1. Flush the skin surface with large volumes of tepid or lukewarm water as soon as possible following exposure. Using cold water can lead to hypothermia, but using warm water can increase toxicity as it causes dilation of blood vessels in the skin and increases absorption.
  2. Substances like coal, tar, road oil, superglue or oil-based paint can be removed by bathing the affected areas with warm water and a mild hand dishwashing liquid.
  4. In some cases like sticky glue traps, clipping or shaving the affected areas/full body may be the best solution for decontamination.
  5. In general, oily or oil soluble agents can be washed out using mild dishwashing liquid. Dry substances like powder, dust or granules can be brushed out prior to bathing.
  6. If you have an Elizabethan collar, place this on your pet to ensure that toxins are not licked off the coat by the animal.
  7. In the case of any substance getting into the eyes, rinse copiously with tap water and seek veterinary attention immediately.
  8. Never leave an animal unattended in water during a decontamination procedure. Toxins may cause them to seizure or lose consciousness and drowning can occur.


Dermal decontamination refers to the removal or washing out of any potentially harmful substances that have come into contact with the skin and/or fur of animals.


Dermal decontamination is warranted in case of dermal (skin) exposure to a potential toxin or sticky substance where it is safe for both the animal and the person treating.

Examples of situations requiring dermal decontamination include exposure to paint, glue traps, tar, superglue, Permethrin spot-on (insecticide), other pesticides, solvents, corrosives or some household cleaning products.

Never use solvents like turps, kerosene, acetone or paint thinner to remove substances from the skin/fur coat as this may cause more discomfort and/or pain.

Keep these animal dry and warm after bathing as they can get hypothermia if they are cold. Remember that cats often resent being washed and can inflict a painful scratch or bite. If your animal is distressed by bathing, seek veterinary attention immediately.


Peterson ME (2013) Toxicologic Decontamination. In: Small Animal Toxicology. 3rd Edn. Peterson ME & Talcott PA (eds.). Missouri, USA: Elsevier Saunders

Bough MG (2003) Dermal Decontamination: Dealing with sticky situations. Veterinary Technician. 24(8):538-540

Muhammad F & Riviere JE (2007) Dermal toxicity. In: Veterinary Toxicology Basic and Clinical Principles. Gupta RC (ed). London. UK: Elsevier Inc. pp. 263-273