Are Paintballs Toxic To Dogs? 5 Facts You Should Know

Playing paintball is a very fun and entertaining activity. But are paintballs toxic to dogs? What will happen if your pets get exposed to these substances?

Pet owners should think twice before participating in a paintball game. This post will discuss the effects of paintball ingestion in dogs and provide you with some helpful tips to deal with pet poisoning.

Based on the information provided, you can learn to protect your dogs from harmful chemicals and avoid toxicosis. Continue reading, and I will show you.

Are Paintballs Toxic To Dogs? 5 Facts You Should Know

Are Paintballs Toxic To Dogs? 

If your dog ingests the paintballs, it could suffer from severe intoxication and poisoning due to the harmful chemicals contained in the paintballs.

While the risk is low, paintball toxicosis is very dangerous to dogs and can even be fatal in severe cases.

When participating in a paintball game, the players will shoot the paintballs at the opponents using the air guns. If the capsules touch a surface, they will break and leave a paintball mark on that spot.

A survey conducted by the APPC (Animal Poison Control Center) indicated that there were up to 44 cases of paintball intoxication in dogs with severe consequences in five years.

Although the risk is low, it is evident that your dogs could get poisoned by the paintball capsules. To understand the reason behind paintball toxicosis, we first need to understand the capsule’s components.

Are Paintballs Toxic To Dogs? 
The paintballs

The Ingredients For Making Paintball

A box of paintballs can contain up to 1000 capsules of various colors. The capsules’ ingredients on different products from many manufacturers.

Common chemicals used for paintball production are glycerol (glycerin), sorbitol, gelatin, di propylene glycol, and polyethylene glycol. These chemicals are mixed with mineral oil, pig skin, and water to make the capsules.

How Many Capsules Can Cause Intoxication? 

Although the majority of those chemicals are non-toxic to human health, they can be harmful to dogs when combined together. It is still fine if your dog ingests a small quantity of these combinations.

Yet, ingesting a large number of capsule ingredients can lead to intoxication. In some reported cases, the dogs have digested hundreds of capsules.

Many dogs began to show clinical symptoms after ingesting around 15 capsules.

The severity of the symptoms is correlated with the number of chemicals the dogs absorbed.

Common signs Of Paintball Poisoning 

Here are some popular symptoms of paintball poisoning reported in dogs. If your dog develops one of these signs after ingesting the paintballs, take it to the veterinarian immediately.

Clinical Signs

The most popular symptom reported by the APCC is vomiting (about 70% of the cases). The dogs may vomit painfully or without showing any pain at all.

Following are ataxia symptoms (nearly half of the cases reported), diarrhea (2 in 10 cases), and tremors. The dogs may develop these visible symptoms within one hour after digesting the paintball capsules.

Are Paintballs Toxic To Dogs? 5 Facts You Should Know 2
Your Dog May Get Tired Or Blinded In The Short Term

Abnormal Signs

There are also some less noticeable signs such as hyperthermia, reduced physical action, hyperactivity, or blindness. If your dog starts to behave differently from its normal state, it is also a clear sign of paintball toxicosis.

Although the symptoms can get very severe and cause tremendous harm to the dogs, there were no cases of death reported. However, they could suffer from coma and serious sequelae.

The Causes Of Paintball Poisoning In Dogs 

Unfortunately, it is still unclear under what exact mechanisms the paintballs can cause intoxication when the dogs ingest them. There are some theories and possible explanations surrounding these mechanisms.


When the dogs digest the paintball’s substance, the chemicals and water will alternate their body’s water balance. Some chemicals like glycerol and sorbitol can act as an osmotic laxative.

They can affect the water concentration in the body to the lower bowel and cause diarrhea or hypernatremia. In addition, the water concentration in the brain cells of dogs can also be reduced.

As a result, the dog’s brain quickly decreases in volume and suffers from rupture or swell tissues, causing hemorrhage. The changes can severely impact the biological operation of the body and develop abnormal signs recorded.

Further research needs to be conducted to further understand the mechanisms for paintball poisoning in dogs. We still couldn’t decide on an exact lethal dose of capsules.

The Main Reasons Dog Ingest The Paintball Substances

The paintball capsules are not dog-proof and can be left open when they launch from the air gun. Dogs are usually attracted to strange objects, so the colorful paintball shells can easily draw their attention.

When a dog chews or bites the capsule, the substances and chemicals inside can get inside its stomach and can cause intoxication. In addition, the dogs may eat everything they find digestible.

Dogs only have two color receptors in the retina; they can only see the yellow and blue colors. This limited color perception makes it harder for them to spot the colors of paintball capsules.

As a result, they will mistake the chemicals for the regular water and drink them.

Are Paintballs Toxic To Dogs? 5 Facts You Should Know 3
Dogs Can Only See Yellow And Blue Colors

Diagnosis Of Paintball Poisoning In Dogs

Vomiting is the most common and recognizable sign when your dog develops the clinical symptoms of paintball poisoning. Pay attention to the colors of the vomit to see if it comes in various colors and a lot of liquid.

Remember that the symptoms may be mild and subtle at first, but they will get significantly more severe within one hour. Watch your dog closely during this period to check if it acts abnormally.

Even if the dog shows no symptoms, it is best to take it to the veterinarian for a thorough check. Some poisoning symptoms are very subtle and can cause severe consequences if not spotted in time.

Treatment For Paintball Poisoning 

If your dog has shown the paintball toxicosis symptoms, take it to a safe place and prevent it from chewing the remaining paintballs. Don’t wait for the severe symptoms to develop; take it to the nearest veterinarian quickly.

Let your dog vomit all the toxins out if it has ingested a large amount of paintball substance. If the animal gets aggressive and shows signs of hypertension, try to soothe it down and stabilize the dog first.

What if the veterinarian is not available at the moment? The best thing you can do is stabilize the dog mentally and supply it with warm water.

For the majority of cases, the paintball toxicosis symptoms will reduce within one day, and the animal will slowly recover.

Are Paintballs Toxic To Dogs? 5 Facts You Should Know 4
Let The Veterinarian Take Care Of Your Dog

Recovery Of Paintball Poisoning

The dog will automatically recover to its initial state after 24 hours. However, you should take it to the veterinarian to conduct a thorough check.

Ensure that all of its biological operations and organs are fine to prevent potential sequelae in the future. For severe cases like seizures and brain shirking, it may take up to 48 hours for a complete recovery.

If the patient has taken a large amount of paintball substance, observe it for at least four hours for possible clinical signs.

For more in-depth instructions, consider watching the video below.


Final Thoughts

Paintball ingestion, even in small quantities, can be poisonous to your dogs. It can cause severe clinical symptoms and paint for your beloved pet, so don’t let your dog get exposed to the paintball capsules. 

If your dog gets poisoned by the paintballs, immediately call the pet poisoning helpline or take it to the nearest veterinarian. You should choose the dog-proof paintball capsules when playing at the playgrounds in the presence of animals.

I hope the information provided in this post can satisfy you.

Thank you for reading!

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