Can I Use Desitin On My Dog? [And When Should You?]

dog has itchy skin and needs to use cream like desitin

You can use Desitin on a dog, just make sure your dog doesn’t lick it since some of the ingredients can be toxic when ingested. Make sure you also monitor your dog after applying Desitin. Although most dogs will handle it fine, in rare cases, it can cause a reaction. 

Desitin has many uses for humans: it helps prevent and treat diaper rashes, treat yeast infections, and protect minor scrapes and burns. Its most commonly recognized use is to treat diaper rashes on babies.

But a question dog owners ask all the time is if Desitin can be used on their dog. It’s not a bad question – many people are scared to use human medicine on dogs.

It can be hard finding a clear, concise answer on the internet, so we’re here to give you one.

The Short Answer

Desitin can be used on your dog. Most people go by the general rule of thumb that if you can put something on a baby, you can use it on a dog.

However, dogs and humans are two different organisms. It’s not the same to use Desitin on a dog as using it on a person.

Although Desitin is in the category of human medicines that could be used on pets, you still need to be cautious. Like humans, dogs differ in how they react to medication. Dogs can have allergies too!

The main concern of using Desitin on dogs is that they’ll ingest it. Dogs have a habit of licking their wounds, so if you are going to use Desitin on your dog, make sure they can’t lick it. Desitin is toxic if ingested.

Generally though, provided that your dog won’t lick off the Desitin, there’s no harm in using Desitin on your dog. It is a strong medication, but as long as you monitor your dog, your dog should be fine.

What Could You Treat With Desitin (For Dogs)?

Many pet owners use Desitin to treat dogs with minor injuries such as small scrapes, raw skin, and rashes.

Desitin shields the wound from moisture and dirt, so it is an excellent choice to help your dog. But, for more severe wounds, such as deep scratches or big rashes, or wounds close to their eyes or genitals, it’s better to consult with your veterinarian first.

These injuries are more severe, and your veterinarian should take a look first and check for an infection.

Another common way to use Desitin is to put it on the dog’s paws. Since dogs, especially puppies, run around a lot, their paws can become raw, and it hurts for them to walk. Desitin helps soothe this injury.

Why Could Desitin Be Bad For Dogs?

Some people advise against using Desitin on dogs. Dogs have a habit of licking their wounds, and Desitin is toxic if ingested.

Desitin’s active ingredient is zinc oxide, which will aggravate the GI tract if it comes into contact with it.

Since their GI tract will become irritated, dogs will instinctively throw up to get the irritant out.

Unfortunately, there’s a chance the cream can get into the dog’s lungs (aspirated) on the way out. This could lead to a severe case of lung pneumonia. Of course, this situation isn’t guaranteed to happen, but it still is a legitimate concern.

If you choose to use Desitin on your dog, make sure they won’t eat it. It’s important to remember that most medicines that aren’t meant to be ingested will cause unpleasant side effects if consumed.

As always, make sure to exercise proper caution when giving your dog medicine and everything should be well.

How To Use Desitin On Your Dog (the Right Way)

Like giving medicine to anyone, there’s always a right way to do so and a wrong way to do so. Since giving medication to dogs can be difficult, we’ve outlined the steps for you below.

1. Check With Your Veterinarian

Before you use any medicine on a dog, you should consult with a veterinarian. Dogs have allergies just like humans do. Although Desitin, which is composed of zinc oxide, is a rare allergy, it’s still theoretically possible.

It’s always a good idea to double-check with your veterinarian and see if you can use Desitin on your dog. They could notify you of a potential allergic reaction or tell you if there’s a better way to treat your dog’s wound. Better safe than sorry!

2. Prepare Medicine

Since Desitin is a cream, it doesn’t take much effort to prepare. Make sure that it’s room temperature and that your hands are washed before you move on to the next step.

Ideally, it would be better to apply Desitin with disposable gloves, but we understand that gloves can seem over the top or unnecessary for many dog owners. As long as your hands are clean, you should be ready to go.

3. Get Your Dog Ready

Dogs always seem to know when it’s medicine time. Evaluate your dog’s temperament. If your dog doesn’t take medicine well or they get nippy in stressful situations, put on a muzzle or restrain them.

If your dog is more laid back, then you can just approach them normally. Your dog should be still when applying the medicine.

Make sure that your dog’s wound is dry and clean. If the wound is moist, make it completely dry before you apply the Desitin. Applying medicine to a wet wound will only irritate it and, in extreme cases, cause an infection.

4. Apply the Desitin

Taking the size of your dog and the size of the wound into account, scoop a generous amount of Desitin onto the wound. Make sure not to slather the wound with Desitin, since it won’t have any added effect and could cause irritation.

Lightly massage the wound until the cream has disappeared. Don’t rub the wound vigorously.

If the dog is small, take extra caution with the amount of Desitin you put on the wound. Too much cream has an increased risk of irritation for them.

If the dog has long hair, you can either trim the hair down or go to your veterinarian for their opinion. A wound that’s constantly in contact with dog hair won’t remain clean for very long, and it is more likely to become infected.

5. Afterwards

If the wound is in a space where your dog can easily lick or scratch, either put a cone (the cone of shame) on your dog or, depending on the size of your dog, dress them in loose baby clothes.

Putting clothes on your dog is a bit odd, but it’s a fantastic way to keep a dog from ingesting the Desitin. Out of sight, out of mind.

Do NOT muzzle your dog to keep them from licking their wounds. Muzzles are perfectly fine for short periods, about 20 minutes or so, depending on how tight the muzzle is.

But, leaving a muzzle on a dog for a long time could cause your dog to overheat. Dogs open their mouths to regulate their temperatures, and muzzles interfere with that.

Depending on the size of the wound, apply Desitin 2-4 times a day. Before you put the cream on each time, make sure to clean the wound.

Additionally, the wound should be dry and not display any symptoms of irritation. Some common symptoms of irritation are swelling, additional rashes or blisters, and cracked skin.

It’s also not a bad idea to evaluate how your dog is reacting to the medication. If your dog is whining and whimpering, take them to the veterinarian. Home remedies are useful, but veterinarians are trained and have more expertise on how to treat animals.

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