If you have a dog or if you know someone with a dog, you’ve probably heard about the controversial trend of people “decorating” their pets with nail polish, fur dye, and items of clothing. Is it safe? Should we, as their providers and caregivers, subject dogs to dyed fur and painted nails? Is it a harmless fashion statement or does it border on animal cruelty?

Here’s a deeper look.


Dying a Dog’s Fur

Dyeing dog’s fur has come under scrutiny time and time again, namely when celebrities dye their dog bright colors. In 2015, Parisian fashion model Lia Catreux caused outrage when she posted a photo on Instagram of her dog dyed bright pink, with many calling it animal abuse. Jersey Shore television personality Snooki and Jwoww also came under fire back in 2012 for dying their dogs pink and purple.



Some may think it’s cute, but the dye can affect the dog’s health and safety due to the toxic chemicals. There are hair dyes specific for dogs and food coloring and Kool-Aid can also be used. But there are no completely safe dyes for animals and what’s more, no studies show if there are any long term effects.


As anyone who has had their hair colored or highlighted will tell you, the dye can cause burning, itching and skin irritation. Dogs may have the same reactions. It’s also possible that their skin is more sensitive to the harsh chemicals, such as ammonia or hydrogen peroxide.

During the dying process, a dog could potentially lick his or her coat and could ingest some of the hair toxic hair dye. If they do, that could cause an emergency situation, leading to nausea, vomiting diarrhea, as well as other serious health issues. Dying dogs fur is such a serious issue that it’s illegal in some states. These laws were enacted to protect small animals, particularly around Easter and other holidays. People have even been fined for dying their dogs.


People color their hair for cosmetic reasons but dogs don’t have any understanding of this and it could stress them out. If you have a shy dog, dying their fur so they are bright pink may draw unnecessary attention to them. Dogs don’t care if their fur is colored and it doesn’t increase their overall well-being … so why do it? Dogs already have beautiful, natural coats that range in many different colors.

Painting Nails 

Similar to dying dogs fur, dogs don’t have any understanding of why they are having their nails painted. Similar to human hair dye, human nail polish can be toxic for dogs if they try to bite or lick the polish. Inhaling the fumes could make the dog sick. According to the website, Healthy Pets, “testing done on nail products from California salons, several polishes labeled toxin-free actually contained one or more of the “toxic three” chemicals: dibutyl phthalate (DBP), toluene and formaldehyde.” 




If for whatever reason, you just can’t resist polishing your dog’s nails, make sure to use a quick drying pet-safe polish (there are nail polishes specific for dogs, such as Pawlish and Puppy Paint Nail Polish), as well as a pet-safe polish remover. The dog’s nails, pads, and paws should be in good shape, with no cracks, tears or any open sores that could potentially be aggravated by polish or polish remover. It’s all important to not let your dog bite or lick at their nails until they are dry. If you see your dog licking or chewing their nails after they dry, remove the polish.

If you’re painting your dog’s nails and they keep trying to pull away … they are trying to tell you something: they don’t want their nails painted. There is no reason to stress a dog out just to have pointless polish on their nails!

Dog Costumes  

While dressing up your pet can be fun, be sure that the costume or item of clothing is comfortable for them to wear. Try on the outfit first to see how your pet reacts. If they don’t seem happy when they are in your home, they certainly won’t enjoy it while out. If your pet is okay with being dressed up, make sure there are no stray buttons or decorations that they could easily bite off and potentially choke on.

Dogs are not toys or accessories merely here to please humans. Dogs are loving, smart and loyal beings who want to live their lives in peace, just like how all animals do. We should love and appreciate dogs for exactly who they are and not feel the need to “decorate” them with meaningless items that could be dangerous to their health and potentially even fatal. Dogs love us exactly how we are and we should return the same kindness!


What do you think about “decorating” dogs? Do you think it’s a harmless fashion statement or do you see it as animal abuse? Leave a comment below!

Lead image source: Fluffy the Doggy/Instagram