Is Acrylic Paint Toxic for Kids or Pets?

Is Acrylic Paint Toxic for Kids or Pets

The demand for acrylic paints began to increase dramatically from the 1960s. There are many reasons for this development. First, these paints are less harmful, which has prompted public health and environmental legislation to favor them. For their part, the paint manufacturers sought to limit the use of solvents in any case.

Is Acrylic Paint Toxic?

Acrylic paints are water-based, meaning they are non-toxic. When not inhaled in large quantities or ingested, they are not harmful to users, pets, or children. However, they may be toxic if they contain solvents such as VOCs! In this case, diluting the paint thins out the toxins and makes them generally safe.

Water-based paints also have many practical advantages over solvent-based paints: they give off a much less unpleasant odor, dry faster, and the paint materials can be washed with water. But is acrylic paint toxic to use? In this article, we’ll answer all your questions regarding the safety of using this paint. 

Toxic and Non-toxic Kind Paint

What Kind of Paint Is Toxic? 

From acrylic to oil and watercolors, some paints may contain toxic compounds like VOCs. Watch out for the labels; toxic paints will have on the labels warnings of toxic elements like lead, manganese, chromium, cobalt, and cadmium. It is imperative that these paints are used outdoors or where the room is ventilated. 

What Kind of Paint Is Non-toxic and Safe?

Generally, paints with no volatile organic compounds (VOC) are usually non-toxic and safe to use. Latex and acrylic paints are less toxic and polluting than solvent-dilutable synthetic paints. They contain tiny synthetic particles that are not retained by any water treatment plant and pollute waterways. 

Toxic Effects of Different Paint Formulations

Generally, all paints have the capacity to cause health issues for your pets. Regardless of the formulations, paints contain solutions and fumes, which, if inhaled by dogs and cats, can cause eye irritation, skin irritation, or respiratory issues.  

Poisoning is another effect of inhaling paint. This occurs when your dog or cat chews food on a surface that’s littered with a pigment of lead-based paint or varnish. If they also ingest flakes or lead-based paint peels, they can be poisoned. If not attended to immediately or the pet is allowed to repeatedly ingest dry paint, it can lead to more severe health issues, including death.

Water- and latex-based acrylic paints

Specifically, side, water-based acrylic paints are less poisonous and won’t cause irritation of the skin or upset in the gastrointestinal areas. Some latex-based acrylic paints are formulated with a large concentration of ethylene, making them dangerous for pets. They can lead to skin failure.

Lead-based acrylic based paint

Led-based paint can be very dangerous to your pet. They can cause health effects including neurological damage or gastrointestinal irritation. A far-reaching consequence of ingesting lead-based paints may also include interference with red blood cells. Sadly, many acrylic paint brands out there integrate led into their oil-based paint formulations.

Oil-based acrylic based paint

Oil-based paints and varnishes can also cause damaging health issues, including difficulty in breathing, vomiting, lung and kidney failure, and diarrhea. This is due to the presence of poisonous solvents that your dog or cat can inhale.

Chemical Composition of Acrylic Paint

Acrylic paint is made up of two main elements: pigments of mineral or organic origin and the binder, an emulsion of water, and acrylic or polymer resin which can contain synthetic compounds. It dries by evaporating the water it contains and not by evaporating volatile organic solvents, unlike oil paints. It, therefore, contains few volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

Is Acrylic Paint Environmentally Friendly?

Acrylic paint is considered more “green” and ecological because it contains little VOCs. A classic acrylic paint is formulated with up to 65% of substances of petroleum origin, and synthetic resins serve as a binder. They contained heavy metals like toluene, styrene monomer, xylene, and benzene solvent, which can be hazardous and affect the aquatic environment when washed down to water streams. However, the synthetic ingredients are now replaced in the ecological formulas by vegetable oil (linseed, rapeseed, pine, etc.) or by a mineral powder such as quartz. 

The Harm of Acrylic Paint to The Skin

Is Acrylic Paint Harmful to The Skin?

You never can tell. Acrylic paints with VOCs or other toxic compositions are harmful to the skin. It is better to limit contact with the skin. The paint may be non-toxic in composition but enough to be irritating to the skin. 

How to Effectively Remove Acrylic from Skin?

One of the best ways to remove acrylic from the skin is using isopropyl alcohol

  • Wash the area with soap and water. If the paint has already dried on the skin, start washing the area with warm water and soap. 
  • To keep the water on your skin from diluting the alcohol, pat the washed area dry with a towel. 
  • Get a washcloth or large cotton ball. Soak the rag or cotton ball in about 1 ounce of regular rubbing alcohol. Alcohol is a solvent for acrylic paint, which will dissolve the paint when applied to the skin.
  • Dab the area with the washcloth or cotton ball to get it wet and give the alcohol time to react with the color. 
  • Scrub the area until the paint is completely gone, applying new alcohol as needed.
  • Once you’ve removed all traces of paint, wash and dry the area to rid it of any residual alcohol. Isopropyl alcohol is mildly irritating to the skin and can cause redness and irritation if not rinsed off.

Hazards of Ingesting Acrylic Paint

What Are The Hazards of Exposure to Acrylic Paint Fumes?

Inhalation to the solvent vapors from acrylic paint first causes ebrio-narcotic manifestations (feeling of drunkenness, dizziness, headache, nausea). They disappear after a few hours. In the event of massive exposure, you may start to feel unconscious (drowsiness, even coma). Also, the fumes are an irritant to the nose, eyes, and throat.

Is Acrylic Paint Toxic to Breathe?

Inhaling vapors from acrylic paints may cause feelings of drunkenness, dizziness, headache, or sometimes nausea and vomiting. 

Is Acrylic Paint Toxic if Swallowed?

Yes, acrylic paint is toxic if ingested. Just because something is listed as non-toxic doesn’t mean it can be consumed. So you will see a label that says “Non-Toxic” while also being assigned a Poison Control number. 

What Are The Dangers of Inhaling Large Amounts of Acrylic Paint?

When inhaled in large amounts, eaten, or licked by children or pets, acrylic paints with toxic solvents can cause trouble with breathing, nausea, or vomiting. It can cause organ damage, organ failure, or worse, death depending on the composition!

How to Handle Accidental Ingestion of Acrylic Paint?

If acrylic paint is swallowed, do the following: 

  • Check for the poisoning contact on the product and make a call. Alternatively, you can call the emergency. 
  • Don’tDon’t panic! You won’t make a good decision out of panic.
  • While talking with the poison center, you or your child should brush your teeth thoroughly and then gargle with saltwater.
  • Drink a small amount of water or milk and get fresh air right away. 

Is Acrylic Paint Safe for Baby?

Even though some acrylic paints labeled as “non-toxic” are generally safe, it’s always advisable to make toddlers stick to other safer craft paints like watercolor. Some water-based paints are not entirely safe for the baby’s health. 

Is Acrylic Paint Toxic for Animals or Pets?

Acrylic painting always appears to be beautiful but we often ignore the side effects. An important question is: is acrylic paint toxic to dogs and cats? Yes, they can be toxic if the pets ingest or inhale them in large quantities.

On the other hand, in many cases, acrylic paint is not harmful to dogs and cats. However, the chemical composition of some paint and varnish brands can be threatening to the health of the pets. In addition, the wide range of paint formulations makes some dangerous and others not.

The target parts of your pets that acrylic paint can attack include paws, fur, and skin. By chewing, licking, inhaling, or ingesting dangerous paint or varnish, pets can get into a serious health issue. Because they are often used as sentinels for poison exposure at home, pets are vulnerable to lead poisoning.

Is Acrylic Paint Bad for Animals?

Acrylic paints are relatively non-toxic in general. However, some colors in these paints contain more pigments than the others, which may not be suitable for your animals. Turpentine is a common solvent used in acrylic paints that can irritate the skin and mucous membrane and cause vomiting. 

Is Acrylic Paint Toxic for Pets?

Acrylic paints are generally non-toxic to pets. However, be careful when sanding or airbrushing. When eaten or inhaled by pets, the paint can be hazardous. 

Is Acrylic Paint Toxic to Dogs?

Acrylic paint contains little or no toxins, but they are not hazardous to dogs insofar as they don’t eat or lick the paint. 

Is Acrylic Paint Toxic to Cats?

Most acrylic paints are considered non-toxic to humans and animals. In some regions like Europe, only non-toxic paints are allowed. However, for paints with some quantities of solvents, large intakes can cause nausea and vomiting for your pets. 

is acrylic paint toxic to dogs or cats

What to Consider When Choosing Acrylic Paint For Dogs or Cats?

Most acrylic paints are friendly to dogs and cats. On the flip side, there are certain things to consider when it comes to choosing the right acrylic paint for your pets.

Carefully Check and Read the Label

This is one of the simplest and foremost things to do when it comes to picking acrylic paint for your dog or cat. It helps to indicate if the product is toxic to your dog or cat. Although you may not mention cats or dogs, it will, however, indicate if the is any tox8c substance. With this, you can first answer the question; is acrylic paint toxic?

Working with old acrylic paint for either of these pets requires extra caution since their label may not look modern. Curious dogs or cats will sometimes need modern acrylic.

Look for Specific Colors

Is acrylic paint toxic to dogs or cats is a question you may easily answer yourself if you by watching out for certain colors. Most of these colors have it stated clearly on their labels that contents can be toxic for either of these pets. When checking on it these colors, you should mostly watch out for cobalt, chromium, and other related common colors and compounds.

You may experience confusion while watching out for the color compounds as the above are compounds and they are used to describe colors at times such as “cobalt blue” or even “lead white.” While you can easily state the presence of these compounds from the color names, using one’s discretion is important as well.

Fortunately, lots of acrylic paint manufacturers have produced eco-conscious traditional paints that are free from cadmium. Paints such as Liquitex may not leave you to ask; is acrylic paint toxic to dogs or cats?

is acrylic paint toxic for pets

When to Watch out for Paint Ingestion for Pets?


Sanding acrylic painting for removing paint from canvas is something you will want to do as it can easily save paint over mistakes or a complete restart. When it comes to sanding acrylic in these pets, it can let go of particles into the air and may affect the respiratory system of dogs and cats, including you.

Even when you may think that inhaling the compounds does not make dogs or cats toxic, the compounds may expose their health to danger. If you also think a little sanding does not seem to be a big deal, you should always remember that these pets have smaller lungs than you. Therefore, if you want to sand your acrylic, make sure it is not in the presence of your dogs or cats.


Acrylic paint can still be airbrushed for artwork. During this process, particles can escape into the air which dogs or cats can easily inhale. While airbrushing your acrylic, you should ensure it’s not in the presence of your dogs or cats. Taking proper precautions is very important by putting on goggles or a mask to avoid inhaling these particles which may lead to respiratory problems.

Tips for pets

Is acrylic paint toxic for dogs and cats, is an important question to find out before you start your painting work. While acrylic paint may not seem toxic if a reasonable amount is not ingested by dogs or cats, it is important to come up with a safety measure before you begin to apply your acrylic paint. This will prevent them from inhaling the compounds released into the air.

In this case, you will require utmost care when you airbrush or sand these pets. This is because you or either of these pets can ingest the paint. Moreover, you should always remember that certain acrylic paint colors can be toxic. It’s very important to find out about product labels before buying them.

Safe use of acrylic paint

How to Choose A Safe and Non-toxic Acrylic Paint? (factors to consider)

The first place to start is by drawing up a list and choosing ecological and non-toxic paint from the ever-growing choice of paint brands with multiple labels and certifications. Earth Pigments, Benjamin Moore Natura, and Sherwin-Williams Harmony are typical zero-VOC and non-toxic paint brands. 

Other tips include the following:

  • Choose paints formulated from a significant portion of organic or biological ingredients. An ecological composition includes a mineral or vegetable binder, water solvent, and liquid pigments.
  • Choose non-VOC paints 
  • Beware of paints with solvents.
  • Look at toxic emissions labeling.

How to Use Acrylic Paint Safely?

As some may contain a small percentage of VOCs or harmful solvents, inhalation of the fumes and ingestion of the paint by pets or children is a concern when working on acrylic paints. To use acrylic paint safely, ensure you: 

  • Don’tDon’t have kids or pets around, except they are watched and know the rules. 
  • To use acrylic paints safely, dilute them before use. 
  • Work in ventilated areas. 
  • Keep the paints out of your eyes, lungs, mouths, and skin. 
  • Wash your hands regularly. 
  • If you’re working on them indoors without ventilation, do not sand them. 

Where Can I Buy Completely Non-toxic Acrylic Paints for Hobby Painting?

The best place to find non-toxic acrylic paints is on online marketplaces such as Amazon. You can search for these products with specific keywords, look for the compositions of the paint, and check the reviews. Also, you can ask a craft store in your locality for paints that are non-toxic and will be suitable for hobby painting. 


Is Acrylic Paint Toxic when Dry?

Most acrylic paints are non-toxic when dry. Once the paint is dry, you have to eat it or grind it up and inhale the dust for it to be a problem.

Is Acrylic Paint Toxic when Heated?

It doesn’t produce any more dangerous fumes when the paint dries up. So it’s safe to heat dry acrylic paint. However, if you overheat them, some acrylic paint can release dangerous gases.

Is Apple Barrel acrylic paint toxic?

Apple Barrel is a non-toxic acrylic paint that is water-based and has AP certified formula. However, they should not be used for face painting but craft painting as they do not have FDA approval yet. 

Is Daler Rowney acrylic paint toxic?

Daler Rowney acrylic paints are non-toxic. All colors of these paints are not toxic and have AP labeling, safety certification for non-toxic paints. 

Is Folkart acrylic paint non-toxic?

Folkart acrylic paints are completely non-toxic. They are water-based and ideal for DIY applications. 

Is acrylic paint flammable?

No, acrylic paint is not flammable even when it contains solvent content. This is because they are water-based paints and cannot be a fire hazard. 

Is acrylic paint safe for cat paws?

Washable or finger acrylic paints meant for children are safe for printing using cat paws. However, they should be washed away immediately after the printing. 

Can long-term use of acrylic paint cause cancer?

Acrylic paints that are specified to be non-toxic will not cause cancer. However, models that may cause cancer are usually specified in the label and should be used with care and never in the long term. 

Final Words

Acrylic paints are water-based but may contain solvents. So are these poisonous? The simple answer is yes if the paint has VOCs! However, the toxicity is less from the acrylic and more from the pigments and formaldehyde that are dissolved in the paint. But that doesn’t mean all acrylic paints are toxic. Many products have little or no VOCs and are generally safe. But inhalation should be controlled and ingestion is a no-no and should be treated with urgency using the tips we provided. 

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