Warning from experts after dye job nearly kills dog

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A 5-year-old Maltese in Florida was at one point near death, because someone used human hair dye to turn its coat purple.

The dog, named Violet, was badly burned by the chemical dye, but has since recovered.

Perhaps you’ve seen a dog with pink ears or a purple tail, but have you ever wondered if it’s safe?

Joseph Edhlund, a veterinarian with Gentle Vets in Hawaii Kai, says he rarely sees dogs with dyed hair.

Though he said he’s never had to help a dog injured from it, he had a warning to dog owners considering doing it.

“Dog’s skin is very delicate and much more delicate that human skin,” he explained. “It’s surprising, but they have a fur coat to protect it, so they don’t need as tough as skin as we have.”

Edhlund advises against dyeing your dog’s coat, but said food coloring is the only suggestion he had for safely dyeing a dog’s hair.

Dog groomer, Ku’uipo Lavao, agreed, adding temporary, non-toxic alternatives.

“It’s basically chalking or Kool-Aid,” Lavao said. “Basically, the kids chalk that you do on the sidewalk, you chalk it on their ears. It’s way safer and it lasts about three or four days until you wash it off.”

She also said if you plan to dye your pet’s hair, it’s best to use a groomer. But you shouldn’t hire just any groomer. You need to do some research.

“Ask how long they’ve been doing it,” Lavao said. “What product they do use and basically it’s just experience the groomer does have.”

She added one more important thing to remember.

“It’s really up to the dog. What is the dog allowing you to do? If the dog stands there, or it can like sit there for 15 to 20 minutes, sure,” Lavao said. “If it’s not willing, it’s not going to happen. Don’t force it, and owners need to be able to hear that your dog doesn’t want it.”

What stance does the Hawaiian Humane Society take on dyeing dog hair?

“The mission of the Hawaiian Humane Society is to promote the humane treatment of all animals,” said Allison Gammel, “and that certainly extends to grooming methods. We do endorse any products that are meant for animals only. Do your research and work with a credible groomer.”

The Hawaiian Humane Society was unable to comment on whether there is a law preventing owners from dyeing their dog’s hair or if it would be considered animal cruelty if the animal is injured in the process.

“Anyone who is dyeing their dog’s hair probably cares a lot about their dog to go the length of dying their hair,” Edhlund said. “Any sort of injury that occurred from it would be negligence and certainly not intentional cruelty.”

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