As pet owners, the safety of our pets is often our primary concern. We would never give our pets food that might make them sick or a toy that could hurt them. While we all know that chocolate can be poisonous to our pets, not many people know about the harmful effects paints and other domestic decorating products can have on our beloved pets.
The Danger of Paints
Many of us would think that repainting our homes is a pretty harmless thing to do, but some domestic paints can be very dangerous to both ourselves and our pets. Traditional domestic paints are made using a cocktail of chemicals which includes heavy metals, solvents and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC'S). These chemicals emit toxic gases in a process called "off gassing", which can cause harm to our pets when they are inhaled. While the full extent of the injuries caused by these products is unknown, symptoms can include irritation to skin, eyes, airways, and, in extreme cases, full body hair loss. Paints aren't the only offenders- other domestic decorating products such as varnishes, paint removers and white spirits can be equally dangerous.
While opening windows and doors will allow some of these gases to escape, fumes can still be emitted long after the paint has dried. It is also important to remember pets could also become ill if they inadvertently consume any of these products and that, in some cases, this could be worse than inhaling the fumes.
Pet Safe Alternatives
There are pet safe paints and decorating products which contain fewer harmful chemicals or that are free of these chemicals altogether, making them ideal for use around pets. Some products might not be branded as being pet safe even though they are and you will be able to identify these products by reviewing the ingredients that they contain. Generally speaking you will want to use a product that is water based rather than solvent based, that is free from heavy metals and creosote, and that has either low or no VOC's. We recommend always doing your research before buying anything. Some products like Earthborn Paints are not sold as being pet friendly, but have been used by many pet owners without any harm coming to their pets.
If You Can't Do Anything
Sometimes it won't be possible to decorate without these products being present and if this is the case you should take some extra measures to minimize any harm that could affect your pets.
- Ensure all products are out of the reach of your pets, as they may try to eat them and become ill.
- If possible, ask a family member or friend to look after your pets for the day. Fumes are at their strongest while paints are wet/drying and this will help limit their exposure to these fumes. If this is not possible, keep pets out of the way for as long as possible.
- Keep the room or rooms being painted well-ventilated to help remove as many gases as possible.
- If you are painting small pieces of furniture like a table or chair, try painting them outside. This way fumes will be able to go straight into the air and won't get trapped inside the house.
- Keep an eye on your pets and if they start behaving differently, if they become ill, or if you notice any of the symptoms mentioned above, contact your vet immediately.
- If you are unsure if a product is pet safe or not, contact the manufacturers or the supplier who will be able to give you the best advice.
We hope that this guide provides a useful tool for you to keep your pet safe while you improve your home.