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Creolin for Dogs - Uses and Safety

María Besteiros
By María Besteiros, Expert veterinary assistant and canine/feline hairdresser.. Updated: January 30, 2024
Creolin for Dogs - Uses and Safety

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Creolin is a powerful disinfectant with a long history of industrial and medical use. It was first used in the 19th century, but its formulation has evolved over time. This is important to remember as not all products labeled as creolin will be the same. As a disinfectant, the action of creolin is to destroy various microorganisms. With such a great ability to kill bacteria and other harmful agents, some dog guardians have thought to use it on their animals. For this reason, it is important to know is creolin for dogs safe?

AnimalWised can reveal that creolin is not safe for use on dogs. Although it will be effective in destroying various potential pathogens, its high level of toxicity will most likely cause very serious harm to your dog.

  1. What is creolin for dogs?
  2. Uses of creolin for dogs
  3. Is creolin toxic to dogs?
  4. Can you bathe a dog with creolin?
  5. Using creolin to repel dogs

What is creolin for dogs?

Creolin is the generic name used to market disinfectants whose composition will vary. Such variation depends largely on the manufacturer. Despite certain differences, all Creolin products are based on phenols. These phenols are obtained from a substance known as creosote, a residue which results from the distillation of wood. It is composed of phenol and cresol.

Originally, creolin was sold as a commercial brand. It is a natural, liquid disinfectant which is dark amber in color. Its disinfectant power is greater than bleach or many other household disinfectants. For this reason, it needs to be diluted before use, otherwise it can be corrosive. When it is used, creolin must be handled carefully. This requires safety apparatus such as gloves, but ideally also a mask and protective glasses. If any of the product touches bare skin, eyes or other sensitive areas, it can cause a lot of damage.

Learn about other disinfectants for veterinary use with our article on whether chlorhexidine is safe for dogs.

Uses of creolin for dogs

As a disinfectant, creolin has been useful for various purposes. At one point it was very common in hospitals as an agent used to sterilize medical instruments, but it has also been used in homes to clean bathrooms and other areas with a high potential for the proliferation of microorganisms. It is also a powerful deodorant, so its use has been popular in cleaning odorous spills. For household uses, creolin is prepared in the following way:

  1. Dissolve the creolin in water.
  2. Spray the mixture on the surface to be cleaned.
  3. Wipe with a mop to remove the excess or rinse with plenty of water after leaving it to act for about 15 minutes.

Since creolin can be purchased in various preparations, it is essential we read the label to know how an individual product is used.

Although these uses are generally applied to household hygiene, it is common for some families to use this particularly with their dogs. As it also has a strong deodorant effect, creolin is often used to clean kennels, accessories and other objects we associate with our dog. It can also be used to treat wood for its protection, something which can be used for various canine structures.

Since it is such a strong disinfectant, some people have wondered whether creolin is safe for dogs. While its uses as a household cleaner or as a way to get rid of dog smell shouldn't cause problems if it is cleaned up appropriately, this doesn't mean it can be used on the dog's body.

Creolin for Dogs - Uses and Safety - Uses of creolin for dogs

Is creolin toxic to dogs?

The answer is yes. Creolin is a substance that presents a high risk of toxicity both for dogs and for people and other animals. Not only can its strong odor be irritating to the sensitive respiratory tract of dogs, but simple contact with the skin can trigger serious adverse effects. Symptoms of creolin toxicity include:

  • Digestive problems
  • Liver damage
  • Kidney abnormalities
  • Failures in the nervous system
  • Hemolytic anemia

For all these reasons, you should never apply creolin to a dog. Creolin is a disinfectant for exclusive use on surfaces and always following the manufacturer's recommendations to maintain the safety of all household components.

Can you bathe a dog with creolin?

As a disinfectant, creolin is effective in killing harmful bacteria. It is also useful as an insecticide since it is powerful enough to kill various insects, including fleas and ticks. Since these are common external parasites on dogs, it is understandable some guardian wonder whether they can bathe their dog with creolin.

The answer is no. Although suitable for killing various organisms in the home, the strength of creolin's toxicity in dogs is much too high. Even diluted creolin can be strong enough to cause serious poisoning in dogs. By bathing a dog with creolin, we run the risk of getting it into their mouth, eyes and other sensitive areas. This can cause serious internal problems, but the samage it can cause to their skin is also considerable.

It is understandable that some caregivers consider using creolin for their dog. It was previously a recommended treatment for canine deworming[1]. Unfortunately, many of these sources date back to the early 20th and even the late 19th century. Since this time, research has shown it to be too dangerous and not as effective as other types of deworming dogs.

Learn more about healthy ways to stop parasites with our article on whether it is necessary to deworm a dog.

Creolin for Dogs - Uses and Safety - Can you bathe a dog with creolin?

Using creolin to repel dogs

Some caregivers may be aware that creolin is not safe for use on dogs, but think it is OK for other canine-related issues. If we live somewhere with a lot of stray or feral dogs, we might have a problem with them entering our property. The same can apply with neighbors who let their dogs roam free. For this reason, many of us try to find ways to stop dogs entering our home. Some use products like creolin as a way to repel dogs.

Although creolin's strong odor is a smell dogs hate, it should not be used as a repellent. Some people use it to prevent dogs urinating or defecating on their home, so they splash generous amounts of the disinfectant over the ground. If a dog was to lick the ground where the creolin is placed, it can result in a fatal poisoning.

For creolin to work as a repellent, it would need to be in a high concentration. When used in a poorly ventilated area, it can be toxic to more than just a dog. When we have problems with dogs coming onto our property, there are safer and more effective ways to prevent it. Learn more about what this entails with our article on how to keep a dog from pooping in your yard.

This article is purely informative. AnimalWised does not have the authority to prescribe any veterinary treatment or create a diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the veterinarian if they are suffering from any condition or pain.

If you want to read similar articles to Creolin for Dogs - Uses and Safety, we recommend you visit our Other health problems category.


1. Walden, B. H. (1934). Fleas and their control. Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station (Circular), 97, 37-42.

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Creolin for Dogs - Uses and Safety