Can I Paint My Dog's Toenails?

Your pup is so cute. You love it when she comes back from the groomer, and her hair looks freshly combed and has little bows in it. The collar you got her is fully blinged out, and you've even dyed her hair a few times. You want your dog to look and feel as good as possible – whatever makes her happy makes you happy.

Shiba Inu dog an appointment at the beautician
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A few times, you've thought about making your pup even cuter by painting her toenails. You'd love to match her nails to yours and make her stand out in the dog park. The only thing is, you don't know if it's safe to paint your dog's toenails, and you don't want to do anything that will be toxic or harmful to your pup. Is it really unsafe to paint your dog's toenails, or is it perfectly OK?

Painting your dog’s toenails

Generally, it is fine to paint your dog's toenails, as long as your dog is fine with it. You can even go to special dog groomers who will paint your dog's toenails for an extra fee. Before trying it on your own, you may want to take them to these groomers, who are more experienced and will know exactly how to make your dog feel comfortable and what steps to take when painting the nails.

Precautions and considerations when painting your dog’s toenails

It is not recommended to use human nail polish on your dog's nails. Human nail polish contains harmful ingredients that are shown to be unsafe for people as well. There's a reason why nail technicians often cover their faces when painting nails.

Instead, you can buy a dog nail polish, which is going to be a little more expensive but won't contain those harmful ingredients. It is also odor-free, so it won't irritate you or your pup. If your dog has dark nails, you may want to buy a white dog nail polish as the base coat and then put the color you want on top of it. Some dog nail polish come in the form of pens, which makes it way easier for you to apply the polish.

Dog foot on the floor
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Prior to painting your dog's nails, you need to make sure that you trim the fur around the nails, you dog doesn't have any open wounds and your dog is not going to lick the nail polish before it dries. After you've painted her toenails, just hold her for a few minutes to ensure the nails are completely dry. Wash your dog's paws after the painting is done to ensure there isn't any nail polish in her fur. If your dog happens to lick the polish after it's already dry, that's not a big deal.

If your dog is squirmy when getting her nails trimmed, she will likely not do well when you attempt to paint her nails. Only paint her nails if she is in a comfortable spot and doesn't get upset when you start the process.

Once you are ready to take off the nail polish, do not use acetone, which can be harmful. You should opt for puppy paint nail polish remover, which won't contain those harmful ingredients.

Asking a vet before taking action

As always, you should consult with your vet – or at least a specialty dog groomer – before you paint your dog's toenails. Though it may look cute and pretty, your dog's health and safety comes first. Ask your vet or specialty dog groomer for recommendations for dog nail polish and how to ensure that you apply it and take it off safely.