Dog owners are being warned not to use human toothpaste to clean their pet’s teeth. The RSPCA, a leading UK pet charity, is concerned that owners are brushing their dog’s teeth with shop-bought minty toothpaste, in a bid to solve a bad breath problem.
The warning comes after a survey of 2,000 pet owners revealed that 8% of them had resorted to using breath freshening minty toothpaste on their dog. What the owners failed to take into account was that human toothpaste is potentially toxic for dogs.
Why is Human Toothpaste Dangerous for Dogs?
The toothpaste used to keep bad breath and gum disease at bay contains a number of potentially deadly ingredients (for dogs). Most over-the-counter toothpaste contains fluoride. Fluoride is an essential ingredient in the fight against tooth decay. It does wonders for human teeth, but it is bad for dogs, even in very small doses. When ingested by a dog, fluoride can cause vomiting and diarrhea. It also affects blood calcium and potassium levels, leading to serious metabolic problems.
Human toothpaste also contains xylitol, an artificial sweetener found in many products, including chewing gum, candy, and some brands of peanut butter. Xylitol is toxic to dogs. When ingested, it leads to a dramatic fall in blood sugar levels (hypoglycemia), as it stimulates the dog’s pancreas to release massive amounts of insulin.
If treated early, xylitol toxicity can quickly be brought under control. Sadly, around 250 dogs were poisoned by xylitol in 2016, and at least one of those pets died.
Use a Specialist Toothpaste for Dogs
The RSPCA is urging owners to use specialist pet toothpaste to clean their dog’s teeth each day. There are several products available for pet owners, along with toothbrushes designed for a dog’s mouth. It does take patience to get your dog used to his teeth being brushed, but this is one case where it is worth persevering.
Around 20% of dog owners are concerned about their pet’s noxious breath. Unfortunately, bad breath, along with mucus in dog poop, is a common problem in dogs, especially older pets. Bad breath is a sign of gum disease in dogs. If left untreated, gum disease can lead to abscesses, difficulties eating, and eventually tooth loss. All of these complications are painful for the dog and expensive for its owner of the pet requires veterinary intervention.
The best way to prevent problems with a dog’s gums and teeth is to pay close attention to dental hygiene. Giving a dog a dental stick that removes plaque when chewed is a quick and easy way to stay on top of the problem. However, pet owners should also try brushing their dog’s teeth once a day.
Consult a Vet for Advice on Cleaning a Dog’s Teeth
If owners need help with this, they should raise the issue at their dog’s next veterinary health check. Vets normally check a dog’s teeth as part of a general health check, so any serious issues can be dealt with before they escalate.