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Pet Safe Dyes: Tips for Use and Top Brands

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It’s trendy to add bright colors to your hair. So why not let your pooch ride this beauty wave, too, with pet-safe dye? You can color-match with your dog for special occasions, seasonal fun and sporting events.

Can I use human hair dye on my dog? Is it pet safe?

Never use human hair dyes on your dog. Look for dyes manufactured specifically for pets for home use. These typically come in the form of color shampoos, blow pens (you physically blow the color onto your dog) and chalks.

“Most pet-safe dyes are known as depositing dyes,” explains Helen Schaefer, NCMG, CCE, style services specialist and master groomer for grooming specialists Heart + Paw. “They work by delivering a highly concentrated pigment into the hair shaft that clings to the outside of the cortex, under the cuticle. They are peroxide-free, and thus don’t cause damage as they work by ‘staining’ the hair. It’s like spilling red wine on a lighter fabric,” she adds.

How long a color lasts depends on the texture of the coat and the color used. And, there’s no way to predict the timeframe. They can last weeks. Naturally, pet-safe dyes work best on a white coat.

Do pet safe dyes work on dark fur?

“Because these dyes don’t cause chemical changes to the hair, they show up best on light curly/ coarse coats, and work better on coats that have less ‘shine’ to them,” explains Helen.

“For example, the color will hold better on a Bichon than a cream Labrador. Similarly, they will work better on a light-colored Goldendoodle than a smooth Jack Russell Terrier. They can work on darker coats too but in the sunlight will look like a ‘tinge of color,” she adds.

The best pet safe dye brands

When looking for a pet-safe dye, pick a product you can trust. Brands that master groomers give a paws up include:

  • Crazy Liberty has multiple color options of shampoos and gels to temporarily change your dog’s hair color and a line of “permanent” dyes that the company says lasts through more than 24 washes. They also sell an airbrush line and stencil set ($119.90) to spray specific sections or designs onto your dog’s fur. Check website for price ranges.
  • Dog product and grooming company Warren London, recently introduced a line called Warren London Canine Color that offers a selection of eight semi-permanent vibrant shades that gently fade with washes; $16.99 for each color. This is in addition to its Critter Color line of temporary pet fur color shampoos.
  • Davis Studio Color Blow Pens for Pet Hair Color has a 12 pack of bright pens for free hand designs or stencil use. These temporary colors come out with one wash; $20.95.

How to use pet-safe dye

Groomer Helen Shaefer gives 5 tips on dying your pet’s hair at home.

  • Always wear gloves and use old towels
  • For blow pens, chalk and colored hairsprays, hold the hair you intend to color with one hand while applying the color from the can, blow pen or the chalk over the strands
  • Brush the color through with a small soft slicker brush and repeat as necessary to get the desired effect. Rub it in if you are using chalk.
  • To dye the top of a pet’s head without affecting the eyes and ears, squirt some color in the middle of where you want it and pull hair into the “color puddle” using a standard hair dye brush
  • Avoid getting too close to the eyes. For added safety, use a protecting eye lubricant, such as mineral oil-based one sold in pharmacies. Also avoid getting it into any mucus membrane areas, such as the nose and mouth. Be careful around genitals and paw pads too.

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