Pups need their teeth brushed to keep their pearly whites clean. Don't reach for human toothpaste to clean Fido's mouth, though, because many of its ingredients are toxic to our canine companions. Canine toothpastes contain ingredients that are both safe for him and tasty.
Toothpaste designed for humans contains chemicals that can cause stomach upset in our canine companions if they ingest them. These chemicals include fluoride, sodium lauryl sulphate and xylitol, all of which are potentially toxic if ingested by your pooch, according to "Oh My Dog: How to Choose, Train, Groom, Nurture, Feed, and Care for Your New Best Friend." Of course, these chemicals could also cause minor upset in people if swallowed, but you know that after brushing, you are supposed to spit the paste out and rinse your mouth with water. Your dog doesn't understand this concept and will swallow the paste.
Canine toothpaste contains only nonfoaming ingredients that are safe for your pup to swallow in small amounts. Ingredients like baking soda and silica help to scrub the teeth of debris and are considered pup-safe. Antibacterial agents like enzymes including glucose oxidase and lactoperoxidase, which eliminate bacteria, are in many pet toothpastes. Bacteria that fester in your pup's mouth form plaque, which later hardens into tartar, causing dental issues such as tooth decay and gingivitis. By eliminating bacteria, enzymes prevent dental issues and freshen your pup's breath. These enzymes won't upset your pup's tummy if he ingests them, according to the Sun Lakes Animal Clinic website.
Your pup needs to enjoy the flavor of the paste when you're rubbing it into his mouth. Fido won't tolerate toothpaste if it tastes unpleasant, making brushing a difficult task. Try different flavors to see what Fido prefers. While baking soda is a safe ingredient in pet toothpaste to brush your pup's teeth, he may not like its texture or taste. Instead, try pastes containing enzymes or potassium chloride that don't taste as salty.
Dental disease can cause a variety of issues for your pooch, including tooth decay, gingivitis, tooth loss, bad breath and even organ damage from mouth bacteria traveling through Fido's bloodstream, the Whole Dog Journal warns. Brushing your pup's mouth with human toothpaste will only result in vomiting and diarrhea when he swallows it. If the paste contains xylitol, it could even cause seizures and tremors for your pup, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Stick to using pup-safe canine toothpaste for Fido's dental care. Rub the paste all over your pup's teeth daily, using your finger, a piece of gauze or a special doggie toothbrush, to prevent canine dental problems.
- Oh My Dog: How to Choose, Train, Groom, Nurture, Feed, and Care for Your New Best Friend; Beth O. Stern and Kristina Grish
- American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: Ten Steps to Your Dog’s Dental Health
- Dog Health Guide: Canine Tooth Brushing
- The Whole Dog Journal: How to Properly Care for Your Dog's Teeth
- Midlothian Animal Clinic: Dog Toothpaste, Cat toothpaste ... Why Use Pet Toothpaste?
- WebMD: Dangers of Plaque & Gingivitis to Your Health
Based in Las Vegas, Susan Paretts has been writing since 1998. She writes about many subjects including pets, finances, crafts, food, home improvement, shopping and going green. Her articles, short stories and reviews have appeared on City National Bank's website and on The Noseprint. Paretts holds a Master of Professional Writing from the University of Southern California.