household items

Alternate names

Paint balls, glycerol, glycerin, polyethylene glycol, PEG, sorbitol, salt, hypernatremia

Toxicity to pets

Paintballs, when ingested, can result in severe poisoning in dogs, and rarely cats and ferrets. While this is an uncommon toxicity, it can be life-threatening. The components inside a paintball are “osmotically active,” which means that they can pull free water into the intestinal tract. This can result in severe salt and electrolyte imbalances; untreated, this can be fatal. Some of the active ingredients within paintballs include: glycerol, propylene glycol, polyethylene glycol (PEG), wax, dye, gelatin, etc. Clinical signs of poisoning include vomiting, diarrhea, walking drunk, tremors, seizures, and decreased level of consciousness.

Paintballs can cause a false positive blood test for the more life-threatening poison, antifreeze (ethylene glycol). Make sure your veterinarian is aware of this.

If you suspect your dog ate paintballs, call your veterinarian or Pet Poison Helpline® immediately for life-saving advice.

Common signs to watch for:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Walking drunk
  • Tremors
  • Seizures
  • Decreased level of consciousness

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The content of this page is not veterinary advice. A number of factors (amount of substance ingested, size of the animal, allergies, etc.) determine what is toxic to a particular pet. If you think your pet has eaten something potentially toxic, call Pet Poison Helpline or seek immediate veterinary treatment.