Topical Minoxidil Exposures and Toxicoses in Dogs and Cats: 211 Cases (2001-2019)

J Am Anim Hosp Assoc. 2021 Sep 1;57(5):225-231. doi: 10.5326/JAAHA-MS-7154.


Topical minoxidil is a medication for hair loss, initially available in the United States by prescription only and available since 1996 as an over-the-counter product. To determine the epidemiology of minoxidil exposures and toxicoses in dogs and cats, 211 dog and cat cases with topical minoxidil exposure were identified from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Animal Poison Control Center database. In 87 cases with clinical signs of toxicosis (62 cats, 25 dogs), case narratives were reviewed and coded for exposure-related circumstances. Unintentional delivery, especially while pet owners applied minoxidil for his/her own hair loss (e.g., pet licked owner's skin or pillowcase, pet was splashed during a medication spill), was the most common cat exposure circumstance. Exploratory behavior (e.g., searching through trash) was the most common dog exposure circumstance. Clinical signs occurred in dogs and cats even with low exposure amounts, such as drops or licks. In patients that developed clinical signs, most developed moderate or major illness (56.0% dogs, 59.7% cats). Death occurred in 8/62 (12.9%) cats that developed clinical signs after the pet owner's minoxidil use. Pet owners should be educated on the risk of dog and cat toxicosis from accidental minoxidil exposure.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cat Diseases* / chemically induced
  • Cat Diseases* / drug therapy
  • Cat Diseases* / epidemiology
  • Cats
  • Dog Diseases* / chemically induced
  • Dog Diseases* / drug therapy
  • Dog Diseases* / epidemiology
  • Dogs
  • Female
  • Male
  • Minoxidil
  • United States


  • Minoxidil