Dog owners are being warned never to use human toothpaste to brush their dog’s teeth after a research study found shocking results that pet owners have been using it to treat bad breath. The RSPCA states that human toothpaste is not good for animals, since the fluoride and occasional use of artificial sweetener can be toxic to pets if they swallow it.
The research was commissioned by Lily’s Kitchen, a pet food company. The study followed 2,000 pet owners and showed that nearly 8% of them tried to cover up their dog’s bad breath with the help of human toothpaste. However, it should be pointed out that fluoride can cause gastrointestinal issues, like diarrhea and vomiting since it reduces the calcium in the blood while increasing potassium levels.
The presence of the sweetener, xylitol, which is found in certain kinds of toothpaste, can be potentially lethal to pets if not treated.
London-based veterinary director at the RSPCA, Caroline Allen, said, “Not only will pets be less likely to tolerate the foaming and the minty flavor of human toothpaste but there is also a risk to their health from swallowing human toothpaste.”
She added, “While there is a potential risk to pets from the ongoing swallowing of fluoride…the inclusion of the artificial sweetener xylitol in toothpaste is a more serious concern as this is much more toxic and products containing this ingredient should not be given to dogs.”
Besides toothpaste, the survey also found that dog owners were giving their pets mints in an effort to curb bad breath. As a result, a spokeswoman for the charity advised owners that they should, on a daily basis, brush their pet’s teeth with specialist toothpaste rather than using mints.
The Kennel Club spokesperson advised, “While we applaud owners who take responsibility for caring for their dog’s teeth, we would also stress that only toothpaste formulated for dogs should ever be used.”