Can You Use Calamine Lotion on Dogs? (The Skin Deep Answer)

Dogs, like humans, can be prone to various skin issues, ranging from allergies to infections, and the search for effective treatments is always ongoing.

One such treatment is calamine lotion, commonly used by humans for itchy skin conditions. But can you use calamine lotion on dogs? That’s a question we aim to answer in this comprehensive guide.

Calamine lotion is not recommended for dogs because it contains zinc oxide, which can cause gastrointestinal distress and anemia if ingested. If a dog licks the lotion, it can upset its stomach. Instead, consider safer alternatives like oatmeal or baking soda baths. Always consult with a Vet before trying new treatments.

What is Calamine Lotion?

Calamine lotion is a tried and tested solution that has been providing relief to people for centuries. It’s an over-the-counter topical solution primarily designed to alleviate discomfort caused by minor skin irritations such as insect bites, poison ivy, sunburn, or mild rashes.

A central ingredient in calamine lotion is zinc oxide. Zinc oxide is a powerful compound with astringent (skin-tightening) and soothing properties. It works to calm the itchiness and inflammation that often accompanies skin irritations. It also creates a barrier on the skin’s surface, protecting it from harmful elements while aiding natural healing.

Another key component of calamine lotion is ferric oxide, also known as iron(III) oxide. It gives calamine lotion its characteristic pink color, adding to its soothing capabilities.

But the question remains: is it a suitable remedy for dogs despite calamine lotion’s extensive history in human medicine?

While its soothing properties may appear beneficial, the safety and suitability of calamine lotion for dogs is a topic of extensive discussion, which we will delve into in the following sections.

Common Skin Issues in Dogs

Skin issues in dogs are indeed common and can manifest in various forms. Just like humans, dogs have sensitive skin that can be affected by environmental and internal factors. Common Skin Issues in Dogs are:

  • External Parasites: Fleas and ticks are common culprits that can cause skin irritation, redness, and itching in dogs. Some dogs may even develop an allergic reaction to flea saliva, known as flea allergy dermatitis.
  • Dermatitis: Dermatitis can occur due to various triggers, such as food allergies, environmental allergens, or sensitivity to certain materials. Atopic dermatitis is a chronic skin disease associated with allergies and one of the dogs’ most common skin conditions.
  • Bacterial Infections: These often occur secondary to other skin conditions like allergies or parasites or injuries. Staphylococcus bacteria are commonly involved and can cause symptoms like pustules, scaling skin, hair loss, and color changes.

These skin conditions are typically treated with medicated shampoos or creams, antibiotics to combat bacterial infections, or anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce swelling and discomfort.

 How to Use Calamine Lotion on Dogs

If you have received the green light from your vet to use calamine lotion on your dog, following the correct procedure is important. Improper application can lead to potential risks, such as ingestion or eye contact. Here’s a step-by-step guide:

  1. Prepare the area: Clean the affected area with a mild dog-friendly soap. This step ensures you’re applying the lotion on a clean surface free of dirt or other irritants.
  2. Dry the area: After cleaning, gently pat the area dry. Avoid rubbing as it may cause further irritation. The skin should be completely dry before applying the lotion.
  3. Apply the lotion: Now, you can apply a small amount of calamine lotion to the affected area. Use a cotton ball or a clean piece of cloth for this. Do not apply directly from the bottle to avoid contaminating the lotion.
  4. Avoid sensitive areas: Avoid getting the lotion in your dog’s eyes, mouth, or open wounds. These areas can be sensitive to calamine lotion and may lead to complications if exposed.
  5. Observe your dog: After application, observe your dog for discomfort or adverse reactions. If you notice anything unusual, such as increased itchiness, redness, or any other signs of distress, wash the lotion off immediately with warm water and mild soap.
  6. Contact your vet: If your dog shows any adverse reaction, contact your vet immediately. They can guide the next steps to take.

Safety Precautions & Possible Side Effects

Choosing to use calamine lotion on your dog should not be taken lightly. Ensuring that you adhere to safety guidelines can help mitigate potential risks. Here are the precautions and possible side effects that dog owners should be aware of:


  • Patch test: As with any new treatment, always start with a patch test. Apply a small amount of calamine lotion to a less sensitive area of your dog’s skin. Wait 24 hours to see if any reaction occurs before applying it to a larger or more sensitive area.
  • Avoid ingestion and eye contact: Ensure your dog does not lick the treated area, and do your best to prevent the lotion from getting into its eyes. Calamine lotion contains ingredients that can be harmful if ingested or come into contact with the eyes.
  • Monitor your dog: Keep an eye on your dog after application. Some dogs may react negatively to the lotion, so immediate intervention can help prevent any adverse effects from worsening.

Possible Side Effects:

Even with precautions, dogs may still experience side effects from calamine lotion, which include:

  • Skin reactions: Allergic reactions may occur, including increased itchiness, redness, or swelling in the area where the applied lotion.
  • Gastrointestinal issues: If your dog manages to ingest the lotion, it may experience symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.
  • Blood disorders: Ingestion can also affect your dog’s red blood cells, possibly causing anemia.

In case of emergencies, do not hesitate to contact your vet immediately. An animal poison control center can provide immediate guidance if you cannot reach your vet.

Always remember your dog’s safety is the ultimate priority, and no treatment should compromise that.

Alternatives to Calamine Lotion for Dogs

If using calamine lotion on your dog makes you uneasy or your vet advises against it, various alternatives are available. Both conventional and natural remedies exist to address canine skin issues, which are often safer and more targeted options than calamine lotion. Here are a few you might consider:

  • Over-the-counter topical treatments: Many creams, sprays, and ointments are created to alleviate canine skin problems. These products are formulated with the unique needs of a dog’s skin in mind, making them safe and often more effective than human skincare products.
  • Hydrocortisone: One such over-the-counter solution is hydrocortisone cream, widely used to soothe itchy dog skin. This steroid cream helps reduce inflammation and offers quick relief from itching and irritation.
  • Natural remedies: If you prefer a more holistic approach, consider aloe vera and coconut oil, both known for their soothing properties. Oatmeal baths are another popular method, as oatmeal can help to moisturize and soothe dry, itchy skin.
  • Prescription medications: Your vet might recommend prescription medications for severe or persistent skin issues. These are usually very effective and targeted treatments, tackling the root cause of the skin condition.
  • Specialized dog shampoos: Shampoos designed for dogs with skin issues can help soothe irritation, reduce inflammation, and promote healthy skin. These are typically safe for regular use and can be a practical part of your dog’s grooming routine.

Remember, each dog is unique and may respond differently to various treatments. Always consult your vet to identify the best option for your furry friend.

Calmine lotion may or may not be the right choice, but numerous alternatives can be just as, if not more, effective in treating your dog’s skin conditions.


Deciding if you can use calamine lotion on dogs is not a straightforward yes or no answer.

The question calls for a more in-depth consideration of the potential risks and benefits. While calamine lotion may temporarily relieve some skin issues, it poses significant risks, especially if your pet ingests it.

The lotion contains zinc oxide, which can lead to gastrointestinal complications and even anemia in dogs if consumed.

Aside from these health concerns, another factor is whether calamine lotion is the most effective solution.

Numerous other treatment options specifically designed for dogs, including over-the-counter and prescription treatments and natural remedies, might provide a more targeted approach and pose fewer risks.

Ultimately, the decision to use calamine lotion on your dog should be made in consultation with a professional.

Veterinarians are the best source of advice regarding your pet’s health, and they can provide individualized guidance based on your dog’s specific condition and needs.

Before introducing new treatments to your dog’s regimen, always talk with your vet to ensure it’s a safe and effective option for your furry friend.

We’d love to hear from our readers!

Share your experiences or concerns regarding dog skin care in the comments below.

For more dog-related concerns, you can also visit our previous posts on kalms for dogs and using polysporin on dogs or using Optrex on dogs


1. Personal Care Products and Your Pet | VCA Animal Hospitals. (2023, January 1). VCA Hospitals.

2. Is ingesting calamine toxic to dogs? 4-6 ounces, no vomiting yet – JustAnswer. (n.d.). JustAnswer.