Many dog owners are aware that their dogs love putting their noses into things and places that they shouldn’t. They say that curiosity killed the cat but it can also cause a multitude of issues for your dogs.
A couple of months ago, I was doing some DIY painting in one of my rooms. I had my earphones on to take away the monotony of painting my room. When I turned around to redcoat my brush, I found both my cat and dog sitting by the big can of paint.
My cat was just an observer but my dog’s nose was the same color as my room. He probably took a lick or two as well but thankfully he turned out fine.
That got me thinking, is it dangerous if your dog licks paint?
If your dog has licked or ingested paint, a small amount wouldn’t do much harm to it. But there are some types of paint like oil based paints and varnishes that can be toxic or cause poisoning in a dog. It would be best to bring your dog to the vet if it has ingested any type of paint in quantity.
Let us take a closer look at the different types of paint and the dangers that can arise when dogs lick paint.
What Are The Different Types Of Paint?
When we think of paint, most of us tend to associate it with the kind that we used to paint our homes with.
The toxicity of paint to your dog depends largely on the type of paint that your dog has licked.
Here are the most common types of paint.
Oil Based Paints
Oil based paints are what you would use to paint wooden and metal surfaces. This type of paint is very water-resistant and good at stain blocking.
This makes oil based paints ideal for outdoor use as well as they can withstand all weather conditions
One problem when it comes to using oil based paints is that they release volatile organic compounds which explains the strong paint fumes.
This is caused by the mineral turpentine that is used when making oil paints.
What Are The Dangers Of Oil Based Paint?
Your dog can suffer from oil based paint poisoning if it has ingested a large amount into its stomach or lungs.
The dangerous chemicals can also enter your dog’s body if there’s oil paint on his skin or if it got some on the eyes.
The most toxic component of oil paints is hydrocarbon solvent which can be benzene, toluene, mixed xylenes, etc.
When ingested, your dog can suffer from side effects such as:
- Increase heart rate
- Difficulty breathing
- Skin irritation
Water Based Paints
Water based paints are considered safer than oil based paints are they are mostly made from water and do not release toxic fumes into the environment.
They are quick to dry and are good to use for painting the interior walls and windows of the house.
Examples of water based paints would be:
- Latex paints
- Acrylic paint
- Poster paints
What Are The Dangers Of Water Based Paint?
The good thing about water based paints is that they are not toxic as oil paints. But if your dog has ingested such paints in large amounts, it can definitely lead to gastrointestinal issues or skin irritation.
You might find your dog having diarrhea and some abdominal pain for a few days but it should clear up after that. Water based paints shouldn’t cause any vomiting as well.
There are some manufactures that add anti-freeze to their latex paints. This is because latex paint is made primarily of water which tends to freeze when it gets cold.
Accidentally anti-freeze can be very toxic to dogs which can lead to kidney failure and damage to the central nervous system.
I wouldn’t exactly label varnishes as paint, they are used more for providing a hard protective coating or film on wood.
Varnishes contain dry oil, resin and a thinner which makes them give off volatile organic compounds similar to oil based paints.
What Are The Dangers Of Varnish?
The dangers of varnish to your dog are very similar to that of oil based paints as varnish contains hydrocarbons as well.
Varnish also has resins such as amber, rosin and balsam which are all toxic to dogs.
Ingestion of varnish can lead to varnish poisoning with symptoms such as:
- Blood in stool
- Stomach pain
- Breathing difficulty
- Low blood pressure
Lead Based Paints
Lead based paints are the most toxic and poisonous of paints for both dogs and humans. This paint has been banned in the United States since 1978 but they are still being used in other countries.
Any type of paint can be considered lead based paint once the lead has been added to the mix to quicken the drying process and provide texture to objects.
What Are The Dangers Of Lead Based Paint?
The biggest problem with lead based paint is that it can cause lead poisoning when ingested. This can lead to serious long term side effects due to repeated and prolonged exposure.
A small amount of lead can be enough to cause lead poisoning in a small dog. Lead can cause a lot of disruption to your dog’s bodily functions and also prevent other metals in your dog’s body from doing their jobs.
Common symptoms of lead poisoning in dogs include:
- Red blood cells disorder
- Digestive disorders
Be Careful Of Paint Fumes As Well
Ingestion of paint isn’t the only way that your dog can suffer from paint poisoning. Inhaling paint fumes can lead to many short them and long term health problems as well.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the volatile organic compounds that are released can cause cancer in animals and humans.
Exposure to paint fumes can cause irritation and damage to your dog’s nose, mouth, eyes and respiratory system.
It can also make your dog feel high or dizzy due to the volatile organic compounds. Interestingly enough, there have been crazy rumors about people smelling cat urine to get high.
What To Do If My Dog Licked Paint?
If your dog has licked or ingested paint, the first thing that your should do is to clean off as much paint as possible from your dog’s face with warm water.
Some paints have a strong smell or sticky texture or you might have to use some mild liquid dish soap or your dog’s shampoo to get it off.
Do the same to your dog’s fur or skin if it has gotten paint on its body or paws as well. If possible try to rinse or brush the inside of your dog’s mouth as well as there might be residual paint stuck on its teeth or tongue.
Get your dog to eat some food and drink some water which can help to reduce the risk of a tummy upset too.
I wouldn’t be too concerned if your dog took a couple of licks of water based paint. Just monitor your dog for the next few days for any adverse reactions.
But if it’s oil paint, lead based paint or varnish that your dog has ingested, please take your dog to the vet immediately for treatment.
Why Happens If My Dog Eats Dried Paint?
Eating paint that has dried doesn’t really make it less toxic especially if its oil based or lead based paint.
The paint might not seem as toxic due to the lack of smell when it was still in the can but it still contains chemical compounds that can be poisonous to your dog.
Your dog can still suffer from all the health issues even from eating dried paint.
Why Does My Dog Keep Licking Paint?
Most dogs will stay away from fresh paint due to the smell of the chemicals used. The odors will be too strong for the dog and drive them away.
However, there will be times when your dog can ingest pain due to medical or behavioral reasons.
A puppy that is teething will be very mouthy and tend to chew on things. Once a puppy reaches 3 weeks old, it will start to grow its first set of baby teeth.
The teething process can be itchy and painful for young dogs which is why they feel the desire to bite things to try and relieve the discomfort. Some puppies might even vomit while they are teething due to digestive issues.
It could be that your puppy finds biting the paint off your wall to help with its teething issues.
Once your puppy starts chewing on the wall, immediately give it something that you want it to chew on like a toy. Praise and reward your puppy for doing so to make it dissociate biting with the wall.
Pica is a medical condition in dogs that causes them to chew and ingest inedible objects like rocks, plastic, fabric, wires, glass, metal, etc.
It can be life-threatening if your dog eats something dangerous like glass or toxic like oil based paint.
Scientists have yet to determine the actual cause of Pica in dogs but they contribute it to malnourishment or a genetic disorder.
Pica cannot be cured but only managed.
You need to take your dog to the vet for a physical examination and seek the vet’s advice on managing the problem.
They say that a bored mind is a devil’s workshop and the same applies to our dogs. Dogs that do not have sufficient mental and physical stimulation will start to engage in bad and destructive behaviors.
Your dog could be licking paint just because it has nothing else better to do.
Get your dog out of the house for a walk or run daily and also engage in mental games to really tire it out.
How To Prevent Paint Poisoning In A Dog?
The best way to prevent your dog from getting paint poisoning is to prevent it from pain exposure in the first place.
Do not leave any paint cans or painting supplies out in the open where your dog can have access to them.
Always keep them in a cupboard or box that is secure.
If possible, try to use paint is is non-toxic to humans and animals just to be safe.
After painting a room or a surface, keep the area well ventilated and do not allow your dog in the vicinity until the pain is completely dry.