Dog dental hygiene is high on the list for keeping our best-friends mouth in tip-top condition. Cleaning should be done daily and with a special toothpaste made for pets as some of the toothpaste will be swallowed during cleaning. Dog’s can’t be taught to rinse after brushing like us. Well I don’t think they can! Now there’s a challenge.
But if you don’t know the horrible truth about dog toothpaste then you’d better read on.
Although in the UK there is legislation governing pet feeds, monitored by the Food Standards Agency, there isn’t anything specific for toothpaste. In the USA there is a not-for-profit organisation, the Veterinary Oral Health Council, which publishes a list of ‘accepted products’.
But toothpaste for dogs is not regulated as it’s not a medicine nor classed as food. So, what exactly is in dog toothpaste and is it really safe for our dogs?
What ingredients are in commercial dog toothpaste?
I decided to take a closer look at the top 5 well known brands of dog toothpaste to find out just what they’re made of (Table 1.) .
You will be horrified to see all the different chemical components that go into making something that your dog is going to ingest. I thought dog food used to be bad, but this is on a whole new level.
By the way, don’t look at the ingredients in your own toothpaste. It’s enough to make you spit it out!
Table 1. Commercial Dog Toothpaste ingredients ( 16th January 2021)
|Ingredient||Virbac Enzymatic Toothpaste Fish Flavour||Nylabone Tartar Control||Trixie Mint Toothpaste||Vet’s Best||PetSol Toothpaste For Dogs & Cats|
|Poluoxyethlene (20)-sorbitan monoleate||Y|
|Dicalcium Phosphate Anhydrous||Y|
|Glucose Oxidase (Aspergillus Niger)||Y|
|Ascorbic acid phosphate||Y|
|Magnesium Aluminum Silicate||Y|
|Sodium Lauryl Phosphate|
|Sodium Copper Chlorophyllin||Y|
What are the chemical components used for?
Okay so now we’ve seen a long list of what’s in the toothpaste, but what exactly are these strange ingredients and why are they used? Do they have any side effects if swallowed?
Well let’s check them out in detail.
Table 2. Chemical ingredients in dog toothpaste explained.
|Chemical||What’s it for?||Okay or not?|
|Sorbitol||Is a sugar substitute and used because bacteria cannot break down sorbitol into the acids that cause tooth decay. Sorbitol does have laxative properties, so in big amounts it can be problematic for pooches. Don’t let them eat all the toothpaste!||yes|
|Cellulose Gum||It is found in the cell walls of all plants and is almost entirely indigestible for dogs. It’s usually not a great thing to see it listed as an ingredient.||no|
|Methylparaben||Although studies have shown it to be non-toxic to dogs, if your dog has an underlying health issue or sensitive skin, they may be more likely to develop an allergic response to it. Plus who wants to see parabens in their products these days?||no|
|Sodium Benzoate||This is a synthetic preservative derived from a salt of benzoic acid and not toxic to dogs, BUT sodium benzoate is toxic for cats so check the ingredients.||yes|
|Silicon dioxide||This makes a ‘gritty’ texture to the toothpaste and is basically sand. Clinical studies have shown that it is safe for dogs.||yes|
|Tetrasodium pyrophosphate||While the toxicity is not generally severe enough to cause death, it can cause moderate diarrhea and nausea. If your pet suddenly has diarrhea or nausea after eating then this may be the cause. Best avoided in toothpaste.||no|
|Glycerin||It’s okay to use in soap, but not in toothpaste.Symptoms reported include decreased appetite; decreased activity; vomiting; diarrhea, sometimes with blood; increased water consumption and/or increased urination||no|
|Xanthan Gum||This is a thickener and stabilizer and used to bind the other ingredients together. It is safe. Although can cause diarrhea in a huge dose||yes|
|Poluoxyethlene (20)-sorbitan monoleate||It’s an emulsifier often added to animal feed. If your dog has sensitive teeth, gums or tummy then make sure you avoid this chemical.||no|
|Potassium Sorbate||Another preservative used and considered generally safe although it can be a skin and respiratory tract irritant, so best avoided.||no|
|Citric acid||Citric acid is used in pet foods as an adjunct in preservative antioxidant systems. It’s pet safe in the tiny quantities in your toothpaste||yes|
|Dicalcium Phosphate Anhydrous||This is a calcium supplement and used as a tartar control agent. t It’s virtually insoluble and can cause calcification of soft tissue and research has shown it leads to kidney stones, as well.||no|
|Hydrated Silica||This works as an abrasive to scrub away plaque and is safe for pets in toothpaste||yes|
|Dextrose||This is used as a sweetener and is in such small amounts that it is not enough to worry about.||yes|
|Titanium Dioxide||This is used as a whitener and a safe and effective colour additive for petfoods and treats according to the Pet Food Industry||yes|
|Potassium Thiocyanate||More commonly used in printing – but is added to toothpaste to reduce gum inflammation and plaque.Personally, I’d avoid anything with this in it||no|
|Glucose Oxidase (Aspergillus Niger)||A food enzyme generally considered safe for humans but no studies have been done with dogs.||maybe|
|Lactoperoxidase||Another enzyme that boosts saliva’s antibacterial, anti-fungal and anti-viral effect in humans. Again, no canine related studies to date.||maybe|
|Ascorbic acid phosphate||This is synthetic vitamin C. Why it’s in toothpaste I really don’t know.||no|
|Sodium Hexametaphosphate||It’s a dispersing agent used to break up clay! It might have some value reducing tartar, but no thanks.||no|
|Magnesium Aluminum Silicate||Purely a cosmetic ingredient to bulk up the toothpaste.||no|
|Sodium Lauryl Phosphate||Okay, so this is used in SHAMPOO and is a paraben. It has no place in your dog’s mouth.||no|
|Sodium Copper Chlorophyllin||A chemical colourant to make the toothpaste look green. Need I say more.||no|
Now that made some scary reading, didn’t it. So many unnecessary and potentially harmful ingredients in dog toothpaste. I bet you’re wondering if the top brands we analysed above pass the complete checklist for pet safe ingredients. Well here’s the answer. No. Not a single one of the five we reviewed passed.
So what do you do?
Personally I wouldn’t buy any of them and opt for either homemade doggy toothpaste which I’ve included a recipe for below, or a completely natural brand.
But why can’t I use human toothpaste on my dog?
Xylitol is completely toxic to dogs and often found in human toothpaste, so no, don’t be tempted to brush your dog’s teeth with your own toothpaste. Plus most dog’s really aren’t a big fan of minty flavours. That’s why dog toothpaste is meaty.
Our favourite natural dog toothpaste you can buy
If you are going to buy toothpaste then you should opt for something that is as natural as possible to avoid any potential issues.
We love this one from It’s a Dog’s Life. Natural, tasty, green! and Dolly loves it.
Where to buy it
What can I brush my dog’s teeth with if I don’t buy specific dog toothpaste?
I’m so glad you asked. You can make your own. Here’s my homemade doggy toothpaste recipe for you to make.
Ingredients you can use in homemade dog toothpaste:
- Baking soda – works as an exfoliate.
- Coconut oil.
- Flavourings you can use:
- stock cubes (beef, chicken)
- fresh parsley
- natural peanut butter ( no xylitol)
- Kelp – can be bought in powder form for dogs ( and cats)
- Turmeric powder – organic
Homemade Dog Toothpaste – Meaty Flavour with Kelp and Turmeric
- 1/4 cup Coconut oil
- 3 tbsp Baking soda
- 1 tbsp Flavouring stock /bouillon cube
- 1 tbsp Chopped parsley (optional) and needs chopping very finely
- 1 tsp Kelp powder (optional) makes green toothpaste
- 1/2 tsp Turmeric great for gum health
- Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and pop them in the fridge to firm up for 1 hour
What alternatives are there to toothpaste for keeping your dog’s teeth clean?
According to this study about dental chews, dogs that had a daily dental stick had significantly less gingivitis, plaque and calculus compared to dogs on an identical diet who didn’t receive a chew. They concluded that the dental hygiene chews tested in the study had potential to help reduce the incidence of periodontal disease in dogs.
So there you have it. The truth about doggy toothpaste uncovered. So don’t buy it, better to make it or opt for a natural cleaner like a daily dental stick to keep your pooches teeth and gums in tip top condition.