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D2004-08

Dear Daisy Dog

My son and his friends play paintball on our large property. We keep the dogs indoors while the game is on, of course, but I’m concerned that they will chew the unexploded paint balls when they go outside after a game. Are paintballs toxic?

Daisy Responds

Yes, according to veterinarians at the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center, but generally only if the “dose” of paintballs is high.

I am a picky eater of even the best dog food, so I would never consider eating a bubble of paint. But Sam, my golden retriever brother, will pick up anything that’s round, and if your dogs are the same, that could mean trouble.

Most brands of paintballs contain chemicals that, when swallowed, travel through the intestines and are excreted in the next bowel movement – which, as you can imagine, becomes quite colorful.

While the chemicals are not absorbed into the blood, they can still be dangerous, even when the label on the box says the paintballs are nontoxic.

That’s because paintballs contain polyethylene glycol, dipropylene glycol, glycerol, sorbitol and/or mineral oil, depending on the brand.

These chemicals draw water from the body into the intestines, causing potentially severe dehydration and electrolyte imbalances.

These changes result in neurological problems, including loss of coordination, seizures and sometimes death.

The toxic dose of paintballs is unknown for certain, but appears to be about two balls per pound of the dog’s body weight.

Of course, toxic effects depend on the dog’s health, so any paintball ingestion is cause for concern. Be sure the kids pick up and dispose of all leftover paintballs.

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