WARNING: This story contains graphic images not suitable for all readers
A dog in Florida is recovering after it almost died from severe burns she received when her owner tried to dye the dog’s hair purple using hair colouring meant for people.
According to the Pinellas County Animal Services, Violet, a Maltese mix, was brought in for treatment around October with her injuries, and staff didn’t think she’d make it through the night.
Violet’s eyes were swollen shut, her skin badly burned and she was limp and listless, the Pinellas County Animal Services said in a Facebook post, warning owners from such dye jobs.
She was given IV fluids and pain medication, and the animal hospital staff tried to wash off as much of the chemicals as they could before bandaging her up.
“Then we waited – Violet went home with our veterinarian and we waited,” the post details. “And she came in the next morning and we were amazed that she had made it through the night. But still, we waited. She wasn’t out of the woods but she was alert and freely offering kisses. Good news, but the journey had just begun.”
They then had to shave off her hair to assess the full damage, but during that process, her skin began to slough off.
“It was so much worse than we initially thought – but would this little dog make it through?!?!” they wrote.
For three months Violet endured quite a bit: pain medication, antibiotics, IV fluids, honey treatments, scab removal, anesthetizing and bandage changes, the animal services said.
Luckily the care she was receiving was working as she began to make noises once again, walk the halls and was accepting gentle pets from the staff.
“Still, we worried – did she have permanent blindness?” they asked. “Would there be infection? Would her hair ever grow back? Was there anything we were missing?”
But when the final bandages came off, they found violet with all of her hair back and looking like she was getting back to normal.
“So as you dry up those tears please take one thing away from Violet’s journey – only use products specifically meant for pets or you could be putting your pet’s life on the line.”
Pet owners should not under any circumstance use hair colour intended for human on their pets, the services says. The chemicals in the dye are toxic and can cause extreme injuries, both external and internal.
According to Pinellas County Animal Services, Violet is now living with a new owner, one that has experience in grooming pets, and is doing well.
There are many pet colouring products on the market that are safe for use on animals that are permanent and semi-permanent. However, the use of such products divides animals lovers and experts alike.
For cats, in particular, hair dyes and certain chemicals can be toxic. This is because cats have an altered liver metabolism, making them unable to break down certain drugs or chemicals, the Pet Health Network says. While ethical issues may exist, should a pet dye be used, make sure it is pet-safe, isn’t sugar-free and doesn’t contain xylitol. And just because it may say “natural” on the product label, it doesn’t mean it’s safe.
One 2013 study by Tufts University detailed the case of one eight-year-old Border Collie who had ingested natural hair dye – henna – and developed a life-threatening case of anemia. The dog was lethargic, vomitting, weak and had diarrhea. It was then treated with IV fluids and survived.
Before using these products, it is best to consult with your veterinarian, the Pet Health Network says.