The phrase “toothpaste for dogs” sounds like the punchline to a joke – the epitome of a ridiculous product that’s not necessary but is being marketed by an avaricious industry looking to profit by foisting useless gear on unsuspecting dog owners. I’m sure that some comedian somewhere could get a good five minutes of laughs out of the topic.
The truth is, though, that toothpastes that are formulated for pets are helpful. They improve the mechanical effect of the toothbrush, their abrasive ingredients improve the plaque-removing effect of brushing, and their enzymatic ingredients help reduce the population of bacteria present in a dog’s mouth.
Why is this so important? To prevent a cascade of ill effects for your dog. Bacterial overgrowth, also referred to as “biofilm,” causes infection and inflammation when it accumulates below the gum line. Biofilm becomes plaque; plaque promotes the formation of tartar, and both substances give the bacteria more surfaces to cling to and opportunity to proliferate under the gums. And bacteria can not only contribute to bad breath, but also contribute to periodontal disease, which has been linked to severe deleterious effects throughout the body, including the liver, kidney, heart, and lungs. Studies have established a link between canine dental disease and diabetes, “distant neoplasia” (gastrointestinal, kidney, pancreatic, and hematological cancers), chronic inflammation, and early mortality.
What is Toothpaste?
Toothpaste is a commercially prepared product that can keep your teeth clean and breath fresh. It’s usually applied to a toothbrush and used to brush the teeth.
Toothpaste generally contains the following ingredients:
Abrasives: that work to clean debris and plaque from teeth and gums. These also work to polish the teeth.
Fluoride: is an ingredient that’s used to prevent cavities.
Surfactants: many types of commercially prepared toothpaste also contain sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) or other types of surfactants. These create the foam that comes when brushing your teeth with toothpaste.
Flavorings: toothpaste may also include different flavorings such as peppermint, spearmint, and wintergreen. These make the toothpaste taste better and can freshen the breath.
Xylitol: is an artificial sweetener that’s found in many types of toothpaste. It’s included to make the product taste better.
Other ingredients: can include baking soda and more.
Can human toothpaste make a dog sick if he licks it?
Toothpaste & Dogs
Dogs that have licked human toothpaste may become sick. This is because of the ingredients found in the toothpaste. For one thing, xylitol is known to be very toxic to dogs. Even licking a dime-sized amount of toothpaste is enough xylitol to poison a dog.
Fluoride can also cause stomach issues, urinary tract problems, and even seizures and heart issues. Baking soda is also very dangerous for dogs because it’s very acidic. This can cause digestive tract issues, or even seizures, muscle spasms, and more.
How to treat a dog poisoned by toothpaste
Feeling shaky and panicky? Yeah, we get it. The thing is, there’s no sugar-coating this kind of thing: a dog can be easily poisoned by toothpaste and it is almost always very serious, if not fatal. If you’ve discovered that he’s helped himself to your toothpaste, here are the steps to take.
Grab the nearest piece of fabric and wipe down his nose, snout, paws, mouth, tongue, anything and everything that has the smallest amount of toothpaste on it. Get it wet and repeat it as much as you can. Be very thorough and make sure your dog listens to you to stay still, drop it, etc.
Immediately call your vet and let them know that he’s eaten toothpaste. They’ll often expect you to give information on how much toothpaste he’s eaten, what symptoms he’s showing, and what kind of toothpaste it was (ie: sugar-free, kid’s toothpaste, toothpaste with charcoal, etc).
How much toothpaste is toxic to a dog?
Will toothpaste hurt dogs?