Wouldn’t your dog look cute with purple or green nails? Although it might sound strange, some people love the idea of giving their dog a mani/pedi, complete with colorful nails or nail art. Here’s the thing, though. The same nail polish you might use on your fingernails isn’t safe for your pet. Human nail polish often contains ingredients that are very toxic to dogs. The best dog safe nail polishes are free of harmful ingredients and are designed especially for pets.
Should You Paint Your Dog’s Nails?
Dog nail polish isn’t for every pup. If your pet protests every time you try to clip his nails, it’s probably going to be more trouble than it’s worth to give all of his claws a coat of paint.
But some dogs don’t mind getting pampered and groomed. If your dog can sit calmly and will let you hold his paw for any length of time, he might be a good candidate for a doggie mani/pedi. There are a few things to keep in mind before you paint your dog’s nails.
One is the condition of the nails. If your dog has cracked or brittle nails, painting them can cause more harm than good, according to Dog Fashion. The polish can seep into the nail bed if the nails are cracked or weak, causing irritation and pain.
It’s also a good idea to check out the condition of your dog’s paws before you paint his nails. If your pet has any sores or wounds on his paws, Dogsaholic recommends not polishing the nails. Let the wounds heal, and more importantly, find out the cause of the injuries.
How Do You Paint Your Dog’s Nails?
Painting your dog’s nails isn’t quite the same as giving yourself a manicure. You can’t just apply a few quick swipes of the polish and call it a day.
Before you paint the nails, you need to prepare them. That can mean trimming any extra fur or hair away from the nail areas, which can be challenging. You’ll then want to trim the nails and file them with a nail file designed for use on dogs’ claws.
Once you’ve filed the nails and trimmed the area, you can wipe the nails and paws to remove any dirt and debris. Nail polish is going to be less likely to peel and chip if the nails are clean.
Paint the nails one foot at a time. Swipe the nail polish brush over each claw, coating it with color. Let the claws on the each foot dry thoroughly before you start painting the next paw. You don’t want your dog to chew on his nails while the polish is still wet.
Your dog might need some convincing to make the nail painting process go a bit more smoothly. Have plenty of treats at the ready, and give your dog one after you paint each nail. Also, make sure to speak to your dog gently throughout the process.
How is Dog Safe Nail Polish Different From Human Nail Polish?
The big difference between dog safe nail polish and nail polish designed for use by people is the ingredients. Human nail polish often contains toxic chemicals, according to WebMD. Those chemicals can include formaldehyde, dibutyl phthalate, and toluene. Even people polishes that claim not to contain those three ingredients often do.
A 2015 study from Duke University and the Environmental Working Group found that many brands of human nail polish contained triphenyl phosphate, or TPHP, which is an endocrine disruptor, meaning it can mess up your hormones. Worse, many women who had painted their nails with polishes containing the ingredient had a metabolite of it in their bodies just hours after applying the polish.
In contrast to human nail polish, dog nail polish doesn’t contain those harmful ingredients. Another big difference between human and dog nail polish is the odor. Often, nail polish designed for people has a distinct, unpleasant smell. You always know when someone’s recently painted their nails and the scent of a nail salon is unmistakable. Dog nail polish, on the other hand, is usually odor-free.
What to Look for in Dog Safe Nail Polish
Along with making sure that the nail polish is non-toxic, low odor and water-based, the most important thing to look for is one that dries quickly. If you’ve ever painted your nails, you know that waiting for the polish to dry can be agony. Now imagine you’re a dog and your nails are coated in something wet and sticky.
The color of the polish is another thing to consider. Many dog safe nail polish brands come in a range of colors. The natural color of your pet’s nails will determine which options are best for you.
If your dog has black or dark nails naturally, you might need to buy a white polish and use that as a base coat. Otherwise, the polish might not show up on the claws.
Reviews of the Best Dog Safe Nail Polishes
Warren London Pawdicure Polish Pen
The Warren London Pawdicure Polish Pen makes quick work of giving your dog a mani/pedi. The pen makes it easier to apply the nail polish. Using it is like coloring your dog’s claws with a marker. Once applied, the polish takes all of 40 seconds to dry.
- Comes in 13 colors
- Contains no toxic ingredients
- Quick dry
- Pen design is easy to use
- You might need several coats to get good coverage on your dog’s nails
- Colors won’t show up on dark nails without a base coat
Pet Head Mommy and Me Pet Nail Polish
Pet Head Mommy and Me Pet Nail Polish is thick and fast drying. You might need just a single coat get the coverage you want, depending on the color of your dog’s nails. The brand makes multiple nail polish colors, but the fuschia hue seems to be the most popular of the bunch.
- Quick drying
- Vibrant color
- Safe for people and dogs
- Only one coat needed for most dogs
- Claims to dry in 10 seconds, but actual dry time is closer to a minute
- Not odor-free
With its ease of use, a rainbow of colors, and super fast dry time, the Warren London Pawdicure Polish Pen seems to be the best dog safe nail polish out there. You don’t have to be a professional dog groomer to paint and style your dog’s nails with these pens. Of course, the drawback is that you might need to apply several coats of polish to your dog’s nails to get the look you want.
Despite that, the quick drying time and the fact that it has no toxic ingredients and no odor makes the nail polish pen a top pick.