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How to Dye a Dog's Hair at Home Using Kool-Aid

Author:

Dr. Mark is a veterinarian. He has been working with dogs for more than 40 years.

Who could resist a colorful pooch like this?

Who could resist a colorful pooch like this?

Normally I let my groomer perform this delicate job in my clinic, but I have been asked several times over the years how it should be done. I used to dye my Maltese's topknot to give him a distinctive air when he strutted around my clinic and am familiar with the process.

To dye your dog's hair, all you have to do is use Kool-Aid that you buy in the store (the small packs without sugar). The dog wearing green and yellow (in the photo) is wearing Brazil's colors, and I have seen Toy Poodles dyed pink or red and blue for the Fourth of July (to get the combo, all the owner has to do is leave the white hair untouched).

The dye lasts for several weeks, and if it is a decent color, it will still look good as it fades. Dark blue comes out well since even when it fades it is still blue. Purple fades okay, but green not as well. And if you go for red, you'd better like pink.

Dog ears look good in any color.

Dog ears look good in any color.

Kool-aid has great colors you can use to dye your dog.

Kool-aid has great colors you can use to dye your dog.

Do It Yourself Kool-Aid Hair Dye for Dogs

1. Wash and dry your dog.

2. Mix up the Kool-Aid. You can use a dog conditioner to make a nice thick solution, or use a small amount of water instead so that the colors will be more vibrant and easier to apply.

3. Apply eye ointment if you are going to dye her eyebrows or topknot. (This is the eye ointment I always use and you should not forget to apply if dyeing your dog's face. Do not worry about using it if only dyeing the tail, but be sure to protect the eyes if dyeing the dog's face.)

4. Use an old toothbrush or a thick paint brush to apply the dye to the hair. This is much easier to do if the dye is thick.

5. Let the hair dry with the dye in it. The dye needs to stay on for at least five minutes.

6. When using Kool-Aid, you do not need to apply a fixative—the citric acid is enough. If using one of the products sold for dogs, please follow the directions.

7. Rinse the dog's hair again to remove any chemicals that might irritate his skin. (This might cause the colors to fade just a little, but that is better than irritating his skin.)

That’s it! There are a lot of people out there who disagree with the ethics of using dye on a dog. I do not think there is anything wrong with it. The product does not hurt her skin, the dog does not care, and who knows, she might even enjoy the extra attention. Talk to your dog about it.

I dyed my Maltese to attract extra attention, as a sort of walking advertisement for my clinic. Now that I am semi-retired, I still dye one of my dog's heads because she is sand-colored and I am worried about her when she is running off-leash on the beach. A fire-engine-red head is pretty hard not to notice.

Do dogs look stupid in shirts? Are Halloween costumes a form of animal cruelty? Should dogs be allowed to walk around with blue ears?

how-to-use-kool-aid-to-dye-a-dogs-hair

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

Questions & Answers

Question: How much water do I put in the Kool-Aid for dying a dog's hair?

Answer: Make the Kool-Aid according to the instructions, or add a little less water than they call for if you want the color a little darker.

© 2013 Dr Mark

Do You Agree With This Custom?

Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on May 18, 2015:

When I lived in Chicago I dyed my Maltese to attract extra attention, as a sort of walking advertisement for my clinic. Now that I am semi-retired, I still dye one of my dog´s heads because she is sand-colored and I am worried about her when she is running off leash on the beach.

A fire-engine red head is pretty hard not to notice.

zigs on May 18, 2015:

Why do you want to dye your dog's hair?

Peyton Parker from San Antonio, TX on December 31, 2014:

The poodles are especially cute! So wonderful that this process is perfectly safe for the pet! And I agree, it is likely to get your dog even more attention - which is always a good thing!

tina on December 11, 2014:

How much koolaid packets would I need to do a full size standard poodle

Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on February 21, 2013:

I think those Chinese dogs (in the top picture) look great, but I do think it is professional. My groomer used to do Café for me but I could have done it myself since I only liked to dye his topknot--just too busy (or lazy).

The only way I know to get this out, if you don't like it, is to wash the dog or give him a haircut. That is why I worry about some of the colors that fade ugly, like pink. Someone, somewhere must like it.

Too bad about those chicks. I think a lot of places still sell easter bunnies like that, and as you point out, most of them die.

Bob Bamberg on February 21, 2013:

When I saw the title I thought you were joking around again. What a great idea!

The dogs in the pictures look good, but I'll bet they were done by someone with more skills than the ordinary pet owner would have. Where the color lasts for several weeks, some folks might regret trying it. Is there a way to undo the do if you screw it up?

I understand the ethics question, but I don't think dying parts of the dog is demeaning. I'm sure it can be done in ways that may be beneath the dignity of dogs, but I have faith that owners wouldn't do that.

When I was a kid, Woolworth's used to sell baby chicks that were dyed in pastel pink and blue. That's illegal now here in Massachusetts (has been for years), but I can understand the reason for the law.

Clearly, chicks were dyed pastels to make them even more irresistible to impulse buyers who had neither the facilities, equipment, supplies or knowledge to properly raise the chicks. They'd die in just a couple of days.

Making one's dog colorful may make some people roll their eyes...but it's eye candy to others.

WillStarr from Phoenix, Arizona on February 20, 2013:

Thank you!

Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on February 20, 2013:

You can order it from Amazon if you want to buy it online (its only 3 bucks but I do not know what they charge for shipping) or I imagine there are plenty of feed stores around you that sell it. If you do not get the one from Amazon, be sure to tell the feed store that you want the regualar lube, not the triple antibiotic ointment usually sold for horses.

WillStarr from Phoenix, Arizona on February 20, 2013:

Where would I go to get that ointment?

Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on February 20, 2013:

Definitely. The groomer always put a dab of the eye ointment in just to keep the shampoo from getting into the dog´s eyes. There is no such thing as a "no tears" shampoo.

WillStarr from Phoenix, Arizona on February 20, 2013:

Would the eye ointment also work for baths?