Friday, June 09, 2006

Art and the Most Hyper Puppy Ever

Earlier this week, Tracy posted about the toxicity of the materials artists use, and whether or not our paints are really all that much more dangerous than a lot of the substances that we eat or get exposed to every day. It’s a serious topic, and I definitely err on the side of caution now that I’m pregnant, but I just wanted to share a kind of funny story that’s related to the safety of oil paints.

I have a golden retriever named Bailey, who is a bundle of love and enthusiasm, and who was completely insane when she was a puppy. I’m not joking – she was honestly the most hyperactive puppy I have ever seen. I’d never had a dog before Bailey, so I thought maybe all dogs were completely spastic when they were small, but since then I’ve learned otherwise. The antics of my friends’ dogs pale in comparison to the stuff Bailey did when she was little and fluffy. Luckily she was cute, so we loved her anyways.

Anyhow, one of her oh-so-endearing qualities the first year we had her was the tendency to eat anything in sight. Remote control, eyeglasses, paper, plastic bags, dishrags, water bottles, insulation – you name it, she digested it at one time or another.

We have a walkout basement that serves half as my studio and half as a pen for Bailey. She has a nice fenced off area with a doggie door to the backyard, and when she was completely insane as a puppy she would sleep there at night so she couldn’t destroy the house.

One morning we went downstairs and could hear her on the stairs up from the basement. Apparently she had escaped from her pen overnight and had the run of the basement for who knows how long. As soon as I opened the door I knew she’d been in my paints – she had orange paint from one end of her to the other. Paws, mouth, and belly were the unmistakable shade of cadmium orange.

Upon further investigation, I found that my tube of cad orange was missing, and the only sign of it was the orange paint on my dog, more orange paint on the carpet, and the cap. My dog had eaten an entire tube of cadmium orange oil paint, tube and all (apparently the cap didn’t taste so good though?).

I immediately freaked out. Cadmium is toxic!! My dog was going to die of poisoning from ingesting large quantities of a heavy metal!! Being a geeky engineer, the first thing I did was pull the MSDS sheets for the paint to look at the health implications of ingesting a tube of it. I called the vet and the paint company, and both assured me that in the concentration found in oil paint, cadmium is not readily absorbed by the digestive track. Apparently, eating cadmium orange oil paint is not that bad for you – inhaling it is the big risk (i.e. if you sand your paintings). They guessed that it would go right through her without harming her.

Sure enough, 24 hours later my yard was full of dollops of bright orange paint. And I say paint because the stuff was literally the exact same consistency it has straight out of the tube. She didn’t seem affected in any way (well, except when we had to give her the longest bath ever to get the paint out of her hair – then she was a bit grumpy!).

Four years later, she’s healthy as can be – let’s hope it stays that way!!


  1. that's funny... my Bailey (great name, by the way) used to love to shred paper things... magazines, newspapers... homework... yes there was a time or two when TheDog literally ate my homework!

  2. Sound like a hyperactive eating dog indeed, strange idea to eat a tube of paint. Must have smelled good I guess.
    Interesting that the cadmium should not get into the dogs system this way.
    I am also concerned about the cadmium in the waste products like paint-left overs and the paintings itself getting into our evironment. But as I know nothing about it I try to avoid it or minimize the amounts and to keep an eye on the latest devellopments.

  3. Funny story! And what a cute dog-easy to see why you can't stay too mad at him. And the image of orange paint in the yard!

    My cats are constantly tracking through the wet gesso, leaving little paw prints all through the house and then of course, licking it off of themselves. They also walk across my paint tube and get the paint that is stuck to the sides of the tubes, on their fur.

    I had a cat once, years ago who would shred all of the magazines in the house. We had to hide them from her at least until we read them.

    Thanks for the mention.

  4. Too funny! Love the picture.
    Another Golden Retreiver owner, eh?. They are the best dogs - didn't know they were so rambunctious as puppies though.

  5. My also hyper golden just got into a tube of cadmium red oil paint. I frantically looked up the hazard sheets too and and then google "my dog ate cadmium paint" and your blog came up first. Thank you for calming me down a bit. At first I thought the dog was bleeding until I saw the half chewed tube downt the hallway. Gotta love those goldens!

  6. Thanks for posting this. My little nutbar Jedi just slurped up a daub of cad yellow I had on my palette and I'm freaking out. She seems to be fine. We just fed her a lot of rice to help it pass through her system fast and she is doing fine. Always good to be cautious and call a vet, but she seems to be ok.

  7. LOL! I have had something similar with My Buster a three year old Golden, excpeting that he ate part of my old red t-shirt that had been used as a paint rag with my plein air kit. I watched him poop one morning and thought he was dying when I went to scoop, then realizing he somehow had eaten part of my paint rag!

  8. Thanks for posting this! Our little dog just ate (and threw up on the rug) part of a cadmium-orange watercolor crayon--I was freaking. Glad to hear she probably won't die.

  9. That's a relief. My dog just woke me up by redecorating her fur and my bed in paint. Thank you, google.

  10. My 10 week old lab just escaped her kennel while I was out today, and licked all the cad yellow paint off of two forsythia paintings I painted in the last few days. He has been moping ever since - but I am relieved to know he will be okay. Thanks for posting :)

  11. Thank you for posting this. My puppy just took a mouthful of cadmium orange and I freaked out. She seems to be doing fine but I'm still glad I found your post!