Is It Dangerous to Let a Pet Lick Your Skin?

Many dogs and cats are attracted to the smell of lotions, creams, and other skin care products, so you might catch them trying to lick your skin after you finish your skin care routine. My pets chase me around after I apply Zerafite Ultra Rich Body Cream – I do not know if it’s the rich ingredients or the woodsy smell that they like. 

However, this may leave you wondering, “Are skin care products harmful to pets?” While licking a small amount of moisturizer off your skin is unlikely to cause a problem, some types of products can cause an upset stomach, vomiting, and diarrhea, and others can pose a life-threatening risk. 

Skin Care Products That Are Harmful to Pets

In general, it is best to store your beauty products in an area where your pets cannot access them. However, some products are more harmful than others, so use extra caution after you’ve applied them to your skin so that your dog or cat doesn’t ingest any.

Some of the most harmful products to watch out for include:


Most sunscreens contain ingredients that can be toxic to dogs and cats. Zinc oxide, found in many mineral sunscreens (and diaper rash cream), as well as salicylates and active ingredients found in chemical sunscreens like oxybenzone and avobenzone can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and damage to the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. 

If you are using a sunscreen on your pet to protect hairless areas from the sun, be sure to choose a product that is formulated specifically for dogs or cats. Your pet will likely lick the product off of himself, so you want to make sure it does not contain toxic ingredients.


Retinoids are vitamin A compounds that are used to treat a variety of skin concerns, such as wrinkles, uneven skin tone, and acne. Types of retinoids include retinol, retinyl palmitate, Retin-A (tretinoin), Accutane (isotretinoin), and others. If your dog or cat is pregnant and ingests retinoids, birth defects can result. 

Pets who are not pregnant may still experience stomach upset, vomiting, and other GI symptoms. 

Topical Medications

Over-the-counter and prescription medications should always be kept out of reach of pets. Steroid creams, anti-inflammatory creams, antifungal creams, prescription rosacea and psoriasis treatments, and other topical medications can be extremely dangerous if ingested by your pet. Store these products out of reach of animals and children, and do not let your pets lick your skin after you’ve applied them. 

What to Do If Your Pet Ingests Skin Care Products

Seek veterinary care immediately if you think your pet has licked or eaten toxic or poisonous medications or other personal care products. Monitor him or her for symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, dizziness, and seizures, seeking emergency vet care if severe symptoms develop. 

If your pet has gotten ahold of a skin care product, make sure he or she hasn’t eaten any of the plastic packaging. This could cause an intestinal blockage, and you should call your vet if you suspect your pet has ingested plastic. 

If your dog or cat has licked a small amount of moisturizer off your skin, this is most likely safe. However, ingesting large amounts of moisturizers or lotions can cause GI symptoms, so you should not encourage pets to do this.

Bottom Line 

As a general rule, keep all beauty and skin care products away from dogs, cats, and other furry friends. If your pet accidently licks some off your skin or gets into your skin care stash, monitor him or her for symptoms and call your vet if necessary. Use extra caution when dealing with medicated creams and ointments. 

©2020 Metabeauty, Inc.

January 3, 2021 Skincare