Toothpaste is a personal hygiene product that can be found in nearly every kitchen, bathroom, and even some purses and briefcases.
If your curious cat has discovered your toothpaste, you may be concerned about whether or not it is harmful to cats.
Cats can be poisoned by the fluoride found in most toothpastes, including “natural” brands.
Any amount of human toothpaste containing fluoride should never be given to a cat. And if you find out your cat has done this, it’s time to make an appointment with the vet.
Never use human toothpaste to brush your cat’s teeth, and if your cat accidentally ingests any human dental care product, seek veterinary attention. This is true even if your cat only ingests a small amount of fluoridated toothpaste.
Let’s investigate the reasons why cats shouldn’t ingest toothpaste and whether or not any brands are cat-friendly.
How Much Toothpaste Is Too Much?
Your cat may start showing signs of distress at a dose as low as 1 mg/kg of fluoride, with lethal doses ranging from 5-10 mg/kg. (About a quarter of a teaspoon of regular toothpaste has 1.3 milligrams.)
Fluoride poisoning manifests with nausea, vomiting, weakness, agitation, and respiratory distress. Veterinarians consider fluoride poisoning an emergency that needs immediate medical treatment because symptoms typically manifest within the first two hours after ingestion.
Why Toothpaste Is Dangerous To Cats
It Contains Xylitol
While it used to be the case that no brand of toothpaste included this artificial sweetener, that trend has since changed.
Manufacturers are increasingly turning to artificial sweeteners like xylitol in an effort to reduce the calorie content of their products.
Low doses of xylitol, sorbitol, and similar substances are generally considered safe for human consumption, especially in the short term.
There are not enough studies available to confirm xylitol’s toxicity for this species. Effects of per os (through the mouth) administered xylitol in cats is the most recent one, appearing in 2018.
There were no noteworthy changes in haematological or biochemical markers among the cats in the study.
Six cats were used for the study, but it is reasonable to conclude that xylitol poses less of a threat to cats than it does to dogs.
However, xylitol has the potential to harm a cat’s health in the long run, just like other artificial sweeteners.
Multiple studies have linked long-term exposure to some of these substances to an increased risk of cancer.
While xylitol ingestion in cats may not cause a rapid increase in blood sugar like it does in dogs, it can still cause a variety of unpleasant symptoms including gastrointestinal distress and even liver damage.
It Contains Fluoride
Cats should never be exposed to fluoride.
The fluoride content of human toothpaste is quite high, and cats are not supposed to consume that much of it.
Toxic levels of fluoride can develop in cats after they consume not only toothpaste, but also contaminated foods, pesticides, or rat poison (which cats may unwittingly consume when hunting or consuming small rodents).
Taking your cat to the vet immediately is the best course of action if she ingests any amount of toothpaste.
Could Eating Toothpaste Kill My Cat?
There are two variables involved.
The first is how much your cat actually consumes, as there is a small but potentially fatal amount of fluoride in the product.
The second factor is how quickly your pet will receive necessary medical care. If the cat is an adult and in otherwise good health, it has a good chance of recovering from this.
Kittens and elderly cats, both of which are more likely to experience quite severe symptoms after ingesting toothpaste due to existing health conditions, are particularly at risk.
What To Do If Your Cat Has Eaten Toothpaste?
Get them in to see a vet as soon as you can.
When dealing with fluoride poisoning, every minute counts, so if you find out your cat has eaten toothpaste, don’t waste any time getting to the vet.
The veterinarian has access to the appropriate diagnostic and treatment options.
Why Do Cats Eat Toothpaste?
Cats typically have no interest in the taste or smell of toothpaste.
Most cats will avoid anything that even remotely smells like mint because the plant is toxic to them. The minty scent of toothpaste is ubiquitous.
However, some cats don’t seem to mind the toothpaste’s minty freshness and may even try to taste it.
Some people get toothpaste on their fur and unwittingly ingest it while brushing it off. However, most cats will avoid using toothpaste out of instinct.
Can Cats Consume Dog Toothpaste?
Absolutely. Most veterinary toothpastes are safe for cats to swallow. Your cat can safely use human toothpaste because there is little difference between feline and canine formulations. If your cat accidentally ingests some of your dog’s toothpaste, don’t freak out.
What Toothpaste Is Safe for Cats?
Pet dental care! In a word, yes. Using toothpaste made specifically for cats is the most risk-free option for maintaining your cat’s dental health.
These specialized items are available in tasty cat-pleasing flavors like chicken, beef, malt, and fish. These items are made with cat safety in mind, so they don’t have any potentially harmful ingredients like fluoride or excess sodium.
If your feline friend absolutely refuses to let you brush their teeth, you can always improve their oral hygiene by using spray products or drops that you add to their food.
Even though veterinary toothpastes are completely safe for your cat, you shouldn’t give them to him as treats or let him eat too much of them. You can give your cat a tasty treat while also helping to maintain good oral hygiene by giving it one of the many crunchy treats made specifically for cats.
Human Toothpaste Alternatives For Cats
Your interest in your cat’s oral health is understandable and warranted.
Cats with poor oral hygiene have a greater risk of developing heart diseases as they age.
It is your responsibility to brush your cat’s teeth at least once every two to three days, and preferably every day, to prevent periodontal disease.
However, the tingling and minty flavor of human toothpaste isn’t pleasant to cats, so stock up on something more feline-friendly.
Neither xylitol nor excessive fluoride levels are present in these items, and more importantly, they do not have any flavors that would be offensive to cats.
That means your cat will be easier to persuade to participate in regular dental care.
Another option is to use a water additive (typically marketed as “mouthwash”) in your cat’s water.
The likelihood of plaque and tartar buildup on the cat’s teeth is typically drastically reduced by using these products. Some, like the ProDen PlaqueOff Cat Powder for Bad Breath & Tartar, are also available in powder form, which can be sprinkled on your cat’s dry or wet food to help keep their teeth and gums clean.
Whether your cat ingests it accidentally or you use it to brush its teeth, human toothpaste is not good for it. Fluoride, which is found in nearly all toothpastes, can be fatal to cats if ingested in sufficient quantities.
Only pet-specific toothpastes are safe for consumption by cats and dogs; however, it is still not recommended that you feed your cat toothpaste meant for dogs and cats.