How To Find Paint That Isn't Toxic To Your Dog

Your guide to a pet-friendly home makeover 🏠

pet friendly paint

We independently pick all the products we recommend because we love them and think you will too. If you buy a product from a link on our site, we may earn a commission.

If you’re dying to slap a new coat of paint on your walls, whether it’s to refresh the old color or change it up completely, it’s important to keep your pet’s safety in mind.

If you aren’t careful, the paint you use — or even the fumes — could end up being toxic to your dog or cat.

The Dodo spoke with Dr. Alex Crow, a veterinarian with Happiest Dog, and Dr. Maureen K. Murithi, a veterinarian working with Pet Keen, to figure out how to find the best pet-safe paint.

Is paint safe for pets?

A lot of paint isn’t safe for pets, which is why you need to be super careful when you’re giving your home a makeover.

“It might not be something you think about when painting your home, but some paint can actually be very toxic to your pets,” Dr. Crow told The Dodo.

Paint poisoning symptoms

A lot of paints contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are chemicals that turn into those nasty, heavy fumes that come from wet paint.

“Paints containing such compounds release fumes, which, when inhaled by pets, can cause serious harm,” Dr. Murithi told The Dodo.

Symptoms of paint poisoning in pets include:

  • Dizziness
  • Hair loss
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Gastrointestinal irritation
  • Neurological effects

How to find pet-safe paint

Luckily, it’s possible to find pet-safe paint. But to pick them out, you’re going to need to know what to look for.

“Many paints do not say specifically on them if they are pet-safe or not, so you should instead be looking at the ingredients,” Dr. Crow said.

According to Dr. Crow, you’ll want to keep an eye out for products that are:

  • Non-toxic
  • Water-based
  • Carcinogen-free
  • Petrochemical-free
  • Free of heavy metals
  • Low-VOC or VOC-free

You’ll also want to avoid paints that are made with ingredients like:

  • Ammonia
  • Polyurethane
  • Acetone

“All of these ingredients are harmful to pets and, in some cases, to humans as well,” Dr. Crow said. “It is best to avoid a paint if it contains these chemicals.”

Tips for painting with pets in the house

Dr. Crow and Dr. Murithi offered up a few tips for painting with pets in the house.

Keep your pet somewhere separate

Even if you manage to find the most pet-safe paint in the world, it’s probably best to keep your pet out of the splash zone.

“When you begin painting your house, you want to ensure your pet is not around,” Dr. Crow said. “Keep them in your yard or a separate room, where they cannot get into the paint or breathe in the fumes.”

Now, that’s not always possible. So if your BFF needs to be nearby, you should still keep him contained.

“If you choose to paint with your pooch, place him in a crate to prevent accidents,” Dr. Murithi said.

And if you’re on the hunt for a good crate, we tried the Diggs Revol crate ourselves and absolutely loved it.

Get it from Diggs for $375

Open a door or window

If your pet’s in the room with you, it’s definitely a good idea to let some fresh air in — and some of the thick, stinky air out.

“Make sure the area is well ventilated to prevent inhalation of fumes that can be quite toxic to your pet,” Dr. Murithi said.

Honestly, it’s probably a good idea even if your pet isn’t in the room so you don’t get lightheaded yourself.

Try to find a quick-drying option

As a pet parent, you know pets will lick and chew anything. So the faster your paint dries, the sooner you can give your pet free roam of the house.

“Teething puppies run the risk of chewing either dried or wet paint, which can be quite poisonous if not safe for pets,” Dr. Murithi said. “Always go for quick-drying formulas.”

Best pet-safe paint

The Dodo rounded up some of the best pet-safe paint options so shopping doesn’t have to be so stressful.

Best overall: The Real Milk Paint

Both Dr. Crow and Dr. Murithi agreed that The Real Milk Paint is one of the best pet-safe paints out there. It’s VOC-free, works on all sorts of surfaces and comes in a bunch of fun colors, including plum, dijon, tree bark, mocha, willow, warm ash, boardwalk, cocoa, black iron and Arabian night.

Benjamin Moore Aura

This low-VOC option is a paint and primer all in one. It only takes an hour to dry and literally comes in thousands of colors.

Best exterior: Behr Premium Plus

This exterior paint is made with a low-VOC formula. It works as both a paint and a primer, and is designed to resist fading and moisture.

Best finisher: The Real Milk Paint Finishing Cream

You can complete your paint job with this low-VOC, water-based finishing cream. It’s great because it’s low-odor and dries within 60 minutes.

Best paint remover: The Real Milk Paint Citrus Solvent

This is a natural and safer alternative to paint thinner, since it’s made with 98 percent citrus peel oil and 2 percent water.

So now that you know what to look for in pet-safe paint, you can take on that new paint job and keep your BFF safe while you work.