Are Bleach Baths Safe For Dogs?

dog taking a bath

It is not recommended to give your dog a bleach bath unless you have approval from the vet. Although extremely diluted bleach baths have many benefits (including relieving irritated skin and fighting ringworm), they should only be done under veterinary supervision or approval. 

While bleach is very dangerous if consumed, a diluted mixture with bleach in it can actually help treat many skin conditions in dogs. 

A recent study revealed that an extremely diluted bleach mixture can relieve irritation and clean dog skin. However, the toxic nature of bleach means you should ALWAYS ask your vet before using it anywhere near your pet. 

The study mentioned above was extensively controlled and used less than half of a percent of bleach in the solution in question. For this reason, unless you are a veterinary scientist, it is not recommended to use bleach on your dog. 

If your dog has a skin condition, your vet may have another, more personalized solution for the problem. Skin infections often require medical treatment, so make your first step consulting a trusted veterinarian before using a bleach solution for your dog. 

Although we do not recommend a bleach bath, bleach can offer solutions to common problems many dog owners face. Let’s discuss those below.

Diluted Bleach Can Solve Problems

Once your vet gives you the go-ahead for using a bleach solution, prep your mixture. Never use undiluted bleach, as it can be very damaging to the skin and soft tissues. Likewise, keep your bleach mixture away from your dog’s eyes, ears, and nose. 

Undiluted bleach can cause issues such as coughing, vomiting, and even chemical burns. Never use bleach for bathing your dog unless your vet explicitly tells you “you need to use a bleach bath for your dog.” 

The dangerous nature of bleach means that it must be handled carefully. Whatever problem your dog has can most likely be fixed with a much safer shampoo or another treatment method that does not carry the same risks that bleach does.

Fighting Ringworm

You will not be pouring bleach on your dog’s ringworm to get rid of it, but you can use bleach to disinfect the play area of your dog to prevent the ringworm from re-surging. 

Ringworm is identifiable by the unique pattern that it leaves on the skin. You will notice round, crusty patches on your dog’s skin and coat. 

The ringworm fungus is common and not necessarily life-threatening. However, it is still a health hazard and can be transferred to humans. 

If your dog has ringworm, your vet will probably give you an antibiotic, ointment, or shampoo to treat it (or maybe all three). However, these treatments will only treat your dog. They will not eliminate any remaining fungus that may linger in your dog’s living area and reinfect them. 

In this case, you can use one part bleach to ten parts of water to disinfect the dog’s areas. Spray this solution on locations you think the fungus may exist, and let it dry before allowing your dog into the area. You can also frequently vacuum these places (and dispose of the bag immediately) to remove any last traces. 

Washing Bedding

If your dog has a problem with fleas or other parasites, wash their bedding with bleach. This is a very similar technique to dealing with ringworm. 

The bleach itself will not be making contact with your dog, but it will be the way to clean their living arrangements. 

Hot water and bleach will disinfect your dog’s bedding and plush toys, killing any bacteria, fungus, or parasites that may try to find a place to live. 

Always make sure that your dog’s accessories are fully dry before giving them back to avoid exposure to bleach fumes. 

Cleaning your dog’s bedding regularly will ensure that they do not develop skin conditions or other issues. If your dog’s bedding still smells after a bleach wash, it’s best to replace it.

But Can I Use a Bleach Bath to Clean My Dog?

If you need to clean your dog, there is a whole host of different shampoos and soaps that are available for any need. 

You should not have to use a bleach solution on your dog except in the absolute most extreme cases, and even then, it should be prescribed by a veterinarian. 

If your dog is suffering from a skin issue or coat problem, ask your vet for a recommendation. They will often be able to point you towards a shampoo that will be the best option for your particular dog.

Oatmeal Shampoo Instead of Bleach

One of the most common shampoo types for dogs, oatmeal shampoo, has numerous health benefits. Oatmeal baths can rehydrate your dog’s skin and get their coats glossy and healthy. 

Colloidal oatmeal baths have been used to treat itchiness and irritation for centuries. To give your dog an oatmeal bath, you will need to grind up a cup of colloidal oatmeal until it is a powder and mix it with a cup of baking soda in the tub. 

This bathing technique is simple to prepare at home. All you need is oatmeal, baking soda, and a blender or food processor. 

If this is not an option for you, many pet stores and vet offices will sell pre-made oatmeal shampoos for dogs. These are an excellent (and often affordable) option to treat your dog’s skin irritation. 

You Don’t Need Bleach to Whiten Your Dog’s Coat

White dogs are tough to keep white. The daily amount of dirt and outside pollutants that make their way onto your dog’s coat will yellow and darken their coat, often very quickly. 

This can be very frustrating for dog owners. Your dog’s coat can be stained from a variety of sources, including their own saliva when grooming. However, there are solutions for every cause of staining, so with a bit of work, you can keep your dog nice and white.

Diet Treatments

Your dog may have reddish staining on its coat because of diet problems. They may have an infection that causes this type of discoloration. 

In this case, your vet will give your dog an antibiotic and may recommend that you add a small amount of apple cider vinegar to their food as well. 

Special Shampoos

You can also find specially designed shampoos to keep your dog white. Bluing shampoos cancel out the yellow stains in your dog’s coat to create a sort of optical illusion. 

Because of how light interacts with your dog’s coat, the blue of the shampoo will mix with the yellow of their stains and appear to be white. 

You can also remove the yellow stains themselves through an enzymatic or clarifying shampoo. These are designed to lift the stains entirely from your dog, returning them to the true white color of their original coat. 

Bleaching Agents

If you are looking to use a bleaching agent on your white dog’s coat to keep it pristine, it is important to remember that these do NOT use bleach itself. 

Instead, they rely on the power of hydrogen peroxide, which whitens without being as abrasive and toxic as bleach. 

However, you should still keep these chemicals away from your dog’s eyes, nose, and inner ears. You can find bleaching shampoos and pastes at pet stores and vet offices, or you can make your own. To create your own bleaching paste, mix unflavored milk of magnesia with 10-20% hydrogen peroxide in equal quantities. Add in cornstarch to thicken the mixture into a paste. 

If you are making your own products at home, always consult your vet before using them to double-check both their effectiveness and safety.

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