WASHINGTON — Question:
Is there a high risk that pets will die by licking the fingers of people wearing hand sanitizer?
No. Our experts say that small dosages are not deadly, and due to hand sanitizers "unpalatable" taste, the pet is unlikely to consume a large quantity. Simply put, it tastes gross, so pets will stop licking.
Pet Poison Helpline
Dr. Christine Klippen, ER VET at Friendship Hospital For Animals
Amid the spread of the coronavirus, people have started to increase the amount of hand sanitizer they use. This has prompted concerns from pet owners.
On Facebook post with a frightening claim has bene making the rounds.
"Pet owners," it reads in all caps, "Please be aware that hand sanitizer has the same ingredients as Antifreeze."
The post then warns that pets can die if they lick off the sanitizer.
Dr. Christine Klippen, an ER vet at the Friendship Hospital for Animals, said that hand sanitizer is actually not quite so similar to antifreeze.
"They are different," she said. "And they cause different problems."
Antifreeze can cause some very serious issues for pets, such as kidney failure, Klippen said. But when it comes to hand sanitizer, she's not as worried.
"Hand sanitizer itself doesn't taste good," she said. "So you are not likely to see an animal drinking large quantities, or enough to make them ill."
Klippen estimated that an average-sized pet would need to drink close to a cup of hand sanitizer to be impacted, which she said was unlikely due to the taste.
The Pet Poison Hotline listed hand sanitizer as "unpalatable" for pets.
The takeaway? It's obviously a bad idea to let your pet consume hand sanitizer, but simply licking your fingers will not be enough to harm them.