What Should You Do if Your Dog Ate Toothpaste?

Your dog’s dental health is important and maybe you’ve already shared your toothpaste with your pooch, thinking of all the benefits that good teeth brushing can bring them (for example, getting rid of that bad breath that dogs always have)!

Unfortunately, if your dog ate toothpaste they should be monitored because the ingredients in our toothpaste are toxic to them, and in some cases, they can provoke severe reactions and even be deadly.

What should you do if your dog eats toothpaste?

When dogs and toothpaste mix up, it’s not always a medical emergency, because if your dog got only a taste of toothpaste or even if you brushed their teeth with some toothpaste that one time, they should be fine.

Even if you don’t use human toothpaste on purpose, you might catch your dog eating toothpaste because these products usually have strong scents that make dogs very intrigued.

Depending on the size of your dog and the amount of toothpaste eaten, they could show mild to severe symptoms. On top of that, if your dog chewed on the toothpaste tube and swallowed the plastic, there could be another series of GI tract problems to worry about.

The best thing to do when you know your dog swallowed quite an amount of toothpaste, but not the plastic tube, is to bring them to the vet and let them induce vomiting right away.

It is not recommended to induce vomiting if your dog swallowed plastic because the pieces of plastic may have sharp edges that could hurt your dog’s esophagus coming up. However, this is for the veterinarian to decide.

You can only induce vomiting if the accident has happened in the last two hours, otherwise, the toothpaste will have already passed through the stomach.

After that, your veterinarian may still decide to use activated carbon to absorb the toxicity of the toothpaste ingredients, or they might proceed a different way.

How to treat toothpaste poisoning in dogs at home. 

(Please note: if you can reach your veterinarian or animal hospital in the area, do so. Calling the Pet Poison Helpline or the ASPCA is also a better option than try to treat your dog at home if you’re inexperienced. Before attempting any of the following procedures, consult a professional — when possible.)

If you’re unable to reach animal facilities in your area, there are 3 procedures you can try at home:

  • Induce vomiting
  • Activated charcoal
  • Fasting and bland diet

If you’re not sure whether your dog has ingested the plastic of the toothpaste tube or not, it is better NOT to induce vomiting. This procedure has several risks, including aspiration pneumonia and possible internal bleeding due to the plastic shards.

In order to induce vomiting in your dog, you will need 2 teaspoons of 3% hydrogen peroxide per 10lbs of body weight. You can ONLY give two doses of hydrogen peroxide to your dog, 15 minutes away from each other, and ONLY if the first one doesn’t make them vomit.

Activated carbon has a similar window of efficacy as hydrogen peroxide, so if it’s been more than 3 hours since the ingestion, it probably won’t work, but since it has no dangerous side-effects, you can still try.

The recommended dose of activated charcoal is 1-3 grams per kg of body weight and it should reduce toxins by 80% in 3 hours. You can mix it with human baby food (make sure it doesn’t contain toxic ingredients for your dogs like onion or garlic).

After attempting these procedures, until you can get your dog to a veterinarian or animal hospital, it is recommended that you do the following:

Withhold food for 12 hours to let the intestines rest

Your dog is encouraged to have clear liquids during this time, including water, apple juice diluted 50:50 with water and beef/chicken broth diluted 50:50 with water. Give liquids to your dog in small amounts, but frequently (every hour or so).

After 12 hours, you can start reintroducing food through a bland diet. The ideal ratio would be 75% white rice and 25% low-fat proteins (boiled extra-lean ground beef without fats, boiled chicken breast without fats, microwaved scrambled eggs cooked without fat). For a medium-sized dog, ½ cup every 3-4 hours should be fine.

Observe them for a couple of days. If they’re recovering, on the third day you can start by feeding them bigger meals further apart from each other. On the fourth day, mix a little of their normal dog food in the bland diet and reduce the daily meals down to 3. Continue until you fully reintroduce their normal diet.

Don’t forget to bring them in for a medical examination as soon as you can.

Is toothpaste bad for dogs? 

Human toothpaste contains many ingredients that could potentially poison your dog. Each toothpaste is different, but most of them have in common two components: xylitol and fluoride. Both of these ingredients are very harmful to pets.

On top of that, there’s no saying in what other ingredients contained in a specific type or brand of toothpaste could be harmful to pets, so we can’t say there is a safe human toothpaste for dogs.

In many cases, dogs don’t even enjoy our toothpaste, because it foams and dogs feel uncomfortable with the sensation. They can’t spit it or swallow it as we do, so don’t put them through this situation.

Xylitol 

Xylitol is a popular replacement for sugar in many foods and hygiene products because it has no calories so it’s perfect for diets and it’s associated with improvements in oral health for humans: specifically, it prevents tooth decay.

This ingredient is basically sugar alcohol and while it has no effect on humans, it’s devastating if ingested by pets. In fact, xylitol is immediately absorbed by the bloodstream in dogs, pushing the pancreas to produce insulin.

An excessive amount of insulin will cause the sugar levels in the blood to drop, provoking hypoglycemia. Hypoglycemia can become deadly really quickly.

Symptoms of low blood sugar in dogs include:

  • Vomiting
  • Weakness
  • Lack of coordination
  • Tremors
  • Seizures
  • Nausea
  • Lethargy
  • Collapse
  • Coma

Symptoms like weakness, nausea, lack of coordination, and vomiting may appear at the same time. Xylitol can cause hypoglycemia as quickly as 15 minutes after the ingestion, so if your dog ate toothpaste, contact your veterinarian immediately.

While humans can ingest a large amount of xylitol per day without consequence except mild stomach discomfort or diarrhea, a quantity equal or superior to 0.1 grams per kg of body weight is enough to provoke hypoglycemia in dogs.

Another symptom associated with the ingestion of xylitol is blood in the stools. This could happen if xylitol causes GI tract distress or liver failure. Sometimes, dogs do not show other symptoms until extensive damage to the liver has already occurred.

Fluoride 

Fluoride is present in most toothpaste and other oral hygiene products.

In large quantities, it is very toxic to dogs and it’s symptoms range from mild to severe, where mild symptoms could be diarrhea and stomach discomfort, while severe symptoms could be seizures and limping.

Indeed, this ingredient can cause all kinds of harm to dogs and we can divide its toxicity into acute and chronic.

Acute fluoride toxicity happens when your dog ingests a lot of fluoride at once, for example, if they go through a whole tube of toothpaste. Symptoms of acute fluoride toxicity in dogs include:

  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Drooling
  • Restlessness
  • Incontinence
  • Weakness
  • Seizures

Fluoride gets absorbed by the body within 90 minutes, starting with the outbreak of gastrointestinal discomfort, then developing into increased heart rate and other serious symptoms.

If untreated, acute fluoride toxicity can be deadly within a few hours.

Chronic fluoride toxicity happens when your dog eats a bit of fluoride regularly and for a long time, for example, if you brush your dog’s teeth with your toothpaste every day.

Fluoride is not meant to be swallowed, in fact, we spit out the toothpaste and rinse our mouth after brushing our teeth. However, forcing a dog not to swallow something is not easy and neither is making them spit something.

Symptoms of chronic fluoride toxicity include:

  • Depigmentation of the teeth
  • Appearance of dark stain-like patches on the teeth
  • Weakened bones
  • Chronic gastric disorders

Sometimes, fluoride is added to toothpaste meant for dogs as well. This shouldn’t happen because pet’s toothpaste is meant to be swallowed, and as we’ve seen fluoride shouldn’t be ingested by our pets.

The only thing you can do is to check the ingredients on your dog’s toothpaste before making the purchase or avoid using toothpaste altogether.

In fact, what keeps a dog’s teeth clean is not the product in itself, but the action of brushing. Simply brush your dog’s teeth properly with just water and you will avoid any further complications.

Baking soda 

When baking, we use baking soda because it makes our dough expand and makes it soft. In fact, this product tends to grow when in contact with acids in a heated environment.

Unfortunately, your dog’s stomach is the perfect environment for baking soda to expand. As it expands, it leads to blockage of the stomach or intestines, excessive gas, and other GI tract related issues.

While a small amount of baking soda isn’t concerning, if your dog goes through the tube of toothpaste, they may be at risk.

Many kinds of toothpaste contain baking soda, so make sure to look out for symptoms of baking soda toxicity in dogs, such as:

  • Abdominal swelling
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Lethargy
  • Lack of appetite
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Disorientation
  • Depression
  • Tremors
  • Seizures

Baking soda is also extremely salty and abrasive, which means it could provoke inflammation or even internal wounds while in the digestive tract.

Other consequences of baking soda ingestion in dogs include severe conditions like electrolyte imbalance and congestive heart failure. Both of these conditions can be lethal if untreated, so have your dog checked if they ingested a lot of toothpaste.

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate 

If you’ve ever stopped and wondered why exactly our toothpaste and soaps foam and froth, wonder no more because the answer is SLS, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate.

This agent has no real purpose except that of creating foam and it doesn’t seem to be safe for humans either so when in doubt, remember not to swallow your toothpaste.

This chemical causes gastrointestinal issues in dogs, which is another reason why dog’s toothpaste doesn’t foam.

It is also a well-known skin irritant present in some dog’s shampoos. It is toxic even when inhaled because it may have been contaminated by toxic solvents from the manufacturing process.

When using a dog’s shampoo containing SLS, the main risk is that of contaminating the eyes, causing irritation and damage.

When ingested, even in small quantities, this chemical is able to remain in the system (heart, liver, brain) for several days and cause damage.

How to diagnose toothpaste poisoning in dogs. 

When your dog eats toothpaste, it is better to bring them in for a medical examination right away, because some dogs may not show symptoms of intoxication until there has already been extensive damage to the liver or other organs.

Remember to bring the toothpaste with you, so that your veterinarian can quickly read the ingredients and plan a tailor-made treatment for your dog. Bringing the toothpaste also ensures that you can check whether or not your dog has ingested plastic.

When possible, your veterinarian will immediately try to get your dog to vomit the toothpaste or to reduce the toxicity by giving activated charcoal. At the same time, they will need to carry out blood and urine tests.

Dogs that ate toothpaste and were therefore poisoned by xylitol usually have one or more of these issues:

  • Low blood sugar levels (hypoglycemia)
  • Low phosphate levels (hypophosphatemia)
  • Low potassium levels (hypokalemia)
  • High bilirubin levels (hyperbilirubinemia)
  • Coagulopathies (inability of the blood to clot, usually due to liver failure and hemorrhage)

Professional treatment for toothpaste poisoning in dogs. 

The main concern with toothpaste is to treat hypoglycemia and electrolyte imbalance. In order to do that, your dog will need intravenous therapy and constant monitoring until they’re out of danger.

Your dog will be hospitalized so that the veterinarian can keep the development of symptoms under control. The sugar levels in the blood will need to be checked every hour, and it’s also important to control the liver conditions.

To protect the liver, antioxidants and vitamin E may be administered. If coagulopathy is present, plasma and/or blood transfusion will be necessary to treat it.

Even after your dog has left the hospital, it will be necessary to carry out additional blood tests after a few days to check the conditions of the liver.

The prognosis for hypoglycemia is good if treated in time and your dog will recover. However, if there’s damage to the liver or liver necrosis, the prognosis may be less positive.

Can dogs eat toothpaste? 

No, they can’t. Human toothpaste is not meant to be swallowed and given that it’s hard to control what a dog might or might now swallow, it’s better not to use human toothpaste to brush your dog’s teeth.

Most human toothpastes contain xylitol and fluoride, both of which are toxic and even lethal if ingested in large quantities.

If your dog has ingested toothpaste by accident, consider that your dog will probably need a medical examination. If a large amount of toothpaste was ingested, your dog will need to be hospitalized to avoid the worst outcome.

Dogs are curious and may sometimes get into your hygiene products, be it toothpaste or dental floss. These products have alluring smells for dogs but are harmful to them, so keep them stored away.

On the market, you will find toothpaste made specifically for dogs, but make sure to check the ingredients because some of them contain fluoride. In the alternative, you can simply brush your dog’s teeth with water and still get good results.