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Can You Use Baby Wipes on Dogs?

Dog being wiped with a dog wipe by owner
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Americans love to use pre-moistened wipes–and the data backs it up. According to Statista, based on the U.S. Census data and the Simmons National Consumer Survey (NHCS), 16.31 million Americans reported using pre-moistened wipes/cloths 31 times or more within a week in 2020. 

For one, they are super easy to clean up messes of all kinds in a flash with just a rip and a swipe. Plus, they help neutralize bad smells, and also may help disinfect. Specifically, baby wipes are notoriously gentle on skin. So, if you use them on your kids, you might want to double up and use them on your dogs, too. And as a pet parent, having wipes on hand is a necessity to take care of plenty of accidents, dirt, and grime that your dog can get into. 

But can you use baby wipes on dogs? Or should you really be using pet wipes for dogs that are better suited for their skin? We asked a veterinarian to explain, and to share some of the best dog wipes on the market.

Wiping Down a Dog: When You Might Need to Do It

Wiping down a bulldog with a dog wipe rather than a baby wipe

There are so many instances where wipes come in handy with dogs.

“Wipes are convenient, waterless ways to do a quick and easy clean,” says Dr. Jerry Klein, DVM, veterinarian and American Kennel Club Chief Veterinary Officer.

You may keep a container by the front door to wipe down your dog’s paws after a rainy walk, or carry a tiny package with you to wipe your dog down after a muddy hike before getting in the car. And during winter months in cold climates, sidewalks and streets are often coated with salt, which transfers to your pup’s paws.

They’re also a great grooming tool. Instead of sticking your fingers into your puppy’s ears or eyes, grabbing a wipe is a quick way to easily remove ear wax and eye crusties.

Can You Use Baby Wipes on Dogs?

Dog sitting with a very cute baby cozy on the couch

The simplest and most accurate answer is, unfortunately, no. You shouldn’t use baby wipes on your dog.

“People tend to think that what is safe for humans is also safe for animals, but this is not true,” says Dr. Klein. “Ingredients in human wipes are not formulated for dogs, especially those with fragrances.”

According to Dr. Klein, although a baby’s skin is sensitive, the most important thing to remember is that the natural pH of a human’s skin (baby or adult) is different from the pH of a dog’s skin.  

“A human’s natural skin pH is around 5.5, and a dog’s skin pH is higher (or more alkaline),” says Dr. Klein. “If using a human (baby) wipe on a dog on a regular basis, it could affect and alter the pH of the dog’s skin, and eventually cause irritation. This could lead to secondary concerns such as cracks that could lead to infections.”

Dog licking their paw on the bedspread do not use baby wipes on dog

He also adds that dogs, unlike babies, tend to lick areas that most humans cannot reach, which means that they can ingest more chemicals transferred from the wipes to skin. And over time, those amounts can accumulate and cause possible toxicity.

“Check the ingredients and chemicals that are part of the particular wipes that you intend to use. Propylene glycol is considered a harmful ingredient because it is designed to maintain moisture even when cleaning dirt and debris,” says Dr. Klein. “Even if this might be good for humans, vets strongly advise that this ingredient be kept away from dogs, since it can poison some of your dog’s organs over time.”

Other harmful chemicals in some wipes include: 

  • Butoxy PEG-4 PG-Amodimethicone
  • Phenoxyethanol
  • Polysorbate 20 

“They are considered carcinogens for dogs,” Dr. Klein says.

Instead, dog wipes designed specifically for our canine companions are formulated with safe ingredients. 

“Most dog wipes are made to clean areas that come in contact with dirt, urine, or feces on paws, or to clean up soiled hair and skin near genital areas,” says Dr. Klein. “But some canine wipes are used to do maintenance hygiene cleaning on dogs that have skin folds or excessive tearing near eyes. Ingredients in wipes intended for dog paws are quite different from those in other types of wipes.”

Best Dog Wipes

Dog being wiped by owner not with a baby wipe

When shopping for dog wipes, you should still pay attention to the label, since even wipes specifically made for dogs may contain sketchy ingredients.

“Some popular commercial tear stain products contain the antibiotic tylosin tartrate, which is not approved for the use in dogs,” says Dr. Klein. 

He also suggests staying away from wipes that contain antibiotics, unless prescribed by your veterinarian or canine ophthalmologist.

However, if you’re in a bind, you can use a human/baby wipe on your dog once in a while.

“If you do run out of canine wipes or have to do a necessary emergency wipe, it is acceptable to use a human or baby wipe on a dog, but limit it to a one-time wipe,” says Dr. Klein. “If possible, use a fragrance-free wipe which would have less ingredients that could cause irritation.”