My Dog Ate Toothpaste – How Dangerous Is It?

My Dog Ate Toothpaste

Dogs always tend to help themselves to things without asking.  If one of those things is toothpaste, however, you’re going to want to take quick action to make sure that he stays safe and healthy. Here’s what you need to know about your dog’s unauthorized toothpaste access!

If you’ve discovered that your dog ate toothpaste, you need to remove toothpaste from his mouth as much as possible and figure out how much he’s eaten. Once that’s done, you have to call your vet immediately get him in for an appointment as soon as possible.  From a dime amount to a larger amount, you have to act quickly and immediately to make sure that you keep it a mild health scare rather than a potentially larger. Human toothpaste is very dangerous for your doggo.

Can dogs eat toothpaste?

Not only can dogs not eat toothpaste, but humans can also not eat toothpaste!  Ever wonder why we have to spit it out again after using it?  It’s because it’s very dangerous for even humans to eat it.  This is mainly because of the biggest active ingredient called xylitol.  Dangerous for humans if you randomly decide to eat it, it’s could be deadly to a dog. 

Why is toothpaste dangerous for dogs?

The danger of toothpaste for your dog comes from the main ingredients that are used in it, which are xylitol, fluoride, and baking soda.  Each of these can create a series of symptoms and reactions that, especially when combined together, can often provide serious health risks that often have lasting health effects and can easily be fatal. 

Xylitol

This is the main problem ingredient in toothpaste for your dog. With just a very small amount (more on that later), xylitol can cause liver failure, seizures, and even a coma very, very quickly (how quick is quick? Keep reading).  This is mostly because it will cause fast on-set hypoglycemia and the body begins to shut down. 

Fluoride

Another important ingredient for removing plaque on human teeth, fluoride will cause serious and severe stomach issues. This will eventually lead to issues with the urinary tract and can even cause seizures and heart problems.  Plus, dogs are unable to spit out the foam, so they tend to have nasal problems, too.

Baking soda

The last active ingredient in toothpaste is baking soda. This is a very acidic substance and, like fluoride, will expand into a foam in the mouth. It will expand in the stomach once he swallows it and it will create serious gassiness as well as muscle spasms and even seizures. As well, baking soda can cause an electrolyte imbalance in dogs, and this can create a lot of problems for energy and hydration. 

What happens if a dog eats toothpaste?

If a dog eats toothpaste, he will start to have issues with his nasal passages and mouth. Xylitol poisoning (aka a fancy term of toothpaste overdose) takes the appearance of coughing, sneezing, drooling, and excessive panting. From there, it travels down to his tummy and will foam up, causing acid problems and gassiness which will make its way through his digestive tract and make him especially prone to diarrhea and more.  He’ll eventually poop it out.

However, the danger of eating toothpaste is the power of the active ingredients above. These don’t just pass harmlessly through his system. They can cause sugar levels to crash, the liver to shut down, the stomach to be eaten through from acid.  And those are just the bigger ticket items to worry about…!

When a dog eats toothpaste, he’ll often try to vomit and he may be successful.  You can expect him to have the shakes, suddenly seem disoriented and weak, and often have a seizure or several, one after the other. From there, he can become comatose as his body’s organs start to shut down and from there….well, you get it.   Not a pretty picture even in the best of times. 

Can a dog survive eating xylitol?

Despite feeling terrified every time your doggo looks in the general direction of toothpaste, now, take a moment to remember this fact: a single lick of toothpaste doesn’t necessarily spell out a death sentence for your dog. No, seriously. Read that again.

A dog can survive eating xylitol.  However, his chances of having no complications are very slim. Most of it comes down to figuring out much got into his system. As far as amounts are concerned, the long and short of it is that a dog can have serious, long-lasting health problems from eating less than 0.03 oz (1g) of xylitol. That’s a minuscule amount, agreed.  Anything more than that can technically be enough to kill a dog due to the onset of hypoglycemia, the shutdown of the liver, and even a coma.

How long does it take for xylitol poisoning symptoms to show up?

A lot of it will depend on the size of your dog and how much toothpaste he ate. however, poisoning symptoms (shaking, vomiting, disorientation, etc) will show up anywhere from 10-60 minutes from the time he’s eaten it. It’s important to make you don’t wait for symptoms to show up, though. As soon as you’ve discovered that he’s chomped his way into a tube of toothpaste, grab him and get into a car to get to your vet (take the toothpaste with you, too).  

How to treat a dog poisoned by toothpaste

Feeling shaky and panicky?  Yeah, we get it. The thing is, there’s no sugar-coating this kind of thing: a dog can be easily poisoned by toothpaste and it is almost always very serious, if not fatal.  If you’ve discovered that he’s helped himself to your toothpaste, here are the steps to take. 

Wipe his mouth, paws, etc 

Grab the nearest piece of fabric and wipe down his nose, snout, paws, mouth, tongue, anything and everything that has the smallest amount of toothpaste on it. Get it wet and repeat it as much as you can. Be very thorough and make sure your dog listens to you to stay still, drop it, etc.

Call a vet

Immediately call your vet and let them know that he’s eaten toothpaste. They’ll often expect you to give information on how much toothpaste he’s eaten, what symptoms he’s showing, and what kind of toothpaste it was (ie: sugar-free, kid’s toothpaste, toothpaste with charcoal, etc).  

Take your dog to the vet

The majority of the time — if not always, your vet will ask you to bring him for a check-up immediately. This often will bring an emergency charge, which can be hard on the budget, but if they are recommending that you bring them in, there’s a very good reason or it. When you go in, bring the toothpaste tube with you in case they are looking for specific information that you can’t remember off-hand.

He’ll get some bloodwork

The first thing that you can expect is a full panel, comprehensive blood test. This is going to check his blood sugar levels.  This will tell your vet whether he has hypoglycemia and how serious and severe it is. 

The bloodwork will also watch for potassium and phosphate deficiency. These are often related to an issue with the liver (which will need more testing to see if the liver’s function is impacted). 

Induced vomiting and close monitoring

If the bloodwork shows that he is dealing with a moderate to a severe cause of xylitol poisoning, you can expect your vet to induce vomiting. This is a hard process for most pet parents to watch, but it’s crucial to helping your dog get as much out of his system as possible.

Once this is done, even if he hasn’t shown any “serious” symptoms such as disorientation or seizing, he will be hooked up to IV fluids which are intended to level out his blood glucose levels and more. This means that he’ll be kept overnight and often will be sent for more comprehensive testing.

Wait and see

Okay, so this is hard. But, it’s the truth. If the vet can stabilize the hypoglycemia in time and help the body recover from it, your dog can usually recover with a few days at the vet and all sorts of check-ups after to see how he’s doing. 

If his liver has failed, however, this is where things get bad. Liver failure can be corrected, but it often takes a lot of time, treatment, and a lifetime of pills for your dog’s liver to function normally. In many cases, even with these measures, he’ll start to have serious liver problems that could end in premature death.

Let’s pause for a moment

Okay, so that was a lot. Need to go snuggle your doggo?  It’s okay, we do too!  However, all of this is stuff you want to know now rather than later, right?  The more you know, the more you can prevent, and it will definitely help curb heartbreak later on. Feeling better?  Okay, let’s keep going.

Dog looking sick near toothpaste

Do other food products have xylitol in them?

Unfortunately, many other food and healthcare products have xylitol in them. That’s because this is actually an artificial sweetener and it’s used in a lot of things in our modern-day and world. Any time you see that “sugar-free” or “no sugar added” advertisement, sure enough, xylitol is there in the ingredients. It’s a sugar-free sweetener and it is used to help sweeten the taste of everything from soda to, yup, toothpaste.  Some of the most common examples are peanut butter, cough syrup, vitamins, and mouthwash. And toothpaste, of course. But you already knew that. 

How to keep your dog safe from xylitol poisoning 

As we said, knowledge and understanding will be crucial to all those who are looking to help make sure that their dog stays safe and sound from the scary xylitol. If you want some tips to help you with that, here are some of the most productive and easy options out there. 

Teach your dog the “drop it” command

Dogs love to please their masters.  If you train them to “drop it” to anything at all in their mouths, this guarantees that if you catch your doggo with a tube of toothpaste in his mouth, he’ll drop it when you tell him too instead of greedily try to gobble it up before you can stop him. 

Never let your dog eat human food or take any kind of food from you

This is a hard one, we know. But dogs who think they are entitled to anything they want will help themselves. Don’t make it worse by offering him table scraps and other goodies from you. Giving treats for training and good behavior is fine, but nothing else!  It also prevents him from accidentally eating anything poisonous by mistake that you give him unknowingly. 

Keep toothpaste, mouthwash, cough syrup and more tucked away

Anything that you know definitely has xylitol in it should be tucked into a cupboard or somewhere else where it is secure and away from little humans and dogs, both!  Yes, it means a few extra steps to get them, but it will mean that everyone stays safe.

Try not to leave your dog unsupervised

Okay, so we all leave our dogs unsupervised, but you should try to at least always have them in your sight when “dangerous” items (such as toothpaste wand chocolate) are nearby to make sure that he doesn’t get access to them. The more that you can do to prevent him from having a disastrous and heartbreaking snack, the better, right?

The most important thing to take from this topic is this: Toothpaste is one of the worst things that your doggo could eat. Do everything you can to keep it out of reach of your dog and if you do know that he’s eaten either a little bit or a lot, time is of the essence.

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