Is Nail Polish Toxic & Bad for Dogs Who Lick or Eat It?

If your dog licked your nail polish remover or swallowed a painted nail, you might wonder if it’s safe or will they be sick. Pay close attention after the incident and monitor them for possible symptoms or adverse reactions. If anything seems out of the ordinary in their mood or eating habits, then a trip to the vet might be required.


Thankfully, most nail polish brands today are mostly made from non-toxic substances, but it also depends on the product quality. The cheaper the bottle the more likely they are to factor in manufacturing costs over the safety of your dog.

I am sure that most of us love our pets, dogs especially. Man’s best friend shows us unconditional love and is always there to watch out for us and protect us, but something they need a little protection from us.

First Step

So what to do if your dog eats or licks nail polish?

The first thing to do is to remain calm. The fact that your dog ate or licked nail polish or nail polish remover may not be such a big issue since most brands these days sell non-toxic products, therefore, in most cases, your dog will be unharmed. However, if you are concerned, or spot unusual behavior in your dog, consult your veterinarian.

There are several factors to consider including:

  • Is there a toxic sign on the bottle?
  • How much nail polish did your dog ingest?
  • What’s the size of the dog?

You should be aware of all the risks and also actions to take if your dog ate nail polish remover. There are several other factors to consider, so for the sake of your loyal pet please keep reading while I explain.

By the way, have you ever considered getting pet insurance? You know it can save you tons of money in the long run. Before deciding purchasing a new policy, be sure to ask these 10 important pet insurance questions.

What are the risks if My Dog Ate nail polish remover?

The quantity of nail polish or nail polish remover is the key part in deciding the risk level. Check how much is left in the bottle and to see if any of it may have ended up on a carpet. A small amount of either will most likely be taken care of by the acid in your dog’s stomach. The most that may happen is stomach cramps and a possible loss of appetite for a while.

Is nail polish toxic or harmful to dogs?

There are no clear-cut answers, so it is always advisable to err on the side of caution. There have been tests done on various nail products, which showed that even nail polishes labeled as “toxin-free” in fact contained one of DBP (toluene, formaldehyde or dibutyl phthalate) which are actually known as the “toxic three”. Clearly, this is a potential cause for concern.

These chemicals have been proven to be harmful to health if inhaled, so we can only speculate on what damage they would cause if swallowed by your pet. It is a matter for our judgment to decide the level of risk involved. Some veterinary experts believe that the risk is minimal and not too much to worry about. You should, however, consider the potential risk to you and your pet if you choose to use nail polish products that contain any of these chemicals.

We would certainly recommend that you seek out the safest “toxin-free” nail polish products (check prices on Amazon) and be aware of the name of the three chemicals (DBP). Always check the labeling and choose the most natural and eco-friendly option.

Possible Symptoms

If vomiting occurs it could indicate a more serious problem, and it may mean Fido has eaten the whole bottle! Use your judgment to decide whether to call your vet, but if he is in obvious distress you should reach for your phone! Other common symptoms:

Dog laying on the floor
  • Diarrhea
  • Drooling
  • Vomiting
  • Seizure
  • Tremors
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy

These are common signs of poisoning in dogs and if you start to see any of the signs and they continue improving, then you should seek advice from a vet immediately.

My dog ate a paper towel with nail polish remover what should I do?

It is highly unlikely your dog will get sick from eating a simple paper towel with nail polish remover on it as the quantity is probably too small to do much harm. However, you should observe him for a few days in case there is any change in behavior like a loss of appetite or vomiting.

My dog ate dried nail polish, will he get sick?

Your dog will be fine if he ate just a little bit. The most that could happen is a little upset stomach. As the nail polish is dried it is most likely non-toxic and it will be a non-issue. Unless any obvious symptoms occur like vomiting, there is little to worry about.

I suspect my dog has eaten nail polish remover, how long should I observe him?

There is unlikely to be any danger as your dog’s stomach acid is likely to take care of the issue, but you should monitor him for a period of one to four days just to see if there might be signs of stomach cramps or a lack of appetite, but do not be overly concerned.

At what stage should I start to worry if my dog might have eaten something he should not?

If you suspect your dog may have eaten something he should not have and may have accidentally been poisoned, you should observe him for signs of changes in behavior, which may indicate a problem.

If your dog shows real signs of distress, such as prolonged vomiting or seizure you should contact your vet immediately. Under no circumstances should you attempt any home cure such as inducing vomiting, it could make the problem far worse!

other household poisons To Your Dog

There is a wide range of things around your house and backyard which could potentially harm your pet from the obvious poisons to some unexpected items.

Below is by no means a comprehensive list, and even simple plant bulbs could potentially be a source of poison. However, some of the more common ones are:

  • Raisins
  • Chocolate
  • Bleach
  • Oven cleaner
  • Acorns
  • Plant bulbs
  • Xylitol
  • Laundry detergent
  • Paracetamol
  • Antidepressants
  • Rat Poison
  • Yew trees

Keeping Your Home Poison Free

Every year many dogs die tragically in their homes because of poisoning. They accidentally ingest poisonous substances that are left carelessly around the house. If people would be more careful, most of these accidents could be avoided. Therefore, to keep your home free of poison make sure that you do not leave things around that could be harmful to your dog.

Restrain access to cleaning supplies

Dogs learn how to get into closets and low cabinet areas where cleaning supplies are stored and somehow manage to ingest something that accidentally poisons them. To protect your dog from getting into the closets or low cabinet areas, check the doors to make sure that they fit properly. You can also install child proof or pet proof locks on the doors so that your dog cannot open them.

Make sure that you always keep cleaning supplies away from your dog in areas where he cannot reach them and make sure that the caps are securely in place. Do not leave any cleaning supplies that you are using unattended at any time and within reach of your dog. It will only take him a moment to lick bleach or any other cleaning product that is harmful to him and make him sick. Your dog can even become ill just by sniffing bleach.

Be cautious when it comes to meds

According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), human medications have been the top hazard on their list of pet poisons for many years. In 2008, they received more than 50,000 calls about pets taking both prescription and over the counter pills. Therefore, it is very important that you keep human medications completely out of the reach of your dog at all times. It is preferable if you keep them in a medicine cabinet where your dog cannot reach them.

When using flea and tick medications on your dog, make sure that you follow the instructions on the label. Always make sure that you use the correct flea and tick medication on your dog as poisoning related to them has always been a real problem. Also, make sure that you keep other insecticides away from him because they could be harmful if ingested.

Other dangers

You should also make sure that you keep drain cleaners, anti-freeze, and other chemicals in a safe place away from your dog. If he ingests any of these products, they can kill him. Rat poison is very harmful to your dog and can kill him so do not use it near him.

There are some houseplants that are poisonous to dogs, so if you have any, keep them away from your dog, preferably up high where he cannot reach them. You should also keep plants that are not poisonous away from your dog to avoid him from digging into them.

In addition to those items mentioned above that can be poisonous to your dog, you should be careful what you give him to eat. A specific item that is extremely dangerous and can poison your dog is chocolate. If eaten, it can cause your dog to have tremors, seizures and heart problems.

You can avoid a lot of problems if you keep things that you bring home away from your dog. For instance, do not leave a can of paint that you bring into the house or fluid used to light your barbecue grill carelessly. Your dog can easily get to it and if ingested can definitely poison him. Always exercise caution to protect your dog and don’t let him become a victim.