Health, Blog

Can You Use Human Toothpaste on Dogs? Is Human Toothpaste Safe for Dogs?

Photo of author

Updated:

Author: Jacob Kay

As a dog owner, you may have seen your furry friend get bad breath, have discolouration or damage to the teeth or suffer from dental issues. To deal with these issues, the first instinct is to use the human toothpaste we have and see whether it makes their teeth better or gets rid of bad breath. But, Can you use Human Toothpaste on Dogs? This query bothers lots of dog owners, especially if their fellow friends have shared their experience of using human toothpaste on dogs.

Some of them suggest using it and others advise avoiding using it as it impacts dogs’ health. Often this can create confusion. So, Is Human Toothpaste safe for dogs? To get a proper understanding of this concern, you’ll need to read this article thoroughly. Several insightful details help provide clarity regarding this prospect. Let’s have a peek at them.

Can You Use Human Toothpaste on Dogs?

It’s a big no on using human toothpaste for dogs. The ingredients used in the human toothpaste are quite toxic for dogs. They can cause dental issues for dogs and also, trigger different health problems. Before we get into the specifics of the ingredients used and their impact on dogs, let us understand why dog owners try using human toothpaste in the first place.

human-toothpaste-dogs

Why do dog owners use human toothpaste?

The majority of dog owners use human toothpaste for their furry friends because of the lack of awareness. They think that the toothpaste will work fine and help clean dogs’ teeth and possibly resolve the dental issues dogs might be facing. Also, compared to dog toothpaste, the price of human toothpaste is less.

A human toothpaste has less per unit cost and hence, dog owners consider using it instead of the dog toothpaste. Interestingly, many dog owners don’t face any issues while using human toothpaste on their furry friends. The possible reasons for this are:

  • They are using less toothpaste to brush their dogs’ teeth. So, even with the presence of toxic substances, less quantity of toothpaste will not cause much harm to their furry friend’s teeth.
  • Irregular brushing saves dogs’ teeth from getting damaged. If dog owners use toothpaste only for a couple of days, the exposure to substances is less and the teeth don’t sustain damage.
  • At times, the toothpaste contains less amount of toxic ingredients and so, the dental health of dogs is not compromised with frequent use of toothpaste.

Now, that we know the reasons why dog owners, let’s see which ingredients present in the human toothpaste are toxic for dogs.

Ingredients present in human toothpaste

In human toothpaste, you will find ingredients like Flouride, Xylitol, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS), Essential Oils, Baking Soda, Alcohol, Menthol, and Artificial sweeteners. These ingredients can cause toxicity issues in dogs. Let’s see how these ingredients can cause toxicity issues and affect the health of dogs:

Flouride – this substance is added to the human toothpaste to increase the strength of the enamel and prevent tooth decay in humans. However, it can trigger various problems in dogs, especially if they ingest it in large quantities. Flouride in toothpaste can cause sudden drops in levels of blood sugar which can lead to different sets of problems.

A dog might suffer from issues such as vomiting, diarrhoea, weakness, tremors, gastrointestinal upset, and possibly heart issues. The problem arises because dogs don’t spit out the paste like we do and hence, leaves scope for escalation.

Xylitol – this sugar substitute is added to toothpaste to provide a sweet taste and also, prevent cavities. But, for dogs, it is quite fatal. It can cause quick release of insulin, leading to hypoglycemia, seizures, and liver damage in dogs. So, if a dog ingests human toothpaste with xylitol in it, they will face severe health issues and some toothpaste includes a high proportion which can even kill the dog.

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)- is basically a foaming agent and detergent that is commonly used in human toothpaste to produce foam. However, this foaming agent is harmful to dogs. The foam is usually spit out by the humans but, dogs cannot spit it out. Dogs produce less saliva compared to humans and instead of spitting out the paste they tend to swallow it.

Swallowing of foam produced while brushing is not good as the SLS in the paste can cause gastrointestinal issues, liver damage, and brain issues, and potentially compromise the heart as well.

Essential oils – these natural extracts provide flavour and aroma but, are toxic for dogs. Peppermint, cinnamon, tea tree, eucalyptus, and clove are some of the prominent essential oils found in human toothpaste. They can irritate dogs’ skin, trigger allergic reactions, or cause liver damage or neurological issues. Also, the presence of essential oils can irritate dogs’ mouths and lead to issues like diarrhoea, vomiting, drooling, seizures, or make breathing difficult.

Baking soda – this substance is mildly abrasive and helps neutralise acids and whiten teeth. Hence, it is used in human toothpaste. But, for dogs, the abrasive nature of baking soda is not safe. It can irritate the mouth and gums of the dogs. In addition, it can also cause electrolyte imbalance, muscle spasms, metabolic alkalosis, and seizures in dogs.

However, the abrasive nature of baking soda helps remove plaque and counter bad breath so, many dog toothpaste use it but, in a small quantity.

Alcohol – not all human toothpaste has alcohol in it but, it is used in some. So, if dog owners use this toothpaste for their dogs, the presence of alcohol can cause issues for dogs. They might suffer from vomiting or diarrhoea if ingested the toothpaste. In addition, alcohol affects dogs’ central nervous system and causes slow breathing, loss of coordination, hypothermia, coma, or, death.

Artificial sweeteners – xylitol is not the only sweetener that causes issues for dogs. There are other artificial sweeteners in human toothpaste which can cause severe health issues. Saccharin, sucralose, or aspartame are some of the other sweeteners that are found in human toothpastes. These sweeteners are in the mix to provide a sweet taste to humans while brushing.

If a dog ingests human toothpaste with any of these sweeteners present in them, it could lead to digestive upset in dogs, trigger allergic reactions, or cause metabolic disorders.

Menthol – these are added to the human toothpaste to deliver a cooling and refreshing sensation while brushing. But, it is not suitable for dogs. Menthol can irritate dogs’ mouth and digestive system tissues. On ingestion of toothpaste with menthol in it, dogs will suffer from health issues like stomach ache, diarrhoea or, vomiting.

When to Use Human Toothpaste for Dogs?

human-toothpaste-for-dogs

After analysing the side effects of ingredients present in human toothpaste for dogs one thing is for sure, dog owners must avoid using the human toothpaste completely. But, at times, vets might suggest using the paste in small proportion to maintain the dental health of the dog.

However, chances of the vet suggesting to use a human toothpaste next to slim. Being a vet myself, I haven’t encouraged the use of human toothpaste.

But, sometimes you may have to use it without vets’ consent. Below are some instances which may make dog owners use human toothpaste for their furry friends:

#1. Temporary solution

Human toothpaste can help dog owners address small dental issues like irritation, inflammation, or infection. A small amount of toothpaste will not cause any severe damage. You can use a small quantity of paste and apply it on dogs’ teeth or massage it on their gums to provide relief.

#2. Vets’ suggestion

Often vets will recommend using normal toothpaste after assessing the dental problem of the dog. They will provide the exact amount of paste that needs to be used. The vets suggest using the toothpaste because the chlorhexidine present in the paste acts as an antibacterial agent and if used properly, can help dogs.

#3. Emergencies

If the dog has a dental emergency, human toothpaste will not be a solution. But, a small amount of paste may help you buy some time. For instance, if the dog is suffering from a tooth fracture, the toothpaste mint in it might provide some relief till you take your dog to the vet’s clinic.

However, in case of emergencies, it is best not to use human toothpaste at all as it could elevate the condition and cause more issues for the dog.

#4. Runs out of dog toothpaste

Some dog owners use dog toothpaste regularly for their furry friends and they often run out of the toothpaste, especially if they brush their furry friends’ teeth daily. Now, if the paste is available easily they replace it quickly but, sometimes it is not available in the market. Dog owners mostly face this issue when travelling with their dogs. They run out of dog toothpaste and stores providing dog toothpaste are rarely available, especially in remote locations.

So, in these cases, you can use the normal toothpaste but, in a small amount. However, if you can avoid using the normal toothpaste then you should. The reason for this is simple, not every dog will be able to handle the human toothpaste. Even a small amount of toothpaste can cause issues for some dogs so, better have an extra set of dog toothpaste tubes.

These are some of the circumstances in which you can use the human toothpaste for the dogs. Remember, I am not encouraging the use of human toothpaste and as a responsible dog owner you must use it as the last option.

Using human toothpaste for dogs

As I keep mentioning, avoid using human toothpaste for your furry friend. But, some instances may force you to use it. So, to ensure your furry friends’ safety, below are some of the tips which you can consider to use human toothpaste for dogs:

  • Spread a small amount of toothpaste on the dog toothbrush, no more than pea size. Make sure the composition of ingredients such as xylitol, fluoride, artificial sweeteners, essential oils, or menthol is less or not present in your toothpaste.
  • Make sure the dog toothbrush you use doesn’t have hard bristles. Otherwise, the damage could be worse.
  • When applying the toothpaste, maintain gentle pressure even if you are using a dog toothbrush with soft bristles. Brush in small circular motions and cover the areas which need cleaning.
  • Once you apply the toothpaste to your furry friend’s teeth, make sure you pat them or use some toys or food treats as distractions. This is mainly because some dogs might not like the taste or scent of the toothpaste.

Again, using human toothpaste is not recommended and if you do use it make sure the amount is minimal to avoid any health issues in dogs. Also, make sure you are not using a normal toothbrush. Because using a normal toothbrush and toothpaste is pointless. It will only lead to health trouble and injury to dogs’ teeth and gums.

What to do if a Dog Ingests Human Toothpaste?

At times, dogs get their hands on the human toothpaste themselves. Now, if the flavour or scent of the toothpaste is luring then, they are likely to ingest the toothpaste. Generally, this doesn’t lead to instant health issues but, if the dog has managed to swallow large amounts, it triggers severe health issues.

There have been many instances where new dog owners have not known about the ingestion of toothpaste and their dog has died as well. To avoid such escalations, below are some of the steps that you can consider to ensure your furry friends’ safety.

#1. Induce vomiting

If you notice your furry friend ingesting the human toothpaste then, you need to induce vomiting. It can help get rid of the toothpaste from dogs’ stomachs and prevent health issues. But, before inducing vomiting in dogs, you need to consider the following prospects:

  • Amount of toothpaste ingested – you can observe the toothpaste tube and get a rough idea.
  • Time passed since ingestion – based on your discovery of this situation, you need to roughly gauge the time that may have elapsed since ingesting the toothpaste.
  • Dogs’ reaction – observing dogs’ health and reaction post ingestion is crucial. This will help you identify whether they are facing any discomfort or health issues.

Once you go through these prospects, you can connect with your vet on the phone and seek advice on inducing vomiting for the dog. If you are unable to reach out to the vet then you can induce vomiting yourself.

Taking about 1 teaspoon of hydrogen peroxide can help induce vomiting but, this is harmful to dogs as it is found in toothpaste itself. So, instead of hydrogen peroxide, you can try using salt water, Egg whites, Activated charcoal, or Mustard water.

#2. Take your dog to the vet

Inducing vomiting doesn’t mean the dog is healthy or back to normal, especially if you didn’t find any traces of human toothpaste in the vomiting or less amount than what has been emptied from the paste. You’ll have to take your furry friend to the vet to prevent their health from deteriorating.

Once you reach the clinic, the vet will inquire about the type of toothpaste that you have. So, make sure that you know the ingredients of the toothpaste or, have it on you to show the vet. Based on the composition of the ingredients the vet will assess your furry friends’ condition.

#3. Follow vets’ instructions

To identify the health issues, the vet will have to know the amount of toothpaste the dog has ingested and conduct different tests such as X-rays, blood tests, or other diagnostics. After a thorough examination, the vet will decide on the treatment. If the symptoms are manageable at home then, they will provide some specific instructions on what steps need to be taken.

The common instructions from the vet will mainly include providing water, and food, and monitoring their behaviour and bowel movements. If you notice any signs of discomfort or unusual behaviour, immediately consult your vet.

How to know if the dog has ingested human toothpaste?

The tips mentioned in the previous section will only be of use if you know that your furry friend has ingested the human toothpaste. So, how to recognise that the dog has ingested human toothpaste?

Well, the obvious indicator of them ingesting your toothpaste will be the smell from their mouth, the location, and the toothpaste itself. Your furry friend’s mouth will smell of the toothpaste flavour you used, they might be near the bathroom where you kept the tube, or you will see the toothpaste near them.

Some of the dogs may not show immediate symptoms and some might exhibit signs of discomfort or uneasiness after ingesting the toothpaste. Below are some of the symptoms that you may notice:

  • Diarrhoea or vomiting – your furry friend will have loose stools after eating the human toothpaste. The foam of human toothpaste will cause irritation in the stomach and the intestines. The vomiting issue is mainly due to the xylitol.
  • Loss of appetite – the flavour of toothpaste may affect the taste buds of the dogs. So, they will lose interest in water and food begin to eat less and eventually lose their appetite.
  • Abdominal pain – some dogs will groan, whine, pant, or lick their belly to indicate their discomfort. This could indicate abdominal pain.
  • Excessive drooling – the mouth of the dog might get irritated because of the toothpaste and it may cause irritation or inflammation issues because of the chemicals or foam formed because of the toothpaste.
  • Lethargy or weakness – blood sugar levels drop because of the xylitol ingredient present in the toothpaste. So, if your dog has ingested a high amount of human toothpaste, you will see them collapse here and there due to weakness.
  • Seizures and tremors – the dog might suffer from involuntary muscle movements after eating human toothpaste. This happens as xylitol can also disrupt cognitive function in dogs.
  • Lack of muscle control and coordination – the muscle coordination of the dog is compromised due to xylitol or alcohol present in the toothpaste.
  • Black tarry stool – if the dog has ingested the toothpaste you may see bloody or dark stools after eating the human toothpaste.

FAQs for Can You Use Human Toothpaste on Dogs

Can I use human toothpaste on my dog?

No! You must avoid using human toothpaste for your furry friend. The human toothpaste contains substances like fluoride, xylitol, artificial sweeteners, and other foaming agents which are toxic for dogs. Your dog could face some serious health issues from dogs. They might face issues like hypoglycemia, electrolyte imbalance, liver failure, and sometimes even death.

I used human toothpaste on my dog what should I do?

Well, human toothpaste is not good for dogs and if your dog has ingested it then there are chances of them suffering from severe health issues. If you are aware of the ingestion then, take your furry friend to the nearest clinic or immediately call your vet to ensure their safety. The toxic substances present in the human toothpaste can cause issues for the dogs.

Homemade dog toothpaste or dog toothpaste, which one is better?

Assuming you are exploring options apart from the human toothpaste as it is dangerous for dogs. If you need the best dental care for your dog then you need to go with dog toothpaste. These toothpaste are formulated using ingredients that are safe for dogs. So, there is no presence of substances like fluoride, xylitol, or any foaming agent like Sodium lauryl sulfate which could harm the dog.

Can a dog die after licking human toothpaste?

Yes, dogs may die after licking the human toothpaste. Substances like fluoride, and xylitol, and foaming agents like sodium lauryl sulfate in toothpaste are toxic and can lead to fatal health issues. Blood sugar, organ failure, nervous system problems, vomiting, diarrhoea, drooling, restlessness, and seizures are some of the potential health issues that a dog faces if they lick or ingest human toothpaste.

Final Remarks on Can You Use Human Toothpaste on Dogs?

After going through different prospects in the article, you must have realised that it’s best not to use human toothpaste on dogs. The substances used in human toothpaste are not suitable for dogs and can be life-threatening. Instead of using human toothpaste for the dog, you must consider using the dog toothpaste or, try making homemade dog toothpaste.

Dog toothpastes are safe and have no presence of toxic substances. There are many dog toothpaste in the market and to help dogs adjust to the brushing experience, they are available in different flavours. Also, for occasional brushing, you can use different ingredients at home and mix them with water or broth to use for cleaning the teeth of dogs.

So, make sure you avoid using human toothpaste for your furry friend. If you have used it or your dog has ingested it in your absence then, you need to take your dog to the vet to get them for treatment.

Photo of author
About
Jacob Kay
Jacob Kay is a Veterinary Advisor and Editor at WWD. He’s also a dog lover and has two pet dogs of his own. He has extensive knowledge in the field of veterinary medicine and is always happy to share his insights with others.

Leave a Comment