My Dog Licked Paint! Are They in Any Danger?

If you’ve had a dog for a while, you understand just how much these canines seek adventures. They enjoy running around and are always curious. Unfortunately, this can lead them down dangerous paths. Not only can they end up hitting things in their rush to get to places, but they can also end up eating the most random of things.

For instance, they may eat aluminum cans they find lying around the house or even highlighters you may have left out after an art project. Believe it or not, dogs have even been known to lick paint – imagine, paint of all things. So it’s important to understand how to deal with such situations. 

Fortunately, this is where we come in. In this post, we are going to talk about why dogs lick paint if it’s dangerous for them and whether or not they’ll be okay when they do so. Ultimately, we are going to arm you with information that will be useful for years to come. 

Is Paint Poisonous to Dogs?

Most paint isn’t poisonous to dogs when ingested in small amounts. If the paint contains heavy metals like lead, though, even small amounts are poisonous. No matter which type of paint you have, it is poisonous for your dog if they ingest copious amounts.

Generally, lead-based paints are the most poisonous to dogs and other pets. A single small chip of this kind of paint can contain 50mg to 200mg of lead – enough to poison a twenty-pound dog. As such, ingestion of multiple chips can even poison a large dog, especially if they are young or pregnant. Since lead-based paints are poisonous, they have been banned in the United States since 1978. 

However, they aren’t regulated in all countries, so you should always be wary of the kind of paint used in your home. Keep in mind that other types of paint may pose a risk, too, although a smaller one. For instance, some latex paints contain ethylene glycol (antifreeze) – a chemical that, when taken in large doses, can have neurological effects and cause kidney failure. 

Also, all types of paint can release fumes that can irritate your dog’s eyes or respiratory system.

Is Acrylic Paint Toxic to Dogs?

If your dog ingests a small amount of acrylic paint, they’ll be fine. In large quantities, though, it can make them sick. But even in such cases, the sickness usually lasts only a couple of days and doesn’t need medical intervention. 

Unlike oil-based paints, acrylic paints don’t contain chemical solvents. These solvents are what make some paints thicker and have a strong smell. As they evaporate, they usually release volatile organic compounds (VOCs). And when you or your pet are exposed to these fumes, you can get dizzy, experience eye irritation, and even have difficulty breathing.

Continuous exposure to some of these VOCs can even cause cancer over time. Ultimately, oil-based paints are more toxic than acrylic and other water-based options. So if your dog ingests one of them, give them water immediately and watch out for signs of oil paint poisoning. 

Will My Dog Be Okay if They Ate Paint?

If your dog eats lead-based paint, it will become sick and need medical assistance immediately. But if they ate a small quantity of another type of paint, they will probably be fine – only large amounts will make them sick. You will have to monitor them vigilantly if they ate oil-based paints, though.

When your dog ingests lead-based paint, it will exhibit symptoms like gastrointestinal issues, problems with red cell production, and neurologic effects. On the other hand, ingestion of ordinary oil-based paints in large quantities can cause symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea. In most cases, ingestion of large quantities of water-based paints will only cause mild symptoms like skin irritation and an upset stomach.

It is only outliers like latex paints that cause more severe symptoms. Whatever the case, though, always monitor your dog’s symptoms and call the vet when things escalate. And in cases where your dog has ingested lead-based paint, prepare to also get tested for lead poisoning – this metal is dangerous to you as well. 

Will My Dog Be Okay if They Licked Paint Thinner?

If your dog licks paint thinner, they can get lesions in their mouth and ulcerations in their stomach. This usually makes your dog drool and be in pain or discomfort. However, the severity of the damage caused will depend on how much thinner they ingested – the more they ate, the more danger they are in. Ultimately, you will have to either treat the condition at home or take your dog to the vet’s office to get them to normal health. 

Since paint thinner is corrosive, it should never be in contact with your dog’s skin, let alone their mouth. It causes skin irritation and will eat into their tongue and mouth, all the way to their stomach. So if you notice your dog has eaten paint thinner, feed them milk and an antacid like omeprazole – give them 0.5mg of antacid per pound of their weight. This should be done twice a day for a period of 3 to 5 days to effectively treat their wounds and prevent further stomach damage. 

However, it’s always best to go to the vet for a more thorough treatment plan. When you get there, the vet will first check your dog’s mouth and throat for lesions using a scope. This will help them accurately assess the severity of the damage. Afterward, they will prescribe a suitable medication such as sucralfate.  

Why Is My Dog Licking Paint Off the Wall?

There are several reasons your dog could be licking the paint off the wall. For one, they could just be bored when you’re not around and find it to be a fun activity. Alternatively, they could be sick, stressed, or anxious. Finally, they could have Pica – an obsessive-compulsive disorder.

When dogs are bored and left alone for hours at a time, they can get into a lot of mischief. This includes licking things that they are not supposed to lick, like paint and walls. Also, stressed and anxious dogs can use licking paint off the wall as a way to release tension. Those who are sick may do this, too, particularly as a way to cope with the symptoms of their illness. 

Some vets have even suggested that dogs who lack a certain nutrient can lick the paint off the wall so that they can eat the drywall. But the most hard-to-deal-with reason behind dogs licking paint has to be Pica. This obsessive compulsive-disorder makes your dog want to eat non-food items, continuously putting them at risk of poisoning and bowel obstruction. To treat it, you will have to get your dog an appointment with an animal behaviorist or vet. 


When it comes to dogs, always expect the unexpected, even if it’s them licking paint or thinner. This way, you’ll never be surprised and will always be ready to swoop into action. So if your dog has recently eaten paint, take a deep breath and take our advice. Whether you end up at the vet or monitoring your dog’s symptoms at home, remember you’ve got this! 


  • Brad

    Hi I'm Brad, the founder of Having been a vet of 6 years I work alongside our team to provide valuable insight into your dog's health. I have a frenchie myself named Senzu who is my pride and joy!