My dog ate Human Toothpaste. What Should I do?

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Key Takeaways:

  • Human toothpaste is poisonous to dogs as it’s not designed to be swallowed and can have dangerous ingredients.
  • Fluoride can be poisonous in large quantities.
  • High sodium contents of human toothpaste can cause electrolyte abnormalities in dogs
  • Some toothpastes contain xylitol which is highly toxic to dogs

You know it’s good practice to brush your pooch’s teeth, but are you wondering what product you should use?

There are lots of commercial specially formulated toothpastes for dogs, so you shouldn’t be reaching for your own human product. 

Human toothpaste is poisonous to our pooches and can cause weakness, seizures, melena (blood in feces), and even death.

How much human toothpaste is toxic to dogs?

The risk of poisoning from ingesting human toothpaste depends on two things, the concentration of fluoride and the presence and concentration of xylitol in the product.

If your pooch has eaten human toothpaste (or any other human dental product), then you should call your veterinarian immediately and also the dog Poison Helpline for advice and an appointment to treat your dog. 

The Pet Poison Helpline phone number is (855) 764-7661. 

Xylitol is highly toxic to dogs and can cause life-threatening hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) within just 15 minutes of ingestion. 

This artificial sweetener is often used in human toothpastes as a flavor enhancer and is completely safe for us humans but not our furry friends. Just 0.1g/kg of body weight can cause hypoglycemia, while just 0.5g/kg can cause acute liver failure in our canine companions. 

Fluoride is an ingredient in almost all human toothpastes and is excellent for maintaining our pearly whites in tip-top condition but should not be swallowed in large quantities, and our pooch friends don’t tend to spit out their toothpaste. Fluoride comes in many forms, with some of the most common being sodium fluoride or sodium monofluorophosphate. 

A fatal dose of sodium fluoride is just 5-10 mg/kg of body weight, while signs of toxicity can occur from just 1 mg/kg body weight. Just 1g of some toothpastes contains 5 mg fluoride, and a small amount may be enough to poison a pocket-sized pooch. 

The concentration of fluoride and xylitol will determine the risk of poisoning to your pooch, along with your pooch’s body weight. Never take a risk with your dog’s health, and always contact your veterinarian and the dog Poison Helpline to help determine if your dog is likely to suffer any ill effects from their dietary indiscretion. 

What would happen if my dog ate human toothpaste?

If your dog has eaten human toothpaste, the initial signs to expect are gastrointestinal signs such as vomiting, salivation or drooling, and restlessness. This can progress to seizures, collapse, coma, and even the death of your fur baby. 

Human toothpaste that contains xylitol will also cause your dog to become weak and lethargic and may even develop seizures or collapse due to hypoglycemia. Toothpaste with xylitol can also cause melena (black tarry stool) and liver failure.

Fluoride intoxication can lead to cardiac signs, difficulty breathing, convulsions, and even death. High levels of sodium can lead to electrolyte imbalances that affect your dog’s heart rate and ability to pump blood around their body. 

Early signs that your dog has eaten human toothpaste include vomiting and weakness (if there’s xylitol in the product), but this can progress to seizures, convulsions and even the death of your dog.

When Should I Take My Dog To the Vet?

If your dog eats any toothpaste, you should contact your veterinarian immediately. Have the tube of toothpaste to hand so you can provide the concentration of fluoride and xylitol, and have, if possible, weigh your dog so your veterinarian can help calculate the risk to your dog. 

Xylitol poisoning can show signs within just 15-30 minutes, so you should take your dog to your veterinarian as soon as possible in order to prevent your dog from suffering with life-threatening hypoglycemia. 

As soon as you find out that your dog has eaten human toothpaste, you should contact your veterinarian for an emergency appointment. This is particularly important if there’s xylitol in the toothpaste, as it can rapidly affect your dog. 

What if my dog ate plenty of human toothpaste but seems fine?

After eating human toothpaste, your dog may seem fine for a short period if there’s xylitol within it but it can rapidly affect your dog, and just 0.1g/kg of xylitol can cause acute and life-threatening hypoglycemia within 30 minutes. Larger quantities of xylitol can cause liver damage and subsequent liver failure.

Fluoride takes a little longer to be fully absorbed, but it’s still relatively rapid, with absorption within 90 minutes. Small amounts are all it takes for your dog to show signs such as gastroenteritis, restlessness, difficulty breathing, cardiac arrhythmias, and even convulsions and death. 

Even if your dog seems normal after eating human toothpaste, you should contact your veterinarian immediately for an emergency appointment. 

Signs that my dog ate human toothpaste

Clinical signs that your dog ate human toothpaste include:

  • Vomiting
  • Salivation/Drooling
  • Restlessness
  • Anorexia
  • Weakness
  • Stiffness
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Cardiac arrhythmias
  • Convulsions
  • Death

If the toothpaste contains xylitol, then signs will include:

  • Vomiting
  • Lethargy and weakness
  • Incoordination
  • Seizures
  • Collapse
  • Low blood sugar
  • Liver failure
  • Melena (black stool)
  • Coma 
  • Death

As you can see from the list of possible clinical signs after your dog eats human toothpaste that there can be life-threatening consequences for them. Contact your veterinarian as soon as you discover your dog has eaten human toothpaste. 

How do veterinarians treat dogs that have eaten human toothpaste?

If your dog ate toothpaste within a short period of time, your veterinarian may elect to induce vomiting, this is particularly likely if your dog is currently asymptomatic. Your veterinarian will also prescribe your dog with liver-protectant medications, antioxidants, and vitamin E. 

Intravenous therapy will likely be started, and blood work will also be performed. Your veterinarian will assess electrolytes, liver enzymes, blood coagulation times, and bilirubin levels for at least the following three days. 

Most dogs need to be hospitalized after eating a toxic level of human toothpaste but the duration of their stay will depend on the ingredients of the toothpaste and the amount ingested alongside your dog’s clinical signs. 

If there was xylitol in the toothpaste that your dog ingested, then your dog’s blood glucose levels will be monitored every 1-2 hours and supplemental glucose or dextrose will be administered via an IV if your dog is hypoglycemic.

Fluoride poisoning can be treated with calcium and magnesium supplementation through your dog’s IV fluids, or your vet may even administer milk by mouth to help bind fluoride and prevent further absorption. 

Treatment of human toothpaste poisoning depends on rapid action and getting your dog to your veterinarian as soon as possible. Prepare for your dog to be hospitalized for a number of days following ingestion of human toothpaste.

How Long Will it Take My Dog to Recover?

Pooches that have eaten toxic amounts of human toothpaste but receive the prompt veterinary intervention will likely need to be hospitalized for up to 3 days, with mild cases being discharged within 24-48 hours. 

More severe cases obviously can take longer, and your dog may require ongoing care for a few days after discharge. 

The length of time your dog is required to stay in the hospital to fully recover from toothpaste toxicity will depend on how much they’ve eaten, how rapidly they received treatment, how well your dog responds to that treatment, and the presence of other underlying diseases your dog may have. 

Final Woof

This article may seem like a scary read because of how toxic both fluoride and xylitol are and their presence in so many human toothpaste and other dental products. It’s important to keep dogs away from most human hygiene products and NEVER use human toothpaste to brush your dog’s teeth as it’s not designed to be swallowed, and our fur babies don’t spit it out. 

Both xylitol and fluoride are highly toxic to our canine companions, and rapid treatment is essential for a good outcome. Don’t delay in contacting your veterinarian and the dog Poison Helpline should your dog have eaten any human toothpaste. 

You can contact the Pet Poison Helpline at (855) 764-7661. 

Photo of author
Since graduating from Dublin, Ireland in 2013 with an honors Veterinary Medicine degree, Edele has enjoyed working with as many species of animal as possible. Edele is currently working in clinical practice while studying towards Advanced Practitioner status with the RCVS in the UK. Passionate about education and writing, Edele’s goal is to maximize the pet-owner bond and welfare through education accessible to everyone. Never found without her middle-aged Weimaraner, Purdy (who still thinks she’s 18 months old), Edele spends her limited time outdoors with her horses, hiking and traveling home to Ireland to spend time with family.

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