What Should I Do If My Dog Ate Nail Polish?


Accidental pet poisoning is not very uncommon so you do all you can to make your house as safe as possible for your pet but unfortunately not all mishaps can be avoided. Being a responsible pet owner you always want to be prepared if your pet ate common household items that are toxic to them. One of those such item is human nail polish. In this post we will discuss what course to take if your dog accidentally ate, inhaled, or absorbed nail polish through his/her skin. We will also talk briefly what not do in such stressful situation.

Here is what to do if your dog ate nail polish

Call your primary veterinarian

Consumption of a small amount of nail polish will not cause any serious toxicity and your dog may appear normal even after ingesting it. But it is always better to call and visit vet and take professional medical advice immediately. Bring along the bottle of nail polish ingested by your dog and if it’s not your primary vet clinic, bring your dog’s medical past record as well.

The faster you access medical help for your dog, better the chance for recovery.

Keep a watchful eye on your dog

Immediately secure your dog. Make sure that your dog does not ingest anymore nail polish. Check how much it has ingested and keep it out of the reach of your dog. If you have other pet, place them in a separate space of your home where they can not come in contact with your dog.

Give your dog bath

If your dog came in contact with nail polish, it will get absorbed through skin so it is advisable to give your dog a bath but ask the vet first.

Nail polish also tend to stick to hair of dog.

Stay calm

It is natural to panic knowing that your beloved pet consumed something that is harmful to them.  Uncertainty of the outcome can be worrying but you have to stay calm in order take the control of the situation. Calling vet, observing your dog, giving bath all requires you to be calm and cool-headed.

What not to do if your dog ate nail polish

Do not induce vomiting

It seems logical but do not induce your dog to vomit. Due to chemicals in nail polish, when dog vomits back up it can cause caustic injury to oesophagus. Always get vet advice first before you take any action.

It is worth remembering that it’s late to induce vomiting if the symptoms of poisoning are already visible.

Refrain from home remedies

Without veterinarian instruction, do not resort to home remedies. Giving your dog milk or peanut butter can make the the condition of your dog even worse. Don’t search for answers on internet to administer home remedies. Go to vet or call the vet.  Always seek professional veterinarian assistance.

Symptoms of Nail Polish Poisoning

Nail polish is caustic to gastrointestinal tract so you will see symptoms like:

  • Diarrhea
  • Drooling
  • Vomiting

Sometimes dog will not exhibit any symptoms of poisoning immediately. It may take hours to days or even months to appear, however, it may display behavior such as:

  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite

If your dog is experiencing severe toxicity, it will display (in addition to above symptoms) the following symptoms:

  • Seizures
  • Tremors
  • Difficulty in breathing

Whenever you see any of the signs appearing, you should seek consultation from vet without any delay. If it is after hours, call 24 hour veterinary hospital.

Why is nail polish toxic to dogs?

Many cosmetic brands have toxic free claim on their nail polish bottles. Regardless of the label on the bottle, nail polishes are formulated with chemicals that are toxic to dogs and to humans. Some of these chemicals are:

Dibutyl phthalate

This chemical can make your dog retch, gag, and drool profusely. Heavy ingestion of this chemical can lead to vomiting and severe symptoms of toxicity.

Purpose of dibutyl phthalate (also called DBP) is to prevent cracking and chipping of nail polish.


This hydrocarbon compound causes toxicity in your dog. Your dog can show symptoms of poisoning just by inhaling it’s strong odor.

Purpose of toluene is to make nail polish smooth and even.


It is a preservative found in almost all nail polishes. It hardens the polish on nail. If your dog got this chemical on it’s body, it will get absorbed through their skin. Research has shown that formaldehyde is carcinogenic for dogs.

Formaldehyde is also found in new home furnishings and household cleaners.

Final Thought

Even if your dog doesn’t show any symptoms of poisoning but if you suspect that your dog ate nail polish then bring him/her to the vet immediately. Absence of symptoms doesn’t equate to no ill effect of poisoning. Your dog can suffer from irregular heart beat, kidney damage or liver failure in the long run.

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