What's the Difference Between Toothpaste for Dogs & People?

by Catherine Lovering
    Clean your dog's teeth using a toothpaste made specifically for him.

    Clean your dog's teeth using a toothpaste made specifically for him.

    Kane Skennar/Photodisc/Getty Images

    Puppies have a tendency to swallow almost anything that goes into their mouths. This includes toothpaste, which may not be very appetizing to the average human, but to a puppy, may be a tasty treat. Human toothpaste can be unhealthy for dogs. Caring for your dog's teeth is important to keep him healthy, but be sure to use toothpaste designed for pets.

    Human toothpaste may contain fluoride, which can cause stomach irritation when swallowed. In large amounts, fluoride can be toxic to your pup, and for puppies under 6 months of age, fluoride can prevent tooth enamel from properly forming. As much as your puppy may seem able to handle eating almost anything, human toothpaste contains ingredients his little body just wasn't designed to process. On the other hand, canine toothpaste comes in appealing flavors like chicken and beef, which Fido will enjoy much more than mint or cinnamon.

    Choosing a toothpaste designed for pets is ideal. However, it's important to be discerning when choosing a brand. Ask your vet for advice. Some dog toothpastes may contain xylitol, which when ingested in amounts larger than the label directions, can cause your dog's blood sugar to drop and potentially cause liver failure, according to the ASCPA.

    The ASPCA recommends using a paste made out of baking soda and water to brush your dog's teeth, as an alternative to toothpaste made for dogs. Baking soda can be as effective as a commercial dog toothpaste and will not cause your pup any adverse health effects.

    A vet can tell you if your dog has any serious dental problems that need medical attention. Once you've gotten the go-ahead to do regular cleanings on your own, ease your pup into it. Touch his lips and gums on a regular basis for a few weeks. Then introduce the paste by putting it on his lips and letting him lick it. Finally, use a toothbrush made for pets or a clean piece of gauze on your finger to gently clean the teeth using a circular motion.

    Photo Credits

    • Kane Skennar/Photodisc/Getty Images

    About the Author

    Catherine Lovering has been a freelance writer since 2006. She has been published in "The Globe and Mail" and "The Legal Edge." Lovering holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of British Columbia, a Bachelor of Laws from the University of Victoria and a Licentate in Law from the University of Ottawa.

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