Dogs have been around for approximately 15,000 years, and Bactine since 1950.
It was only a matter of time before our intellectually-adventurous species put 2 + 2 together and pondered,
“Can you use Bactine on dogs?”
Well, here at Joy Pet Products™ we exist for the sole purpose of answering queries like these. And boy, do we have exactly what you’re looking for today.
Yes, you can safely use Bactine on your dog’s minor scrapes, cuts, and scratches. Bactine can be used for a variety of afflictions, and even on canine dermatitis- a condition more commonly known as “hot spots”.
In fact, spraying Bactine on these surface-type wounds can be a better option than using ointments, such as Polysporin or Neosporin, that have a tendency to trap pus and bacteria underneath.
However, using Bactine on dogs is not all rainbows and butterflies, and there are some disadvantages associated with it.
Bactine is composed of two ingredients, the antiseptic benzalkonium chloride and the topical anesthetic lidocaine. It stings when first applied, which can be unpleasant for your dog and result in reactions like yelping and biting.
While both benzalkonium chloride and lidocaine are fine to be applied externally, they can cause minor toxicity issues if ingested. This will be shown in symptoms such as mouth and tongue ulcerations, loss of appetite, drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, and tremors.
So while it is fine to put Bactine on your dog, you’d be well-advised to prevent his mouth and tongue from having access to it. To prevent your dog from licking the substance, either cover the area with a light dressing, or make your dog don the Cone of Shame (E-collar) while it heals!
Is Bactine Safe For Dogs?
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When your pup has been accidentally cut and you have nothing else at home to disinfect the wound, it is safe to use Bactine on your dog as a first aid option.
As good practice, you should always confirm with a vet before using products on a dog that are designed for humans. Many, such as common over-the-counter medications like NyQuil or Excedrin, can have very serious consequences for your pet.
However, Bactine is non-toxic to canines as a topical spray- and has a pretty bad and bitter taste to boot! This unintended quality will help deter your dog from licking at the substance once it has been applied to its abrasion.
Bactine can be used effectively on minor cuts and scrapes that your dog has incurred, such as through grooming accidents or rough play with other dogs.
It is not suitable for puncture wounds, deep slashes or very large lacerations. In those situations, you should take your dog to the vet immediately for professional attention.
What’s In Bactine Anyway, And How Is It Helpful For Dogs?
The Wellspring Pharmaceutical product contains two main active ingredients: benzalkonium chloride 0.13% and lidocaine HCL 2.5%.
While benzalkonium chloride (BAC) sounds like something that Superman might be allergic to, it’s actually just an antiseptic that can help to fight off bacteria and infections. It is commonly included in household cleaning products and antibacterial disinfectants.
BAC has the ability to kill gram-positive (as well as sneakier gram-negative) bacteria, and is one of the safest synthetic biocides that can be used on your dog’s minor injuries. It absorbs quickly, promotes healing under the upper epidermis layer, and just a little amount lasts for a long time.
Lidocaine, while not the long-lost Italian half-brother of Batman’s butler Michael Caine, is nevertheless a very potent and safe topical anesthetic. Its inclusion in Bactine serves the purpose of easing any pain or itching your dog might otherwise experience from its skin wound.
As a local anesthetic, lidocaine numbs only the specific area that it is applied to and prevents unwanted sensations. It works by blocking the movement of sodium ions in cells so that they are unable to communicate with each other, thereby halting nerve activity.
Combined together, the two ingredients make one very potent spray that disinfects, heals and numbs pain at the same time. As such, it is suitable for many different conditions other than just cuts and scratches. Bactine is also effective for:
- Worn paw pads
- Yeast infections
- Staph infections
- Insect bites
- Poison ivy
- Hot spots (dermatitis)
So, Can You Spray Bactine On Dog Hot Spots?
Yes, as the last bullet point above suggested: You can use bactine on your dog’s hot spots.
Hot spots are a type of moist dermatitis that can occur in dogs. The condition results in angry-looking, red lesions that can be filled with pus and ooze when scratched. While they can be found anywhere on the body, they most commonly occur on the head, legs and hips.
Hot spots originate when a dog scratches an itch so hard and continuously that the skin breaks and creates an open wound. In order for hot spots to be healed properly, the underlying cause must be treated.
In the meantime, Bactine spray can be used to halt the pain and itching. The lidocaine content may be able to give a dog relief by numbing the area, while benzalkonium chloride will help to kickstart the healing process via its sterilising properties.
Other medications may be useful too, such as oral steroids like prednisone or antihistamines like Benadryl. However, a vet should always be consulted first before administering any medicine to your pet.
Finally, E-collars are essential when treating hot spots in dogs. The tool will both prevent them from further licking at the inflamed area, as well as stop them from ingesting any ointment or spray that you may have applied.
Hot spots can be a very tricky condition to treat due to its various possible causes, so talking to your vet is definitely the best course of action moving forward.
Bactine For Dogs: Potential Risks
While it is generally safe to use topically on dogs, that’s not to say that Bactine and the ingredients contained within are completely harmless.
Not only does Bactine sting when first applied due to temperature differences and nerve stimulation, but benzalkonium chloride comes with plenty of potential side effects if it is eaten.
Now, you may be thinking, “Well, that’s silly! Why would I feed my pup Bactine when the cut is on its hind leg…?”
Even if you don’t intentionally feed your dog the antiseptic, don’t forget that dogs tend to lick. At everything. A LOT.
And when they lick a wound with Bactine sprayed all over it, they’re going to be swallowing a lot of the substance and suffering negative effects as a result.
Licking at the wound is going to create high concentrations of BAC in the dog’s mouth, leading to damage of the tissues and sores on the mouth and tongue. Other symptoms of benzalkonium chloride ingestion include:
- Loss of appetite
- Increased drooling
- Muscle Weakness
If you discover that your dog has oral ulcerations, it would be a good idea to take it to the vet immediately.
Mild cases will be able to be treated with painkillers, but in more serious situations IV fluids and a feeding tube may be required until the dog’s mouth has healed enough to be able to eat again.
We haven’t even gotten to the possible negative side effects of lidocaine usage yet.
Just like BAC, lidocaine will cause problems when swallowed. Due to its numbing effects, it can cause swallowing difficulties and become a choking risk if it is ingested. Toxicity will kick in if a dog swallows more than 10mg per pound of body weight.
It may even cause complications in a few dogs when applied on the skin. If your dog has a known allergy or hypersensitivity to the drug, or if it has existing heart, liver, or respiratory issues- lidocaine should not be used.
Symptoms of lidocaine toxicity can include:
- Dizziness and drowsiness
If your dog is negatively affected by lidocaine, there is unfortunately no antidote. The only thing that you can do is to wait out the effects, which may last up to 48 hours depending on the amount which was ingested.
So, Can I Use Bactine On My Dog?
Yes, you can quite safely use Bactine on your dog’s minor surface wounds. When it comes to products designed for humans, it is one of the safer first-aid options available for healing your dog in a pinch.
However, making sure your dog recovers properly is much more than slapping on a bunch of Bactine on it and calling it a day. To make sure that a wound heals properly with minimal bleeding, infection, and scarring, you need to make sure it is clean, dry, and secure.
Home Care for A Minor Laceration
Before beginning treatment, see if you have the following items in your first-aid kit:
- Elastic, sterile bandages
- Betadine or other povidone iodine solution
- Gauze pads
As your dog may be feeling understandably distressed, it may be more likely to lash out and bite during treatment. For that reason, it would be an excellent move to muzzle it to prevent any danger occurring to yourself.
Here are the simple, effective steps to treating your dog’s minor cuts:
- Clip back the hair around the laceration to gain better access to the site, and to prevent future potential infection.
- Clean the wound by removing blood and debris from the area with a damp, warm washcloth.
- Use Betadine (or other povidone iodine product) to disinfect by wiping with a soaked gauze pad. Don’t use hydrogen peroxide as it damages tissue, delays healing, and stings like a thousand bees to boot.
- Allow to dry, and then spray the area with Bactine.
- Allow the Bactine to be absorbed, then apply a bandage to protect the wound from external factors (such as your dog licking it directly with its not-so-pleasant saliva).
Butterfly bandages work great in situations like these.
Not only do they close up the cut nicely, but they also prevent the wound from becoming warm and moist. As we all know, ‘warm and moist’ is pretty much a VIP invitation for bacteria to make an open cut their own personal swinger’s party. Let’s keep it dry, aye?
See this video below on how to properly apply a butterfly band-aid:
No matter what type of bandage you choose, make sure it’s not wrapped so tightly that it cuts off blood flow. This will only slow down the healing process.
Finally, you want to make absolutely sure that your dog doesn’t lick at the area, as this will also delay healing and increase the risk of infection.
Though most dogs hate them with an understandable passion, you can do this by placing an E-collar or cone around their neck to stop that from happening. They may hate you for it for now, but they’ll thank you later (or not).
When Should You Take Your Dog To The Vet?
The following types of injuries should be treated professionally by a vet as they require a greater degree of skill, knowledge and care:
- Injuries which have penetrated the skin deeply (such as a bite wound, puncture wound, or deep gash)
- Injuries which cover a lot of surface area on the body
- Injuries which involve a particularly sensitive area
- Injuries which have already become visibly infected (red, swollen, pus-filled, horrific smelling)
Even minor wounds should be treated by the vet if you aren’t comfortable doing so by yourself at home. This will stop a preventable situation from escalating into something much more serious.
If the cut is serious and there is a lot of blood involved, a vet will be able to suture the wound and provide any antibiotics or other supportive procedures as necessary. Until your dog is able to receive medical attention, keep the wound clean and apply pressure to stop the blood flow.
If you have any doubts at all about your pet’s safety and injury, take it to the vet. If you’re in a situation where you can’t afford professional pet care right now (hey, we’ve all been there), read our post on Healing Your Dog And Visiting The Vet On A Budget HERE.
In Summary: Can You Put Bactine On A Dog?
If your dog has gotten itself into a little quarrel with a squirrel and Benzalkonium CL+Lidocaine is all you have on hand, then rest assured: It is generally safe to use Bactine on dogs.
Whether for minor cuts, hot spots, insect bites or rashes, Bactine can both help to disinfect and heal the area, as well as provide numbing relief from itchiness and pain.
However, care does have to be taken that your best friend does not decide to have a Bactine feast and slurp down a whole layer of the substance.
Doing so will not only result in a numb throat and difficulty swallowing, but may also result in serious negative effects such as oral ulcerations, vomiting, dizziness, trouble breathing, and seizures.
All in all, if you decide to use Bactine (or any other medication, really) on your dog- cover it in a suitable dressing, and have the Cone of Shame ready to go!
Heather Abraham is a professional blogger who owns two dogs, a cat, a parrot, and a leopard gecko. She has a connection with animals since she was a child. She shares her love for all pet breeds and provides information on pet food, toys, medications, beds, and everything else.
She is committed to learning about the internal workings of animals. Her work permits her to work closely with knowledgeable vets and obtain practical expertise in animal care. When she is not working, her love of animals continues in her writing. Her goal is to educate and uplift readers who also have a passion for animals through her writing.