Can Dogs Use Human Toothpaste?

groomer brushing dog teeth
Aquarius Studio/

Written by Amber LaRock

Updated: September 3, 2023

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Dental health is something that is often glossed over when it comes to our canine companions. However, dogs can suffer from dental pain and infections just like humans. Many vets will instruct you to brush your dog’s teeth a minimum of four times per week. Once you are on board with caring for your dog’s dental health, you will need the proper supplies!

You may wonder if you can use the same human toothpaste that you brush with each day. While human toothpaste does the job for us, it should never be used on dogs. We break down everything you need to know below!

Why Should I Brush My Dog’s Teeth?

One of the best ways to eliminate or prevent bad breath in your pooch is periodically brushing her teeth.

Let’s first discuss why tooth brushing is so important for dogs in the first place. We encourage you to look at your dog’s dental health similarly to your own. Our canine companions can suffer from many of the same dental complications that we can.

If you do not brush your dog’s teeth at least four times per week, plaque will build up. The plaque will harden into tarter within 48 hours of being formed. This thick layer of film can no longer be removed with tooth brushing. The presence of plaque will cause bacteria to collect on the surface of the teeth and around the gums, which creates the perfect environment for a dental infection. Tooth and gum infections are incredibly painful for our pups. In addition, these bacteria can enter their bloodstream and cause systemic complications.

Brushing your dog’s teeth is the most effective way to prevent dental disease in your beloved pet. If you brush your pup’s teeth every other day, you can prevent the formation of tartar buildup. This will help to prevent any dental or gum infections down the line. Brushing your dog’s teeth can also cut down on professional dental cleanings required down the line, ultimately helping you save money!

Can Dogs Use Human Toothpaste?

groomer brushing dog teeth

Human toothpaste should never be used on dogs.

Now that you’re aware of the importance of doggie dental care, it’s time to gather your dog’s dental care supplies. You may wonder if you can simply reach for your tube of human toothpaste and get to work. However, you should never use human toothpaste on dogs. We know that we should not swallow our toothpaste when brushing, but dogs do not know this. For this reason, you must only use toothpaste created with dog safety in mind. We break down why human toothpaste is dangerous to dogs in detail below!

Why Is Human Toothpaste Dangerous for Dogs?

The ingredients are not dangerous if they simply come into contact with canine teeth. However, they pose a threat to dog health when swallowed. As humans, we know not to swallow our toothpaste, but we cannot stop our dogs from swallowing it. Swallowing is a natural response in dogs. Human toothpaste contains ingredients that can make a dog sick when ingested.

Most human toothpastes will contain an ingredient called xylitol, which is an artificial sweetener that is incredibly toxic to dogs. Xylitol can cause a deadly drop in a dog’s blood sugar. This can lead to the onset of seizures if the dog does not receive immediate vet care. Xylitol ingestion in dogs can even lead to permanent liver damage and death in unlucky pups, which is why it is an ingredient that your pup should never have access to.

Even if your human toothpaste does not contain xylitol, it will likely contain high levels of sodium. These high sodium levels can cause a major disturbance in your dog’s digestive tract. It can ultimately lead to symptoms like diarrhea and vomiting. Overall, using human toothpaste in your dog’s dental care routine is just not worth it.

Is There a Toothpaste for Dogs?

A corgi smiles while getting its teeth brushed.

There are many types of dog toothpaste that you can use to clean your dog’s teeth.

Thankfully for the canine friends in our life, there are many types of dog toothpaste! These forms of toothpaste are created specifically for dogs, so you do not have to worry about your pup swallowing any harmful ingredients. Dog toothpaste is also flavored to appeal to dogs, and is available in flavors ranging from chicken to peanut butter. These pastes are safer for dogs to consume than human toothpaste, and much more enjoyable for them as well!

If you need some help finding the best dog toothpaste, we compiled a list of our favorite dog toothpaste options. Each toothpaste option is perfectly safe for your pup to consume, and they sport delicious flavors your pup will love. Before you know it, your dog’s tooth-brushing routine will turn into a fun reward!

If you need guidance on how to best care for your dog’s teeth, check out our dog teeth cleaning guide!

Final Thoughts

Never use human toothpaste for your dog. Instead, choose from the many dog toothpaste options in our product guide above. By making your dog’s dental care a priority, you can prevent painful dental complications down the line!

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About the Author

Amber LaRock is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering topics surrounding pet health and behavior. Amber is a Licensed Veterinary Technician with 12 years of experience in the field, and she holds a degree in veterinary technology that she earned in 2015. A resident of Chiang Mai, Thailand, Amber enjoys volunteering with animal rescues, reading, and taking care of her two cats.

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