Are watercolor paints toxic to dogs?

As an artist you should obviously be well aware that you shouldn’t let your paints and art supplies lie around unattended if you have pets or kids.

Still it might happen every now and then that you forget about them and your dog drinks a  bit of the water you use to clean your brush or licks the watercolor pans.

How do you have to react if something like that happened?

Most watercolors are classified as having “no substances in sufficient quantities to be toxic”. Still you obviously shouldn’t feed your pets with it and definitely consult a vet if you’re unsure. But just because they are toxic doesn’t mean that you can’t have your dog around while painting. Just make sure that you store your paints out of their reach and keep an eye open.

dog, animal, art

What to do if my dog ate or drank watercolor?

If your dog just licked one sip of “watercolor-water”, you probably don’t have to worry, but I am no doctor, so you should give your vet a call, just to make sure.

If they ate or drank more than that, I would strongly advise you to get a professional opinion on the topic immediately.

How do I know if my dog ate watercolor?

As he wont answer you if you ask him, the only way to get an idea, is to look for symptoms. Examples of those would be nausea or vomiting.

How to avoid any problems in the first place

Firstly you could obviously keep your dog in another room while you are working on a painting. Either keep your door shut or install a dog door that leaves the room and the airflow open, while still keeping your dog out. 

If that isn’t possible or you just want to have your dog with you while painting, you could keep all your equipment somewhere where they definitely can’t reach it. 

Also you could consider wearing gloves while painting, so you don’t pet your dog with paint on your hands, which they could lick of, or obviously mess up their fur. 

I would suggest using cotton gloves which are re-usable after washing them. They are cheaper and smell better than silicone gloves. Additionally they create way less trash and keep the environment clean.

If you want to be completely sure that your dog doesn’t eat or drink your paints, you could make sure that he or she isn’t able to be in the room unattended at any time. That’s probably a little excessive, if you’re already storing your supplies out of his or her reach, but would just make sure that nothing happens.

color, watercolour, color palette

Can it affect the skin of my dog?

Watercolor on a dog’s skin may irritate the skin a bit and make the furr a bit sticky, so it should be sufficient to shower him or her and it should be fine. 

If the irritation doesn’t go away over time, you should consult a vet.

How do I know how dangerous my specific watercolors are?

Most of the time you can find some sort of information on that directly on your product. So just take a close look and maybe search on google for the information or contact the producer if you can’t seem to find it anywhere.

Most paints are labeled ACMI AP which means they are an “Approved Product”. ACMI means “Art and Creative Materials Institute”, which is an association of manufacturers which seek to promote safety in art products.

If a product is approved, it means that it doesn’t contain materials that could be toxic to humans. 

They did not state how toxic it is to dogs or other animals, as I would guess it depends on the breed etc.

If they are labeled ACMI CL, you should be careful with them as that means “Cautionary Labeling”, which means they aren’t dangerous, but shouldn’t be given to children below the age of 11, as they might not give it the carefulness it needs.

To make this all easier, you can just sort your paints in different boxes, so you also know what you can give to your kids/ students etc.

Disclaimer: This article proposes a common sense approach to the potential of toxic ingredients found in art materials. I am not a health expert. The content of this article is for information only. I give no assurance regarding the accuracy or applicability of the content herein. You are responsible for your own health and safety. I encourage you to do your own research if you have any concerns.

2 thoughts on “Are watercolor paints toxic to dogs?”

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