This week’s response is from veterinarian Larry Gilman of the Bishop Ranch Veterinary Center, 2000 Bishop Drive, San Ramon; (925) 866-8387.
Q: We’ve been warned not to use toothpaste with fluoride on our dogs, but in recent years, dog toothpastes containing fluoride have appeared on the market. I realize that, because our pups don’t live as long as humans, the fluoride wouldn’t build up in their systems to the degree that it would in a human, but still, who wants to poison his dog, even in small doses! What is the real risk of fluoride for dogs?
A: Brushing your dog’s teeth daily helps removes bacteria, plaque and debris and is a great addition to pet health care. Dogs don’t get cavities, but they do get periodontal disease, and brushing helps prevent this. The appropriate toothpaste to use is a pet toothpaste that has enzymes to control plaque.
The use of fluoride in pet toothpastes is controversial, and most veterinary dental specialists and general practitioners don’t recommend its use because of the potential problem of toxicity. Human toothpastes can have higher levels of fluoride, as well as salts, detergents and baking soda that can harm your dog’s teeth.
Don’t forget that people rinse after brushing, but dogs just swallow the toothpaste. An overdose of fluoride can cause vomiting and at higher levels can lead to kidney damage.
Why are there pet toothpastes with fluoride? Because it appeals to the consumer, and it sells. Talk to your veterinarian to learn more about dental health, and remember: Brushing your dog’s teeth is a good thing, and most dogs can be trained to accept this daily fun activity.
Send your pet concern questions to firstname.lastname@example.org with Ask the Vet in the guideline, and each month a guest veterinarian will address a different subject. Ask the Vet is for informational purposes only. Readers should not act on information seen in this column without seeking professional veterinary advice.
This article appeared on page F – 5 of the San Francisco Chronicle