Mask, hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes. This has become the new checklistfor whenever people leave the house in the time of coronavirus. Recentlyhowever, an ever-expanding list of almost 90 hand sanitizers have come underscrutiny for containing methanol, a type of wood alcohol that can be toxicwhen absorbed through the skin. But it’s not just the type of hand sanitizerwe’re using, it’s also how we’re using it that’s under scrutiny.

A new warning from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) suggests that petowners are using the solution to clean their dogs’ paws.

“Attention Pet Owners: Do not use hand sanitizer to clean your pet’s paws. Itcan cause poisoning if absorbed through the skin. Hand sanitizer products canmake your dog sick if eaten,” the FDA tweeted.

TODAY spoke with veterinarian Dr. Marty Becker, the founder of Fear Free HappyHomes, a website dedicated to educating pet owners on safe practices in caringfor their beloved animals.

The primary reason that Becker and other experts — including those at the FDA— agree hand sanitizer is potentially harmful as a cleaning agent on paws isbecause of its drying effects. As an alcohol-based product containing up to95% alcohol, applying a hand sanitizer can actually be “strong enough toslough their foot pads,” Becker said.

“Especially now with COVID, people take them (dogs) out to basically do theNew York Marathon, and so you get lots of issues with their foot pads andoverheating and respiratory problems, he said. “What that sanitizer does is itcan make it more likely to crack and to be more sensitive to having their footpads burned when they’re out on walks.”

Once the foot pad cracks, Becker added that dangerous materials like tar,feces and other debris can get trapped, leading to transmissible diseases suchas leptospirosis.

A dog’s paw is as sensitive as a human hand, and drying out the foot pad cancause painful cracks similar to a cracked, dry heel. As a veterinarian, Beckersaid he often sees dogs with burned paws due to walking on hot concrete orasphalt. A good rule is if the ground is too warm to place your palm down, itis too hot for your dog to walk upon.

The other concern is that ingesting hand sanitizer can be especially harmfulfor pets. However, Becker says that due to the bitterness of the solution,dogs and other pets would likely be reviled by the taste after a single lick.Even ingesting that small amount can cause digestive issues including vomitingand diarrhea, Becker noted.

In the event that a dog or other pet has ingested too much hand sanitizer,they run the risk of ethyl alcohol poisoning and you should call your vet.According to PetMD, there are some symptoms to look for in your pet:

  • Drowsiness, lack of coordination or unconsciousness
  • Involuntary urination or defecation
  • Depression
  • Increased excitement
  • Slow reflexes
  • Slowed breathing

How to wash your pet’s paws

While Becker advised against washing dogs’ paws with hand sanitizer, he didsuggest numerous alternatives also backed by PetMD.

“If you really thought about what was on your dog’s feet, it’d probably freakyou out because they’re walking through their own feces, animal feces, stuffthat’s on the sidewalk in the city,” Becker said. “I like people to cleantheir pet’s paws at least two to three times a week. If you’re walking them ina place that’s really dirty, it doesn’t hurt to wash, to clean them everyday.”

For his own pets, Becker uses Rescue Animal Health Disinfectant Wipes, whichhe says is an easy way to clean each paw when your dog comes into the houseafter a long walk.

For mud and debris that perhaps a wipe simply cannot handle, PetMD recommendswashing the foot pads with a sink sprayer and some dog shampoo, checking forcuts and cleaning around the toes as important measures to keeping dogshealthy.

“I would just use any kind of mild hand soap or dish soap, it doesn’t matter,but it should be really diluted. Like Dawn is a good example. Dawn is used alot because it cuts grease and loosens the tar on their feet,” Becker said.

Becker said stores sell what he likened to a beer koozie which you can fillwith soapy, diluted water and stick your pets’ paw in to clean them. In thewintertime, PetMD suggests dog booties as a preventive measure against snowand salt getting on the paws.

“You don’t want to overreact and use hand sanitizer,” Becker said.

Source: Yahoo News

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