People are putting hand sanitizer on their dog's paws. Here's why you shouldn't

The primary reason that Becker and other experts — including those at the FDA — agree hand sanitizer is potentially harmful as a cleaning agent on paws is because of its drying effects. As an alcohol-based product containing up to 95% alcohol, applying a hand sanitizer can actually be “strong enough to slough their foot pads,” Becker said.Trending stories,celebrity news and all the best of TODAY.“Especially now with COVID, people take them (dogs) out to basically do the New York Marathon, and so you get lots of issues with their foot pads and overheating and respiratory problems, he said. “What that sanitizer does is it can make it more likely to crack and to be more sensitive to having their foot pads burned when they're out on walks.”

Once the foot pad cracks, Becker added that dangerous materials like tar, feces and other debris can get trapped, leading to transmissible diseases such as leptospirosis.

A dog’s paw is as sensitive as a human hand, and drying out the foot pad can cause painful cracks similar to a cracked, dry heel. As a veterinarian, Becker said he often sees dogs with burned paws due to walking on hot concrete or asphalt. A good rule is if the ground is too warm to place your palm down, it is too hot for your dog to walk upon.

The other concern is that ingesting hand sanitizer can be especially harmful for pets. However, Becker says that due to the bitterness of the solution, dogs and other pets would likely be reviled by the taste after a single lick. Even ingesting that small amount can cause digestive issues including vomiting and diarrhea, Becker noted.

A Safe Place. Creating a safe place for your pet is crucial to its comfort. Make sure your pet has its own place of comfort where it can rest, relax and feel secure.