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Is Acrylic Paint Toxic to Dogs, Cats & Other Pets?

Acrylic paints are fast-drying paints that consist of pigments suspended in acrylic polymer emulsion. Although most acrylic paints are water-based, they become water-resistant as they dry. These are used on wooden surfaces, metals, fabrics, ceramics, canvases, for decorative art.

Is acrylic paint toxic to dogs, cats & other pets?

Most acrylic paints are non-toxic to pets but, some contain unique pigments which make them toxic. Check the labels to know which are non-toxic. However, if ingested by a pet, immediately contact a local veterinarian. Ingesting turpentine can lead to vomiting and aspiration.


For dogs, water-based acrylic paints are not considered toxic but may become so if a large amount is ingested. If ingested, dogs may experience vomiting, diarrhea, depression, tremors, and difficulty in breathing.

If any one of the symptoms is observed, immediately contact a local veterinarian.

Acrylic paints are safe for dog paws. Before applying the paint on the paw, check for any scratches or cuts. Water-based acrylic paints are suggested for dog paws since these are non-toxic and can easily be washed with water.

Additionally, Apple Barrel paints are not toxic for dogs but if the dog likes to chew on things, it is better not to use that. These paints become hard when dry and may become a choking hazard.


As for cats too, acrylic paints are not toxic. Again, if a lot of paint is ingested or paint water is consumed and is vomiting continuously, then a trip to the vet is mandatory. If a small amount is ingested, feed the cat liquids to dilute the product and prevent an upset stomach.

Most latex paints are non-toxic but if a cat ingests a large amount, nausea and vomiting are expected and should be treated right away. In small amounts, it may irritate the skin and mucus membranes of the cat.

As for paint water, in small amounts, it is not toxic but may be irritating. Before applying some paint on cat paws, look for any scratches or cuts. It should be noted that the paint, although not toxic, may be irritating on the skin of a cat.


Acrylic paints are also used for painting birdhouses. Water-based paint should be used as they are not toxic for birds and lead-based paint should be avoided. Lead-based acrylic paints are poisonous for birds.

Although acrylic paints are not toxic to birds, birdhouses should not be painted. Birds tend to peck at wood and when dry, the acrylic paint becomes plastic-like and can harm birds.

Other pets and animals:

In general, water-based acrylic paints are not poisonous to any pets in small amounts. If a great amount is ingested, however, proper care and attention should be given. Lead-based acrylic paint is toxic and should be avoided.

As a general rule, use water-based color materials when pets are around. They are non-toxic unlike the lead-based ones and can easily be washed away if things get messy.

What happens if a dog or cat eats acrylic paint?

If a dog or cat eats acrylic paint, the first thing to do would be to understand the amount eaten. If it is a small amount, then feed the cat or dog water or milk to dilute the product. This will reduce the chance of acrylic paint upsetting the stomach.

But if a large amount is ingested, the cat or dog may experience vomiting and diarrhea. In addition to that, it may go through lethargy and tremors and have difficulty walking as well as breathing difficulty. In such a case, visiting the local vet as soon as possible is important.

It is advised to use non-toxic paint materials such as water-based paints. Using lead-based paints that are toxic can be harmful as ingesting such paint may lead to fatal consequences.

What to do if your dog or cat eats acrylic paint?

The first thing to do would be to call the closest veterinarian. Inducing vomiting of the dog or cat to expel the art materials may cause the materials or fumes to be inhaled into the lungs resulting in further complications.

Moreover, no medications should be administered unless instructed by a vet.

The next thing to do is try to dilute the product consumed. To do this, feed or encourage the cat or dog to eat a small snack, water, or some milk. This will help dilute the material consumed and reduce the risk of upsetting the stomach.

It is worth mentioning that if there is paint on the fur or the skin, it should be mildly washed with soap and water. Trimmers should be used to get rid of the painted fur but not scissors as they may cut the skin.

Is acrylic paint toxic or safe for these pets?

Below is a table with some common pets and if acrylic paints are harmful to them.

Pets Is acrylic paint toxic?
Guinea pigsNo
Bearded dragonsNo
Leopard geckosNo

How to get acrylic paint off my cat or dog fur?

First, apply some mineral oil to the affected area to help loosen the paint and let it stay for about ten minutes. Next, use mild dish soap to wash the fur. If the paint stays, gently trim the fur with clippers.

Using a scissor to cut the fur is not recommended. It can cut the skin of the cat or dog.

Is artist acrylic paint toxic?

No, artist acrylic paints are not toxic. Most of these are mainly water-based which means these can be easily washed off with water and do not contain any harmful chemicals. Lead-based acrylic paints, however, are toxic to human and animal health.

In addition to that, acrylic paint when used for airbrushing, can be toxic too. Also, sanding a wall that had acrylic paint releases fine particles of paint with harmful chemicals so inhaling them will be harmful. Although non-toxic, artist acrylic paints, if swallowed in large quantity can prove to be toxic.

Is acrylic paint toxic to plants?

Acrylic paints are not toxic to plants in general. Almost all acrylic paints are water-based. However, it should be noted that certain conditions make them negative for plants.

While drying, acrylic paints give off a small number of chemicals. If the environment is not ventilated properly, these fumes can be harmful to the plants.

Having proper airflow will prevent the buildup of such chemicals in the air for a long time and let the plants breathe freely.

If acrylic paints are used for sanding and airbrushing, plants exposed to the released paint chemicals for a long time will be harmed. As mentioned before, having quality ventilation will prevent this and carry away harmful chemicals.

Is acrylic paint toxic to inhale, ingest, or swallow?

Acrylic paint is toxic to inhale, ingest, or swallow. Even though acrylic paints are water-based, these may contain heavy metals like cadmium, cobalt, manganese, etcetera, when inhaled, may enter the lungs.

From there, it will enter the circulatory system and possibly deposit in the liver causing liver damage.

If swallowed, acrylic paint can be harmful and, if ingested in larger quantities, it will be toxic. Similar to inhaling acrylic paint, consuming it will cause it to enter the circulatory system and cause irritation inside the mouse, tongue, and throat.

From there, it will travel to different organs and cause organ damage, failure, or worse.

Ingesting acrylic paint will have worse consequences. It will cause vomiting and may also cause allergic reactions if the person is allergic to any ingredients used in the product. Furthermore, irritations in the intestines are expected.

Is acrylic paint toxic when dry, heated, or burned?

Yes, acrylic paint is toxic when dry, heated but not when burned. While drying, these release harmful chemicals into the air. If inhaled,  it can cause damage to the lungs as well as other organs by mixing in the bloodstream.

Sometimes, acrylic paint applied on walls is directly exposed to sunlight, causing it to be heated or warmed. When heated, acrylic paints can release Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) that are harmful chemicals.

Inhalation of such chemicals harms the body and may result in severe consequences.

Unlike the above cases, when burned, acrylic paint does not develop any smoke. It produces a harmless vapor, unlike the smoke produced by wood and paper. It burns out quickly but does not extinguish itself.

Final Thoughts

Nearly all acrylic colors are water-based and, so, non-toxic to humans and animals except for some. However, these are harmful to plants due to chemicals released while drying and when heated by the sun. If ingested or swallowed by a pet or human, immediately consult a doctor or veterinarian.