Many people enjoy wearing nail polish and there are so many vibrant, beautiful colors to choose from! Some pet parents even like to paint their dog’s toenails, with some even opting to use human nail polish on their fur babies. And who doesn’t remember back to the good old days when a poodle clip also included painted nails?
Painting dogs’ toenails has been popular for decades; however, what happens if a dog eats or licks wet polish? Or what if they get a hold of nail polish remover or an entire bottle of nail polish?
Nail Products & Nail Polish Remover Can be Poisonous to Dogs
Human nail polish and nail polish remover can be toxic to dogs. Nail polish, including those that are labeled “toxin-free” may contain substances such as:
- Toluene: this chemical is used to keep nail polish smooth and even. It has been tied to nervous system issues such as headaches, nausea, dizziness and eye irritation. The substance has also been linked to birth defects and developmental issues in children who used the chemical during their pregnancies. This chemical is also banned in Europe.
- Formaldehyde: used in plywood and particle board, sometimes used as an embalmer, preservative and a sterilizer. In nail polishes, this substance is often included to help harden the polish on the nails. This chemical is recognized as a carcinogen and has been linked to cancers of the lungs and the nose.
- Dibutyl phthalate: also called DBP, this substance is used in nail polish to keep it more flexible and keep the polish from cracking and chipping. However, the chemical has been tired to reproductive problems and is banned in Europe.
These are known as the “toxic three,” and do have potential risks to the health of both humans and dogs. This is why manicurists wear protective masks—due to the fumes from the nail care products they use on customers.
Acetone is another chemical that’s toxic for dogs. While this is a natural chemical (it’s a ketone), it can still be poisonous is a dog eats or drinks too much of this product.
What to Do if Your Dog Has Eaten Nail Polish or Nail Polish Remover
First, don’t panic! You’ll need to check the nail polish to see how much your fur baby may have ingested.
If it looks like not much is missing, then your canine companion should be OK. However, watch for these signs that the polish is making him sick:
- Loss of appetite
On the other hand, if he’s ingested a lot of the nail polish, then you’ll need to call the vet. Do not induce vomiting, unless directed to do so by your vet.
The same applies to the nail polish remover. If your dog has only licked a little from the lid or the top of the bottle, he will probably be OK. Or if he’s eaten a cotton ball that contained nail polish remover, he may be OK. The acetone evaporates quickly, so if the cotton ball was dry, then your fur baby should be OK.
If the cotton ball or pad was completely soaked, this is a different matter. Then you’ll need to watch for the signs that your fur baby is sick (see symptoms listed above). If he shows these symptoms, then call the vet. Again, do not induce vomiting, unless your vet advices this action.
What Not to Do If Your Dog’s Eaten Nail Polish or Nail Polish Remover
Do Not Induce Vomiting
Many people have been taught that inducing vomiting can help their dogs. However, that’s not always the case. Inducing vomiting can be very dangerous in some cases. For instance, the chemicals in nail polish are caustic and can injure your dog’s digestive tract and esophagus. So, only induce vomiting if your vet tells you to do so.
If your fur baby is already showing symptoms, then it’s too late to induce vomiting at this point.
Don’t Use Home Remedies
It’s sometimes tempting to use home remedies to help your fur baby when he’s sick. However, giving your dog milk or peanut butter can make his condition even worse.
Avoid searching the Internet for home remedies that can “help” your fur baby. Instead, call the vet immediately. This is the best course of action for your dog.
Use Non-Toxic Nail Polish
If you’d really like to have your fur baby’s nails painted, then avoid using polish for humans. Instead, look for dog-safe nail polish. There are a wide variety of colors available, so you and your canine companion can have a lot of fun using nail polish together!
You can do an online search to find non-toxic pet nail polish for your fur baby. Some of these products are specially formulated for dogs. There are products such as brush polishes and polish pens you can use to beautify your pup’s toenails.
If you can’t find those products, you may want to consider using nail polish for kids. These products are safe and easy to find. They’re also available in a broad variety of colors. While these are not specifically formulated for dogs, they are safe if your dog (or child) happens to lick the nail polish!
You’ll also want to invest in a polish remover that’s safe for dogs. If you can’t find these products, you can also use natural polish removers for humans. These products are safe for your fur baby!