Is Acrylic Paint Pet-Safe?

Whether you’re considering a fresh coat of paint on your wooden furniture or sprucing up the walls in your living space, acrylic paint can be a great choice.

It’s water-based, quick-drying, and easy to clean up with just soap and water. However, is acrylic paint pet-safe?

We did some research to find out.

is acrylic paint pet safe

Is acrylic paint toxic to pets?

Some acrylic paints can pose a potential risk to pets due to the presence of heavy metals like lead or cadmium and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as formaldehyde.

On the other hand, paints labeled as non-toxic, or VOC-free, are usually considered more environmentally friendly and shouldn’t cause harm to pets when used as directed.

To keep your pet (and yourself) safe, it’s important to only paint in a ventilated space, especially when airbrushing or sanding, as inhalation of small particles can be unhealthy.

Needless to say, ingestion of acrylic paint is never recommended, regardless of the type of pet you have.

Next, let’s get more specific:


Most acrylic paints aren’t considered harmful to dogs, but it’s best to keep them away from them as much as possible.

Dogs have a more sensitive sense of smell compared to humans, and inhaling the fumes of acrylic paint can be overwhelming for them. That said, don’t worry too much if they happen to get a little bit of acrylic paint on their fur or paws.

Actually, some people even use it purposely to create dog awesome paw prints!

Simply wash it off with mild soap and warm water to prevent any irritation or ingestion. If the paint has already dried, use a comb or brush to carefully loosen it or soften it by lightly rubbing a few drops of oil into the fur.


Like dogs, cats should stay away from acrylic paints.

In fact, cats have a more meticulous grooming routine compared to dogs and may lick their fur extensively, increasing the risk of ingesting dangerous substances. They also have a heightened sense of smell and can be more sensitive to strong fumes.

If by any chance your cat gets some fresh acrylic paint on them, immediately wipe it off with a damp cloth, making sure not to let it dry.

Small animals

In case you keep small animals such as rabbits, guinea pigs, or hamsters, you need to be extra careful when painting with acrylics.

These pets are known for their curious nature and tendency to chew on things, which makes them more likely to come into contact with wet or dried acrylic paint.

Unfortunately, ingesting even small amounts of paint can be risky to these gentle creatures. Similarly, the toxic fumes released by the drying acrylic paint can also irritate their respiratory systems.


Acrylic paint is generally considered safe for fish when used outside of the aquarium.

Paint should never be directly added or applied to the tank water as fish are highly sensitive to changes in their environment and can easily become stressed or poisoned if exposed to certain chemicals.


When using acrylic paint around birds, it’s crucial to double-check that it doesn’t contain any heavy metals, especially lead.

In addition, the fumes emitted by certain acrylic paints can be harmful to birds, so it’s recommended to move your birds to another room and keep them away from freshly painted surfaces until they’re fully dried.


Turtles, lizards, snakes, and other reptiles also need to be kept in mind when using paints.

Like with other pets, be sure to use a product that’s specifically labeled as non-toxic. This is especially true for reptiles, as they love to explore their surroundings with their tongues and may accidentally ingest any paint residue.

Tips for using acrylic paint around pets

Besides using non-toxic paint in a well-ventilated area, there are a few more tips to keep in mind when painting with pets in the house.

Firstly, you need to store your paints properly. Ensure that the containers are tightly sealed and kept out of reach from curious animals. You should also clean up any spills or drips immediately to prevent your pet from coming into contact with the paint.

RELATED: How to Dispose of Oil-Based Paint?

Secondly, if you have a particularly curious pet that likes to investigate everything, it might be wise to create a designated safe space for them during your painting sessions.

Set up a playpen or gated area where they can still observe but be safely kept away from hazards like wet paint or open containers.

What to do if your pet ingests acrylic paint

While you should always take preventive measures to ensure your pet’s safety, accidents can still happen.

Check the label of the paint to see if it contains any specific warnings or ingredients that may be harmful to pets, and take note of the amount and color of the paint consumed, as this information will be helpful when you speak with your veterinarian.

Contacting your vet should be your next step. Describe the situation in detail and provide all relevant information about the paint ingestion.

In some pets, inducing vomiting may be recommended by a professional. Yet, this should only be done under veterinary guidance since certain types of paint can cause more harm if brought back up.

While waiting for further instructions from your vet, keep a close eye on your pet’s behavior and look for any signs of discomfort or distress.

In dogs, cats, and small animals like rabbits, some common symptoms to look out for include lethargy, gastrointestinal upset, and loss of appetite.

For fish, birds, and reptiles, the symptoms may be different and range from changes in swimming behavior to abnormal shedding or skin discoloration.

In summary

While some acrylic paints may contain harmful toxins that can pose a risk to pets if ingested or inhaled, there are also non-toxic, pet-safe options available on the market.

But even non-toxic paints should be used with caution around pets, so make sure to store them in a secure location and ensure proper ventilation when you’re using them indoors to help minimize potential risks.