. 

Hand Sanitizer 

It is also important to note that harm can also come from hand sanitizer! Recently, the FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine posted a warning6 about hand sanitizer:

Attention Pet Owners: Do not use hand sanitizer to clean your pet’s paws. It can cause poisoning if absorbed through the skin. Hand sanitizer products can make your dog sick if eaten.’ 

Additionally, hand sanitizers may contain: 

  • Ethanol which can lead to alcohol poisoning 
  • Benzalkonium chloride which is can be found in alcohol-free products resulting in hypersalivation and ulcers of the lips and tongue 
  • Triclosan which may cause antibiotic resistance, skin cancer and has been reported to alter hormone regulation in animals 
  • Methanol which has been reported to cause severe problems in humans; it is highly toxic and although it hasn’t been studied in dogs yet, err on the side of caution 

It is important to remember that what is not absorbed through the paw pads and belly skin, will be ingested when your pet grooms. Additionally, your dog’s ultra-sensitive olfactory system may be on toxic overload with chemicals used for cleaning.

If you have pets in the house at anytime, be sure to use pet-friendly agents for all your disinfecting needs. 

Harmful if ingested by your pets 

Should Fido run off with a tube or cannot resist licking your arm after you have applied any of types of these products, it would be best to call your veterinarian or poison control immediately. When calling be sure to provide the name of the product, approximate amount of ingestion, and any side effects your dog or cat is experiencing.

While the container itself may become a choking hazard or intestinal obstruction, there are other dangers personal use products7 can cause our pets: 





5-fluorouracil, 5-FU and Efudex 

Treat solar keratosis, skin cancer 

Vomiting, diarrhea, uncontrollable seizures, bone marrow suppression and death! 

Anti-fungal cream 

Athlete’s foot, nail fungus, yeast infections 

Vomiting, diarrhea 

Calamine lotion 

Poison Ivy and other itches 

Zinc poisoning: vomiting & diarrhea (potentially with blood), breathing difficulty, jaundice/liver damage (yellowing of the whites of the eyes, gums, inner ear flaps and other mucous membranes) 

Diaper rash ointment 

Treat diaper rash 

Zinc poisoning (see above) 

Hormone creams (estrogen, progesterone, testosterone) 

Endocrin disrupter 

Mammary gland enlargement, false pregnancy 


Hair regrowth but was initially invented to regulate blood pressure 

Fluid buildup in lungs resulting in heart failure!  Vomiting & lethargy are early signs. 


Adding moisture, softness and a pleasant scent to the skin 

Drooling, vomiting and diarrhea. These products contain humectants and emollients which become oily when they make contact with the stomach causing various degrees of gastrointestinal distress. 

Muscle-ache creams 

Pain relief 

Aspirin-like compounds (Salicylates) can cause bloody vomiting and even stomach ulcers while those containing menthol and capsaicin can also irritate the GI tract. 

Steroid creams (hydrocortisone) 

Itchy skin 

Vomiting, diarrhea, increased thirst, urination, heavy panting 


Prevent sunburn 

Stomach distress but many contain zinc oxide (see above) 

Triple-antibiotic creams/ointments 

Cuts, scrapes, wounds 

Vomiting and diarrhea 

Vitamin A creams (retinoids) 

Treat acne 

Stomach upset and birth defects in developing puppies 

Vitamin D creams (Calcipotriene, brand name Dovonex) 

Treat psoriasis 

Vomiting, kidney failure, death! 

 Remember, “Lotions & creams, is it okay if my dog licks them off me? NO!” Teaching ‘leave it,’ ‘drop it,’ and/or ‘no’ are your best tools to use in addition to storing these types of products out of paws reach!

When the worst happens, have your veterinarian or poison control on speed dial, and do all you can for your precious furry family member.

Here at PetFirst1, we know accidents and illnesses can happen to all pets. PetFirst Pet Insurancecan help cover unexpected vet visits2 and can provide peace of mind. PetFirst Pet Insurance1 has cat and dog insurance policies2 to fit every budget. 

Consider getting pet insurance for your furry friend today.


Denise Fleck is the Pet Safety Crusader™ having personally taught more than 20,000 humans to rescue Rover or help Fluffy feel better.  Her mission is to help YOU make a difference in the life of an animal through Pet First-Aid, Senior Pet Care and Disaster Preparedness classes, her “The Pet Safety Bible,” and the dozen other books she has penned.  Learn more at www.PetSafetyCrusader.com  

6“People are Putting Hand Sanitizer on their Dogs’ Paws:  Here’s Why You Shouldn’t,” Christopher Cicchiello

7“The Cute Little Habit That Can Sicken Your Pet or Worse,” Dr. Karen Becker

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