Can I use human toothpaste for my dog's teeth?
Dental Guide for Canine Chompers
Is it safe to brush your dog's teeth with human toothpaste?
The short answer is NO! When brushing your dog's teeth, is it NOT SAFE to use human toothpaste. Never use human toothpaste to brush your dog's teeth because it most likely contains one highly toxic ingredient, if not more. The first common offender is the artificial sweetener xylitol, which toothpaste manufacturers add for taste as a low calorie sugar alternative. Xylitol is 10 times more toxic to dogs than chocolate, and it is a common ingredient in toothpastes, mints, gums, and a laundry list of other products. The Preventative Vet maintains a helpful list of more than 700 products containing this disastrous ingredient for dogs, and some of them, like Neutrogena hand cream, may take you by surprise!
Xylitol in human toothpaste is deadly for dogs
Because it is potentially deadly even in small amounts, you should contact a veterinary professional for help immediately if you have used a product containing xylitol as dog toothpaste or if you suspect that your dog has eaten even a small amount of xylitol. Your dog's pancreas confuses this sweetener for actual sugar and attempts to release enough insulin to store it, resulting in low blood sugar, liver failure, seizures or even death in dogs. Symptoms will likely occur within 30 minutes of ingestion and can include:
The second of our dog toxic toothpaste ingredients is fluoride. Although fluoride is a popular ingredient in human toothpastes, we have to remember that we rinse with water and spit as part of brushing our teeth, whereas our dogs will be swallowing most, if not all toothpaste used while having their teeth brushed. Dog toothpaste should not include added fluoride as an ingredient. Fluoride overdose in dogs can cause vomiting and kidney problems in more serious cases. Basically, to help your pup stay healthy and their dog teeth looking their best, do never use human toothpaste or any dog toothpaste where they add fluoride or xylitol. Make sure to keep any products containing these canine culprits far away from your pup.
What should I use for pet toothpaste?
Now that you have stored the Crest and Colgate out of reach, you may be wondering what you should use when caring for your dog's teeth. Don’t worry -- you have plenty of choices to top their toothbrush:
- Specialty canine pet toothpaste is available to buy in an array of mouth watering flavors from peanut butter to poultry. Don’t judge; these flavors were designed for your pup’s taste palette! You can find these at pet stores and online retailers.
- Doggie dental wipes can be used every day to wipe away plaque and tartar buildup. Wipe thoroughly and wipe often!
- Oral care gel products are a good choice for dogs who make toothbrush time feel like a wrestling match. Although the reviews are mixed, these gels claim to clean your puppy’s teeth and gums upon application. No dog toothbrush required!
- Coconut oil has powerful antibacterial properties and can help prevent tooth decay. It contains lauric acid, a potent fighter of bacteria like Streptococcus mutans (the leading cause of tooth decay). Coconut oil reduces plaque buildup and gum swelling quickly and naturally.
- Homemade dog toothpaste is another fresh and wallet friendly choice. These recipes typically use a combination of some of the following natural ingredients: baking soda, mint leaves, poultry malt (or beef), parsley, and other pantry items. Rover has a helpful blog post that includes 3 recipes for homemade dog toothpaste ranging from basic baking soda to a spicy cinnamon concoction.
Routines for Good Dog Oral Health
There is a common myth that dogs can take care of their own teeth simply by chewing on their food, bones, and toys. This is absolutely not true. Just like humans, dogs need daily tooth brushing as well as annual professional cleanings to prevent disease and keep their mouths clean and in the best shape possible.
- Is doggy dentistry new to you? Schedule a veterinary exam to plan out a routine and rule out existing dental problems. Have your vet make sure that your dog doesn’t have gingivitis, which can make the most gentle tooth brushing feel too painful.
- If you have never brushed your dog’s teeth before, start by getting them acclimated to the idea. Massage the lips in a circle for 30-60 seconds a day for a week before moving on to brush their teeth and gums.
- A clean piece of gauze worn over your finger works as a dog toothbrush. You can also purchase dog toothbrushes that fit over your finger as well as dog toothbrushes designed to look more like human toothbrushes.
- Feeding your dog a high quality diet can also help with maintaining beautiful teeth and good gum-lines. Choose a dog food rich with meats and vegetables rather than excess grains, by-products, or meals. There are also several specialty dog foods available by prescription that specifically target dental care.
- Feed your dog a daily dental chew treat; these can also help fight against bad breath.
- Brush your dog's teeth once a day, or at the very least 2-3 times per week. This is the #1 best way to promote good dental health and keep breath fresh.
- Offer your dog raw bones and/or high quality chew toys (nylon or hard rubber) often. Chewing also provides your dog some much needed stress-release and mental stimulation.
- Once a week, get up close and personal to lift your dog’s lips and look closely at their gums. Healthy gums should be pink and show no signs of inflammation.
- Your dog should have his teeth professionally at least once a year.
Why do I need to brush my dogs’ teeth?
Caring for your dog's teeth and gums is crucial for their overall well-being and longevity. Did you know that 75% of dogs over the age of three show signs of dental disease? Poor dental hygiene does not only cause bad breath and tooth loss, but infections that start with a single tooth can spread to your dog’s vital organs. Excess plaque and tartar also cause gingivitis and gum diseases in dogs like humans. Committing to the regular care of your dog’s oral health can add years to your dog's life.
When should my dog see a professional?
Dental cleaning at the veterinarian office can be costly and require that your dog be sedated. Keeping up with regular brushing and maintenance of your dog s teeth can potentially help reduce some of these expenses and keep your dog s mouth in tip-top shape. Professional oral exams and teeth cleaning should be done at the vets roughly once a year to identify any potential issues before they escalate and give your dog the best care options. Bad breath can be a warning sign for more serious health issues in your dog. If their breath is significantly worse than usual, get your dog in to see the vet!
…once again, that's a big NO on using human toothpaste for dogs!
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TLDR: Never use human toothpaste to brush your dog's teeth because it contains ingredients that can be deadly for your pet. Dogs need their teeth frequently and thoroughly brushed just like we do. Dog toothpaste aka toothpaste can be purchased online, picked up from a pet store, or even DIY homemade dog toothpaste from natural ingredients in your pantry. Have some baking soda? You're good to go. Have baking soda AND any of these additional ingredients? Mint leaves, parsley, beef stock -- you are ready to dazzle your doggie's taste buds. Establishing a regular dental care routine for your pup is one of the best things you can do to promote their well-being and to create a meaningful bonding ritual.Sources: