Simple hacks using cornstarch on dogs

The humble inexpensive package of cornstarch has many more uses than just for cooking. Here are some clever hacks and tips that you can use to aid in your dogs’ grooming and health applications.

using cornstarch on dogs


Dematting a dog with cornstarch

There is a wide range of products available for dematting and detangling dog fur. However, one of the most simple and inexpensive products for removing matts is the humble cornstarch which many of us will have in our pantry at home. I am not entirely sure why this works so well, I assume it helps remove moisture in the knot and allows the brush or comb better grip on the individual fibers.

To do this simply part the fur around the matted area. Hold the entire mat in your hand at the base of the mat close to your dog’s skin. This is to prevent any risk off brush burn by applying too much pressure on the brush. Sprinkle a little cornstarch powder on the affected area and gently work in with your fingers.

Using your slicker brush gently brush the coat to remove any tangles. Then use a steel comb to run through the coat to ensure all tangles are gone. If it is a stubborn matt you are working on, use a dematting tool. I personally use a 9 tooth dematting comb as I have found it to be the most effective dematting tool and doesn’t damage the surrounding coat.

To use a 9 tooth dematting comb, comb through the coat until you feel resistance. Don’t pull hard or try to rip the knot out. Just roll your wrist and gently splice through the matt.

For more on how to brush and dematt a dog see here.

If your dog is matted over a large area, just work on each patch at a time using your fingers to part the fur to expose the matt as best as possible. This video shows using cornstarch to dematt and detangle a dog’s coat in action.

Cornstarch as a dry dog shampoo

We probably on average bath our dogs once a month or even every two months. The main reason for bathing your dog is generally to stop them smelling and also to remove dirt in their coats. For tips on bathing your dog see here.

An easy alternative to giving your dog a full bath is to do a dry bath in between their normal wash. There are many dry bath products available but they can often be expensive. Cornstarch makes the best dry shampoo for dogs at a fraction of the cost.

dry shampoo cornstarchThere are a couple of ways you can do this. Firstly you can use cornstarch by itself or you can use an equal part mix of cornstarch and baking soda. The cornstarch helps absorb oil and dirt in the coat while the baking soda is great to deodorize your dog. As an optional extra, you can mix in a few drops of a selected essential oil to add a fragrance to your homemade dry shampoo. Eucalyptus essential oil can also be used as a flea deterrent.

Mix the powders in a container or bottle with a reasonably large hole at the top. You may need to use a funnel if using a bottle. Add 1 cup of cornstarch and 1 cup of baking soda. Mix in a few drops of essential oil if you wish also. Give the powder a good mix up.

Sprinkle a liberal amount of the dry powder on your dog’s coat. Cover the face, to avoid getting any in their nose and eyes. Rub the dry shampoo into the coat until it reaches the skin.

Your dog may want to have a shake at this stage. This is fine as it will help remove any of the excess powder. Wait five minutes and brush your dog to remove the remaining powder. You will find that the powder also makes it easier to brush and remove any tangles from your dog’s coat. Give your dog a good rub down with a clean towel to ensure there is no more powder remaining in the coat. That’s it. Quick and simple.

Cornstarch for dog tear stains

Tear staining affects many dogs but is most common in white colored breeds or breeds that have large eyes and small tear ducts. Tear staining can be caused by a number of different things such as

  • allergies, often food-related allergies. This is why changing your dog’s diet particularly to a food created for allergy suffers can solve the problem of tear stains altogether.
  • your dog’s drinking water. This is due to the high mineral content in some water sources. Using filtered water may help here.
  • by blocked or small tear ducts. If this is the case it is best to consult your vet as a surgical solution may be needed.
  • the environment such as a lot of dust or smoke getting into your dog’s eyes making them tear.

There are many tear stain products available but it is important not to expect instant results. It will take a repeated daily application over a period of time to slowly fade and remove the tear stains. If you are able to find the cause of the staining such as one of the reasons mentioned above it will stop new staining beginning. Consult your vet on what the cause of your dog’s tear staining may be.

Cornstarch paste mixed with water can be used as an inexpensive and natural tear stain remover.

Mix a tablespoon of water with the cornstarch until it the consistency similar to toothpaste. Some people recommend using a tablespoon of hydrogen peroxide mixed in also. Personally, I don’t do this as it can be irritating to your dog’s eye and cornstarch alone seems to work well. Apply the cornstarch just under your dog´s eyes. Allow it to dry before wiping it away using a cotton ball or makeup removal pad. It is very important to carefully apply the mixture just under the eyes on the stained area. Avoid contact to the sensitive skin inside the eye.

How to stop dog nail bleeding at home

You may have had the experience of clipping your dog’s nails at home and have hit the quick. The quick is the blood vessels inside the dog’s claw. When you cut too short and close to the quick you will often cause the nail to bleed. Even the most experienced dog groomers will hit the quick on occasion particularly with black nails where it is hard to see the quick. Dogs with white or light nails often have a visible quick, making it quite obvious where to avoid clipping. However, if the dog is not holding still you may still get it wrong. Learn more about clipping a dog’s nails here.

The simple solution to stop the bleeding is to use cornstarch to clot the blood vessel. It is best to be prepared in advance and how some cornstarch on hand just in case. Hold the paw in one hand and pack a small amount of the cornstarch powder on the end of the nail. Depending on how deep into the quick you have cut will affect how well this works. You may need to reapply and use a cotton bud to apply pressure to the end of the nail. The best thing to use and what is used by professional groomers is Styptic powder. No home remedy will be as effective as a styptic powder. However, if you don’t have styptic powder on hand, cornstarch is the next best thing.

Sometimes a nail can bleed if your dog breaks or cracks their nail. This same method will also work in these situations. If you are unable to stop the bleeding at home you should consult your vet

Cornstarch for hotspots or wounds

A hot spot, or moist dermatitis, is a condition in dogs that involves an area of skin that has become inflamed or infected. The beginning stage is the area becoming moist, itchy and red. Then your dog may begin to lick and scratch the area causing it to become a full blown infection with pus oozing out.

If you see on your dog a potential hot spot, apply cornstarch to the area 3 or 4 times a day or every time it looks moist. This will help to dry the affected area and relieve the itching. Within a couple of days, it will dry out and start to scab and heal. Obviously, if the hotspot becomes badly infected you should consult your vet.

If your dog has a minor wound you can also use cornstarch to stop any bleeding and to help dry and heal the area. If you feel the wound may be a bit more serious or has become badly infected you should consult your vet


I hope you have found these handy tips using cornstarch on dogs helpful. Give them a try and feel free to comment to let us know how they worked for you.

4 Replies to “Simple hacks using cornstarch on dogs”

  1. Cindy Montgomery says:

    My Border Collie terrier had severe skin rash with bleeding. I put Revolution on her but she was still itching and crying in pain. I applied cornstarch to all affected areas. She is asleep on the floor and finally resting from all the itching. Thank goodness!

    1. David Barker says:

      That’s good news. Sometimes the simplest solution is the best.

  2. Diana Norton says:

    Thank yo for the cornstarch remedy for tear stains. I haven’t picked up my adopted Bishon Frise mix yet but I will use the handy helpful sensible use of cornstarch paste. Thank you

  3. Kim Shifflett says:

    Do not leave the box of cornstarch out where your dog can get to it. My dachshund ate half a box when I was out of the room. He eats everything, but I never thought he would eat cornstarch. Then he drank a lot of water. Within 10 minutes he was shuddering and panting . Raced him over to vet, X-rays showed a very big gummy ball. Fortunately the vet was able to get it out without surgery, but if I had waited it would have killed him.

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