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What Happens If My Dog Eats Paint?

If you are doing maintenance in your home, you can be sure your doggo will be right there with you, watching you work. Dogs are naturally very curious and like to be where you are. Perhaps you are painting a wall or a piece of furniture, and you’ve walked away while the paint is drying.

Without you noticing, your dog has accidentally rubbed against the wet paint, and now it’s stuck to their fur. To remove the paint, your dog will groom themselves or try to pull the paint off using their teeth (especially if the paint has dried and caked against their fur). Ingesting paint can be toxic for your dog, depending on the type of paint they have eaten.

Let’s take a closer look at what happens when your dog eats paint and what you should do next. 

What Happens If My Dog Eats Paint?

When dogs eat paint, it can cause various distressing symptoms such as vomiting, ataxia (lack of coordination), lethargy, diarrhea, and shallow or difficulty breathing. If your dog has ingested lead-based paint, this can lead to more severe symptoms such as gastrointestinal irritation, an increased heart rate, blindness, tremors, seizures, and pale or discolored gums.

Depending on what type of paint your dog has ingested, they will display different symptoms. 

Let’s take a closer look at some of these types of paint and the various symptoms they cause:

Paint That Contains Ethylene-Glycol

Ethylene-glycol is an ingredient found in antifreeze (a liquid mixed with water to regulate your car’s engine during extremely cold temperatures). It’s hazardous for dogs if ingested. 

Most lead-free paints contain a low concentration of ethylene-glycol. When ingested in small amounts, it isn’t cause for concern, and your dog will experience mild gastrointestinal irritation. If your dog ingests a large amount of the paint, the symptoms will be worse:

  • Continuous vomiting
  • Refusing to eat
  • Drinking large amounts of water, or nothing at all
  • Urinating excessively
  • Struggling to urinate
  • Suffering from tremors

Water-Based Paint

If your dog has licked or eaten water-based paint, the symptoms will be minimal (if there are any). Water-based paints aren’t known for causing an upset stomach or skin irritation. However, if your dog overeats this type of paint, they may suffer from:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Oil-Based Paints

Oil-based paints are toxic for your dog if ingested. This type of paint is also harmful if inhaled, as it contains solvents that pass into your dogs lungs. Your dog can accidentally inhale these solvents while drinking water or being in the vicinity of the paint.

The oil in the paint also lines your dog’s intestines, causing diarrhea. There are some nasty side effects involved if your dog ingests, licks, or inhales this type of paint, such as:

Latex Paint

Latex paint contains a plastic resin made of polyvinyl, which helps it stick to surfaces better. This paint also has a low contraction of ethylene-glycol, which can be troublesome if ingested in large quantities. 

Although most latex paints are relatively non-toxic, they can still cause some horrible symptoms such as: 

  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Confusion
  • Lethargy
  • Difficulty breathing

Metabolic acidosis (high levels of acid in the body)In severe cases where a dog has ingested a large amount of paint, it can develop into kidney failure due to crystals that form in the bladder.

Lead-Based Paint

Lead-based paint is by far the worst paint your dog can ingest. This paint is not common anymore due to the health concerns surrounding lead poisoning. But there are still some paints that contain lead, such as oil-based artists’ paints. 

Dogs usually experience lead poisoning from chewing on wood or surfaces that have been painted, or from eating chips of peeling lead-based paint. 

Ingesting this paint can lead to symptoms such as:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Lack of coordination
  • Diarrhea
  • Pale gums
  • Shallow or difficulty breathing
  • Lack of appetite

What to Do If My Dog Eats or Licks Paint?

When your dog eats or licks paint, it’s vital that you check what type of paint they have ingested. Some paints are more toxic than others, and you must pay attention to the symptoms. Rinse your dog’s mouth with warm water, and encourage them to have small sips of water. Seek veterinary advice if the symptoms don’t ease up or if they get worse. 

Follow these steps if your doggo has ingested paint:

1. Try to distinguish what type of paint your dog has eaten.

2. It’s always best to contact your vet immediately when symptoms occur. If your dog has ingested lead paint or ethylene-glycol paint, they need to receive an antidote, and treatment must be administered immediately.

3. Never try to induce vomiting unless your vet has instructed you to. This can cause more harm than good.

3. Wrap a wet cloth around your finger and gently wipe your dog’s mouth out to remove any paint residue. Alternatively, rinse your dog’s mouth out with lukewarm water.

4. Encourage your dog to drink small sips of water.

5. See if they will eat a little snack. This helps absorb the paint and settle the stomach.

How to Stop My Dog From Eating and Licking Paint?

Prevent your dog from eating or licking paint by storing your paint in a place where your dog can’t reach it. It’s vital to keep your dog away from the freshly painted surface or any open cans of paint. Remove any painted objects that your dog may be tempted to chew. 

Let’s take a look at some tips on how to stop your dog from eating and licking paint:

  • Put all the painting materials, such as paintbrushes and rags, away.
  • Wipe up any paint spills.
  • Keep your dog away from the area you’re painting until the paint is dry.
  • Keep the place where you are painting well-ventilated (this will also help the paint dry faster).
  • Remove any peeling paint chips from walls and furniture.
  • Take your dog for walks and provide them with good exercise. Dogs tend to chew on things when they are bored or frustrated.

What Happens If My Dog Eats Acrylic Paint?

Acrylic paints are usually non-toxic for dogs, and they typically display mild symptoms (if any) such as vomiting and diarrhea. However, some colors in acrylic paint contain pigments such as cadmium, cobalt blue, chromium, and lead that can cause troublesome symptoms for your dog such as cramping, unstable walking, reflux, and in severe cases, kidney failure.

Here’s a closer look at some symptoms you can expect if your dog eats acrylic paint: 

  • Bloating
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Hunched over due to cramping
  • Reflux
  • Constipation
  • Dog walks as if they are intoxicated (drunken gait)
  • Kidney failure