Does Nail Polish Hurt Dogs?


Hello, NailDesigners! Have you heard of the latest fashion trend for dogs — nail polish? Being such an avid lover of nail polish, your next question is most likely, “Does nail polish hurt dogs?”

Let’s talk about whether nail polish is bad for your pets, if your dog is ready for a pawdicure, and the best way to apply nail polish on dogs.


Nail Polish For Dogs

If you’re reading this post, you probably want to try cute manicures on your beloved pet. We’re not judging. We know the feeling of loving our pets so much that we lavish every known doggy comfort (or discomfort) on our canine companions.

It could be a very fashionable outfit. Or some cool home appliance or gadget. Or a super comfy dog bed. The latest fashion statement appears to be… nail polish for dogs!

Dog owners want to do cute pawdicures on their dogs for different reasons. First, it’s quite a novel experience. How many dogs have you seen with manis and pedis outside of Hollywood?

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Second, it’s a fun experience. If you want a new experience with your pet apart from playing in the park or walking around the block, getting a manicure together is definitely a bonding moment.

Lastly, it’s the ultimate in fashion statements. You and your dog can get glammed up on matching outfits AND nail polish designs. It’s crazy and you’ll definitely get a lot of conversation your way from fellow dog lovers.

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Photo from

Now here are some cautionary things to remember before you grab your dog for a pedi.

  • Your dog should know you well.
  • Your dog should be comfortable with basic grooming.
  • Make sure your dog’s disposition and temperament can tolerate this activity.
  • Double check that the nail polish you’re using is okay to use on dogs.

If your dog isn’t used to doing new things with you, isn’t comfortable with getting groomed, or is temperamental, the activity is bound to result in failure. Your dog might get aggressive or frightened instead of having fun. The whole activity might end up as a traumatizing ordeal instead of a fun spa day.

And finally, don’t take our last precaution lightly. On the topic of nail polish for dogs, do you want to know our most asked question from readers?


Is Nail Polish Bad For Dogs?

Yes, nail polish is bad for dogs IF you use the same bottle of nail polish that you use on your nails. A lot of nail polishes contain toxic chemicals. Even when you think you’re protecting yourself by using non-toxic nail polishes, many bottles that are out in the market actually contain the Toxic 3 –

  • dibutyl phthalate (DBP)
  • toluene
  • formaldehyde

These chemicals pose health risks including developmental problems, asthma, and other serious illnesses. Because of this, the Toxic Trio is considered a hazardous waste in some countries and regulatory bodies. DBP, for example, has been banned in nail products in Europe. In some countries, you can’t even send nail polish by mail!

The safest to use on your pets is dog-safe nail polish approved by your vet. Always read nail polish bottle ingredients for you and your dog!


Human nail polish should not be used on dogs

The nail polish we use shouldn’t be used on our pets. Dogs may lick, chew, or bite their nails from time to time. Human nail polishes typically contain strong chemicals which can be tolerable to humans but not for pets that might ingest them into their bodies (or the poor nail technicians who breathe in harsh dust and chemicals from nail products while sitting at their nail table).

Your “non-toxic” nail polish might be toxic

Now, you might find this next interesting. Researchers from the California Department of Toxic Substances acquired 25 nail products from different salons in the state and had them tested for the Toxic 3.

This testing is important because the Toxic 3, while banned in some countries, are still allowed in the US so long as they are properly labeled as an ingredient in nail polish.

Sadly and unsurprisingly, many of the tested samples were labeled toxin-free but they actually contained at least one of the three toxic chemicals. It’s quite worrying when a bottle of product proudly boasting itself as toulene-free ACTUALLY contains toulene.

Key takeaway: Stick to pet safe nail polish approved by your veterinarian.

So if you’re asking us, “Does nail polish hurt dogs” The answer is that there are pet-safe nail polishes that we can buy so that you don’t have to give up on your dream of matching manicures with your pet.


How To Put Nail Polish On Your Dog’s Nails

If it’s your first time in applying nail polish on your dog’s nails, expect some starts and stops. You might not be successful the first time but don’t be afraid to try again if your pet doesn’t mind the activity.

Here’s how to put nail polish on your pet’s nails:

  1. Prep your pet. We’ve mentioned this before but make sure your pet is used to being groomed and knows basic commands like “sit”. Lastly, make sure your pet is calm.
  2. Lay an old towel or blanket on a free space. Avoid rooms with carpets or upholstered furniture just in case.
  3. Trim your pet’s nails to the right length and give them a cleaning.
  4. Also cut excess hair from your dog’s nails.
  5. Start out with a basic design if it’s your first time. You can go for fancier nail art once you and your pet are more used to the activity. For more fancier designs, use nail polish pens like the one we’ve listed above.
  6. Apply gentle pressure on the top and bottom of your pet’s paws. For the front paws, ask your dog to give you his paws (like a handshake). For the back legs, you can ask somebody to hold your dog or have your pet stand up.
  7. Keep your tone soothing and calm. Avoid signalling anything that pertains to play time.
  8. Apply a second coating of nail polish if needed. If your pet becomes restless, take a short break.
  9. Give treats to distract or reward your dog for good behavior.
  10. Choose nail polish with quick drying times. Some nail polishes will ask you to use a blow drier. Do this if your pet is not afraid of the whirring sound.


Check out this how-to video on how to clip and file your dog’s nails and how to apply nail polish.