Readily available over-the-counter and licensed as a treatment for male pattern baldness, Minoxidil is one of the world’s most popular hair loss treatments. But while it is safe and effective for humans, Minoxidil has been shown to be dangerous for cats and dogs.
Keep your pets safe with this guide to using Minoxidil safely as a pet owner.
Yes, Minoxidil is dangerous for cats if they’re exposed to even small amounts of the substance .
One study found that in pets with clinical signs of Minoxidil exposure, 56% of dogs and 59.7% of cats developed moderate or major illness. Sadly, 12.9% of pets died following exposure to Minoxidil.
Minoxidil exposure doesn’t necessarily mean directly or purposely applying the solution to your pet’s coat. Pets can also be exposed to Minoxidil if:
Minoxidil is toxic for both cats and dogs, so it’s important to avoid exposing them to this treatment in any way.
Known symptoms of Minoxidil exposure in cats and dogs include [2-3]:
This list isn’t exhaustive, so if your cat or dog displays any unusual or worrying behaviour after potential Minoxidil exposure, it’s important to see a vet as soon as possible.
The above symptoms can appear within a few hours of exposure. If left untreated, your cat can become ill quickly. So if you suspect they may have ingested or been exposed to Minoxidil, it’s important to seek veterinary treatment immediately.
Yes, many cats recover from Minoxidil poisoning. One study found that more than 87% of pets recovered.
However, this often depends on speedy medical treatment and ongoing monitoring. So you should take your pet to the vet as soon as you suspect Minoxidil poisoning.
This may sound worrying, but it’s still possible to use Minoxidil if you have a cat or dog — you just need to take the right precautions, and be vigilant about protecting your pets from exposure.
Minimise the risk of exposing your pet to Minoxidil by taking the following precautions.
Cats in particular are notorious climbers and jumpers, so you need to store your Minoxidil securely. Keep it in a cupboard in an area your cat can’t access, such as your bathroom cabinet. Remember to keep the bathroom door shut.
When you dispose of your Minoxidil packaging, take it to your outside bin as soon as possible to make sure pets can’t accidentally find it in the house.
It’s good practice to wash your hands after applying Minoxidil regardless of whether you have a pet. Otherwise the solution can easily spread to other areas of your body.
However, if you have a cat or dog, washing your hands is essential to avoid transferring any of the solution to your pet’s coat.
If your pet has a habit of licking you, it’s important to stop or limit this behaviour. Licking areas of your face or body where Minoxidil has been applied is one of the most common ways pets become exposed to Minoxidil .
Apply Minoxidil at least an hour before you go to bed to give the solution time to absorb into your scalp before you sleep. This can stop Minoxidil getting on your pillowcase and being transferred to your pets via your bed.
Some people only apply Minoxidil when they’re at work or otherwise out of the house for the day. On your return, wash your face thoroughly so your pet is less likely to be exposed to the substance.
Minoxidil alternatives like Finasteride may pose less of a risk to your pets. So consider exploring other hair loss treatments that are suitable for your hair loss condition.
The Wimpole Clinic specialises in providing hair loss treatments for women and male hair loss treatments. So if you’re thinking of switching from Minoxidil, book a consultation with one of our trichologists for more information.
Minoxidil can be a safe and effective hair loss treatment for many different types of hair loss, even if you have a pet. You just need to take the right precautions.
Learn more about Minoxidil in the resources below.
Simply fill in your details in the form below and we'll get in touch with you shortly.