Can I Paint My Bearded Dragon’s Nails?

If you have seen a photo online of a bearded dragon with its nails painted, you have been inspired to paint your own bearded dragon’s nails. Perhaps you want your pet and yourself to have matching manicures, or maybe you just want to pretty your bearded dragon up a bit. But you may also be wondering if it is actually safe to do so. 

Can I paint my bearded dragon’s nails? It is safe to paint your bearded dragon’s nails. Bearded dragon’s nails are made of the same material that humans’ are, so painting your them is just as safe as painting your own.

Even though you shouldn’t feel the need to paint your bearded dragon’s nails, doing so can be a fun activity to make your pet look a little prettier. Of course, as a responsible pet owner you do not want to take any actions that could harm your beloved pet. Keep reading to find out what you can do to paint your pet bearded dragon’s nails without compromising its safety.

Similarities Between Reptile Nails and Human Nails

Reptile nails, including those of bearded dragons, are made up of keratins, which are tough and durable proteins that make up specialized tissues. Human nails are also made of keratin (fun fact: so are reptile scales!).1 This means that as long as it’s safe to paint your own nails, it is also safe to paint your bearded dragon’s nail without damaging the nail itself. 

Luckily, dermatologists generally regard using nail polish to be safe for nails. If using traditional nail polish, the only drawback according to Harvard Health Blog is that it could cause temporary discoloration of the nails.2 The key word here is temporary, so it is not something you should worry too much about, as it should go away over time. 

Harvard Health Blog also notes that traditional nail polish is easy to remove, so if you end up painting your bearded dragon’s nails a bright gaudy orange and immediately regret it, you don’t have to worry about being stuck with it.

If (and when) you change your mind, you can easily remove it and go for something a little more subdued — perhaps a nice powder blue. Even though nail polish is generally regarded as safe for nails, there are certain precautions that you should take to ensure the safety of your bearded dragon.

Using a Non Toxic Nail Polish

If you want to paint your bearded dragon’s nails but want to be extra careful, consider using non toxic nail polish. Nail polishes meant for children are commonly marketed as non toxic. Non toxic nail polish typically lacks the following ingredients that are typically found in conventional polishes: formaldehyde, toluene, dibutyl phthalate, formaldehyde resin, and camphor.2

While Harvard Health Blog notes that there is no strong evidence to conclude that these ingredients are harmful to your or your bearded dragon’s nail health, non toxic polishes are likely to be safer if your pet licks the polish, which is something that may be hard to prevent it from doing. 

Non toxic polish is also just as easy to remove as conventional nail polish, so you can still feel free to try out that bright orange color and don’t have to worry about regretting it (which you probably will, let’s be honest.)

That said, if you are considering painting your bearded dragon’s nails but want to be sure about its safety, you should check that the nail polish you are using is non toxic polish, which has the same benefits as using traditional polish but lacks certain ingredients that may be harmful to your pet. To be even more safe, you can consider using a nail polish specifically meant for animals.

Using a Nail Polish Meant for Animals

Bearded dragons are not the only pets that people want to paint the nails of. Some pet owners paint the nails of their dogs or cats or other mammalian pets, and there are some nail polishes that are specifically made for animals.

Like children’s nail polish, nail polish meant for animals tends to be non toxic, so if you’re worried about your bearded dragon accidentally ingesting the nail polish instead of wearing it, this might be a good solution.

Additionally, many of these nail polishes made for animals also have quick drying times.3 While this does not necessarily make the nail polish any more or less safe, it means that you don’t have to worry about your bearded dragon messing up its nails after you carefully paint them. While they may have been made with dogs in mind, they are also safe to use on your bearded dragon.

Additional Precautions

Besides using a non toxic nail polish, there are a couple of additional precautions that you can take in order to ensure that your bearded dragon and its nails are as healthy as can be. Harvard Health Blog recommends that people who paint their nails should take breaks from nail polish every once in a while to keep their nails healthy.2

Because human nails and reptile nails are made of the same materials, consider this advice for your bearded dragon too. After the polish chips off or you remove it, consider waiting a while before painting their nails again in order to keep its nails strong and healthy.

Speaking of removing nail polish,typical nail polish remover contains acetone, which can be harsh and damaging to nails if used too often or for too long.2 For the same reasons that you may want to consider using non toxic nail polish, you should also consider using non toxic and acetone free nail polish remover, if available.4

If you must use an acetone based nail polish remover, try to limit contact with the nail as much as possible, as this may help keep the nail healthier and stronger.2 One reason why the easy removal of traditional and non toxic nail polishes is so great is that it limits the amount of contact you need to make with the nail in order to remove it. 

Or, Leave Your Bearded Dragon’s Nails All Natural

While painting your bearded dragon’s nails is safe for the pet as long as you are careful about the kind of nail polish and nail polish remover that you use, you should not feel as though you need to paint your bearded dragon’s nails just because you saw someone else on the internet do so.

If you are a bearded dragon owner you are probably already aware of this, but bearded dragons are already beautiful animals, and they do not need nail polish to look nice. 

Even if it is safe to paint your bearded dragon’s nails and they look pretty when you do, you may want to appreciate their natural beauty by leaving their nails unpainted. It is completely up to you, though. I won’t judge you either way.

Conclusion

If you have been wanting to paint your bearded dragon’s nails but were worried it would have negative effects on their health, hopefully now you feel a bit better about doing so. It is a fun way to pretty up your bearded dragon, and there are certain steps that you can take to keep it safe.

Reptile nails and human nails are both made of keratin, so when painting your bearded dragon’s nails you want to take the same precautions that you would when you paint your own, and maybe a little more in case your pet accidentally licks the nail polish. 

In order to keep your pet bearded dragon safe, be sure to use a non toxic nail polish, such as one meant for children or even one made specifically for animals, limit contact with your pet’s nails when using nail polish remover or use an acetone free nail polish remover if possible, and take breaks in between painting your bearded dragon’s nails to keep them strong. 

If you follow these precautions, you can rest easy knowing that your bearded dragon is perfectly safe with its gorgeously manicured nails.

 

Sources:

1 https://www.thoughtco.com/keratin-definition-and-purpose-608202

2 https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/a-look-at-the-effects-of-nail-polish-on-nail-health-and-safety-2019112118231

3 https://dogs.lovetoknow.com/wiki/Dog_Nail_Polish 

4 https://nymag.com/strategist/article/best-non-acetone-nail-polish-removers.html