Dry skin, cuts, bumps, rashes, and scrapes - oh my! Your dog may experience all of these over the course of their busy and active life. Most of these issues are not serious and may never require medical treatment. How do you treat them in a way that is supportive to your dog’s overall health? Is vaseline or another topical treatment your best bet?
What is vaseline?
Vaseline is a brand of petroleum jelly made by in the US by Unilever. There are also many generic petroleum jelly products on the market. Petroleum jelly is a mix of waxes and mineral oil that can be used to seal in moisture and relieve dry skin. It has been used as part of many people’s skincare regimens for more than 140 years.
Today, many people still keep it on hand to heal dry skin, protect wounds or for cosmetic uses including highlighting cheekbones and keeping lips soft. In addition to just plain petroleum jelly, the vaseline product line has expanded to include lotions and lip balms. While it is a pretty common and widely used product for humans, it should be used with caution on your dog.
Is vaseline is toxic for dogs?
Technically no, vaseline is not toxic to your dog. It is also usually not the best choice as your dog can lick it off their skin or paws. If your pup ingests enough they might get an upset stomach, which can lead to vomiting or diarrhea if they ingest enough.
While vaseline might feel soothing, there is no scientific evidence that it works. Furthermore, if your pup has a rash or skin irritation, your best bet is to consult your vet and get a diagnosis and appropriate treatment for whatever is going on. What you don’t want to do is assume your pup has dry skin when they really are having an allergic reaction or dermatitis that requires a prescription to treat. Your vet can do an exam and perform the appropriate tests to make sure you know exactly what is going on with your pup - and the best course of treatment for their issue.
So, while in small quantities vaseline won’t hurt your dog, it’s probably not your best bet in any situation. If you’re using it on your own skin and your pup licks you, don’t worry, it’s not a big deal!
Use caution when using vaseline
As discussed, vaseline is not your best bet for treating your pup. In addition to the ability to cause some tummy trouble, vaseline use might come with some additional risks.
It is important to remember that vaseline is a petroleum-based product. Like mineral oil, it is a byproduct of oil refining. While this alone might sound a little scary, remember that it goes through a purification process before it ends up on drugstore shelves.
According to dermatologist Dr. Alan Dattner, the founder of HolisticDermatology.com, the components of oil removed during the making of petroleum jelly are, in some cases, cancer-causing. While Vaseline itself, is highly refined and purified and classified as non – carcinogenic, the same is not known about all other brands. Dr. Dattner states: “Vaseline supposedly has all of these compounds removed, but there are probably plenty of imitators and one doesn’t know the extent that they’re removed.” All of this is a long way of saying you should do your research before putting any petroleum-based products on your (or your pet’s) skin. If you cant verify that a product is non-carcinogenic, it is best to skip purchasing it.
What should I use on my dog instead of vaseline?
If you need a natural moisturizer that is safer for your pup try coconut oil. Remember that some pups love the flavor of coconut oil and will lick it off - even though this won’t hurt your dog, you won’t get the intended effect. Try to avoid letting your pup lick it all off so it can do its magic on your pup’s skin.
- Musher's Secret is a popular paw protectant. It is made from beeswaxes and vegetable oils. It can be used to protect your best friend’s paws from ice, salt, and chemicals on the sidewalks as well as hot sand and rough terrain.
- 4Legger has a healing balm for noses, paws and dry skin that is USDA certified organic. It is made with beeswax and herbs to heal and moisturize but still allow your pet’s pores to breathe. Before using make sure to read the ingredients and instructions. Use according to the directions, unless your pet is allergic to any of the ingredients. In that case, you’ll need to find something else.
- The Natural Hound reminds customers that: “Petroleum jelly provides an occlusive barrier that will seal in moisture already in the skin, but adds no moisture and does not allow moisture or oxygen to be absorbed from the atmosphere, essentially making skin drier over time. When applied to your dog’s paw pads or nose, it does not allow the skin to breathe. This can prevent healing and encourage an environment that encourages the growth of harmful fungi.” Instead, they recommend their Natural Hound Paw Balm and Nose Balm which contain all-natural and human-grade ingredients - which are listed right on the label.
- You could also try a medicated shampoo if your pet has some dry, itchy skin. Products like Dermabenss or Vet’s Best Allergy Itch Relief Shampoo can work wonders on a dog with dry itchy skin. If the issue does not resolve itself when using these products, you’ll want to consult your vet to make sure your dog isn’t having a more serious issue like a food allergy or more serious skin problem.
The Ollie blog is devoted to helping pet parents lead healthier lives with their pups. If you want to learn more about our fresh, human-grade food, check out MyOllie.com.