What are the dangers of letting my dog swallow human toothpaste?
Some people are tempted to brush their dog’s teeth with human toothpaste in an effort to get rid of “doggy breath.” Some others have dogs that will get into anything, and that includes eating entire tubes of toothpaste. Dogs should never have it, and these are the specific reasons why:
First, human toothpaste contains fluoride, and that substance is toxic to dogs. An overdose of fluoride result in symptoms such as restlessness, stiffness, loss of appetite, drooling, and vomiting. It can progress to urinary problems, seizures, weakness, severe depression, and cardiac failure.
Human toothpaste might also include a sweetener called xylitol which wreaks havoc on blood sugar levels and can cause liver failure in dogs.
We also need to remember that human toothpaste is not edible, and we spit it out instead of swallowing it. Pets generally cannot spit and will swallow the toothpaste. Human toothpaste tubes have a warning on them that stresses not to swallow it. Manufacturers of pet toothpastes formulate their products to swallow and be fully digestible.
Human toothpastes also contain a detergent, or surfactant, to help fluoride work well, causing the toothpaste to foam and carry away debris while brushing. Pet toothpaste does not foam. The foaming action is very unpleasant to pets and gives them a bad experience that makes brushing their teeth difficult.
Even those specially formulated pet dental products need to be used with care because, although it’s generally safe, it does contain xylitol—so you really need to strictly use it as directed. Minor stomach upset could occur if your pet swallows more than what is normally used for brushing. When ingested in amounts that exceed the recommended per label dose, xylitol can cause a sudden drop in a dog’s blood sugar, resulting in weakness, tremors and seizures as well as the potential for liver failure.
Second, if your dog just gets into the toothpaste to eat it, there is another concern: Did she swallow chunks of the plastic tube in which it came?
Consult your veterinarian or animal poison control center immediately if your dog eats any amount of human toothpaste.