Ingredients to Avoid in Dog and Cat Toothpaste, Oral Rinse and Dental Chews

Choosing a Good Toothpaste and Oral Rinse for Your Dog an Cat

Brushing your dog’s and cat's teeth on a daily basis, or at least several times a week; and or use of an oral rinse on your dog’s or cat's mouth is a task that you hope will help to maintain your companion animals good health...but what if the product you are using contains ingredients that are toxic and carcinogenic? Do you know how to identify bad ingredients? This article will help you make informed decisions dental hygiene products.

Never Use Oral Health Products Intended for Human Use

Never use toothpaste or liquid oral care products intended for use by humans to clean your dog’s teeth/mouth as products intended for human use typically contain substances that are toxic for dogs. Only use commercially produced oral care products that are specifically made for dogs. But please don’t fall for the attractive packages and eye-catching words ‘natural’, ‘safe’, etc…

Don’t Trust the Advertising / Label

You may already be brushing your dog’s teeth or providing him/her with dental chews or liquid oral care as an insurance against periodontal disease…but did you know that many of these products that are sold in pet stores and/or on-line are full of ingredients that are not good for your dog?

Sure these products may help remove plaque and tartar but if the preventative you are using is full of additives and toxins - you are inadvertently creating another health hazard. The drastic increase in cancer found in dogs is a direct result of all of the carcinogenic additives and toxins in a dog’s daily environment and food.

Just because a product is labelled and advertised as ‘safe’ or ‘all natural’ does not mean that it is. Currently, the legislation (particularly in North America) defining ‘natural’ as pertains to ingredients (used in human and animal food, health care and cleaning products) is not designed to protect the consumer - the definition of ‘natural’ is very loosely defined in favor of the manufacturing industry. 

So, before you decide to purchase a product do a little research - read the ingredients, make sure the product is truly safe. Below is a list of ingredients you DO NOT want in your dog’s dental treatment products…

What to Avoid in Commercially Made Dental Care Products for Dogs

Artificial Colouring Agents and Artificial Flavouring
 For example FD&C Blue No. 1 or Blue 1. Artificial colouring agents are carcinogens, may be contaminated with heavy metals that are toxic to the brain,
cause numerous health issues such as bladder cancer, brain tumors and the inability to concentrate. Also included - artificial colouring agents and additives such as glycerol monostearate, phosphoric acid and propylene glycol (this is used in antifreeze - antifreeze kills dogs!).

BHA, BHT, EQ (ethoxyquin), Propyl Gallate 
Artificial preservatives, endocrine disruptors, carcinogens. Look for products that contain ‘natural preservatives’ and antioxidants such as Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and mixed tocopherols specified as sourced from non-GMO oils only. Vitamin E and mixed tocopherols that are not noted as non-GMO are toxic and carcinogenic.

Corn, Gluten, Soy, Corn
Used as a filler. These are inflammatory substances to dogs and cats - even if sourced from organic plants. Corn, soy and their derivitives are the number one trigger for allergies in out companion animals. Making matters worse, the majority of corn and soy in North America are grown from Genetically Engineered (GE) seeds, resulting in genetically modified organisims (GMO). TAll of the long-term affects of eating GMO derived products is not known - GMO corn has been proven to cause the growth of tumors. For more information on the serious adverse affects of corn and soy on your dog and cat - go here.

DEA Related Ingredients - also MEA and TEA
These are used to make products such as soap and toothpaste foam, these ingredients are suspected carcinogens;

Fluoride is considered a toxin and too much can cause skeletal fluorosis resulting in joint pain, limited range of movement, brittle bones and a high rate of fracture

Gelatin and Stearic Acid
An animal by-product derived from rendering miscellaneous animal parts such as bone, cartilage, ligaments, skin, etc. - typically sourced from animals raised in confined animal feeding operations (CAFO). The body parts from these animals are very high in toxic and carcinogenic residues, including antibiotics, growth hormones, herbicides - for more information go here.

Hydrogenated Starch Hydrolysate (HSH)
Artificial sweetener, sugar alcohol that is not good for dogs, toxin;

Parabens are used as a preservative. Parabens are a suspected endocrine disruptor, interfere with hormone production and are suspected carcinogens;

Saturated or Trans Fat
These fats are sourced from rancid fats and oil by products that are not sold for human consumption. May be from 4-D animals. Unhealthy at best, toxic and suspected carcinogen at worst.  

Sodium Laureth Sulphate and other ingredients with the letters ‘eth’
Used to make products foam, suspected carcinogen;

Sorbitol is used as a preservative and is a sugar alcohol sweetener used in toothpaste. Although it does not cause tooth decay it is a laxative and can have many other negative side affects. Sugar alcohols are seriously bad for dogs and can cause mild to severe health problems and death.

Soy Protein Isolate
Allergen, suspected carcinogen and derivative of GMO product;

Sugar causes tooth decay, suppresses the immune system - making it easier for diseases to attack your dog’s body. Sweeteners also cause of allergies, arthritis, cataracts, hypoglycaemia, heart ailments, nervous energy, obesity, etc. 

Propyl Gallate
Preservative, carcinogenic;

Tin (II) Fluoride also known as Stanous Flouride
Used to make tooth enamel more resistant to damaging bacteria. Tin can cause anemia, skin and eye irritation, kidney and liver problems, stomach aches, cancer and ultimately death.

Suspected endocrine disruptor and may contribute to antibiotic resistance;

An artificial sweetener that can cause liver damage and death.

Now That You Know What to Avoid

You can choose a good commercially made oral care product for your dog. You can also make your own natural, herbal and homeopathic oral health care products for your dog.

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  1. Thanks a lot for your post. It was just the information I needed! I hope you can solve my question, though... I'm about to buy a dental wipe for my cats and dogs and the ingredients listed are: Chlorhexadine Gluconate 0.1%, water, glycerine, mint scent and colorant. I looked the products and read about them some positive and not so positive things but most of them look safe. Still, I'm unsure. Also, you did mentioned colorant. I hope you could tell me whether you think they're infact safe or not. I'm just starting to take care of my pets' dental hygiene (I know, I know) and I'm a little lost. Thank you in advance.

    1. My sincere advice is don't buy that dental wipe!

      Chlorhexadine Gluconate possible side effects:
      Blistering, burning, itching, peeling, skin rash, redness, swelling, or other signs of irritation on the skin, swelling of the face, paws, trouble breathing.


      In clinical trials, 56% of chlorhexidine oral rinse users had a measurable increase in staining of teeth, and 15% experienced heavy staining. Stains may generally be removed by conventional professional prophylactic techniques. Staining of rough areas may be permanent. Stains are general dark brown to blackish.Staining will be more pronounced in the presence of heavier accumulations of unremoved plaque.

      Gastrointestinal side effects have been reported the most frequently with chlorhexidine oral rinses. These have included staining of teeth and tongue, increased calculus formation, alteration of taste perception, bitter taste, burning, numbness, dryness, and soreness. Aphthous ulcer, grossly obvious gingivitis, trauma, ulceration, erythema, desquamation, coated tongue, keratinization, geographic tongue, mucocele, and short frenum have been reported rarely with chlorhexidine oral rinses. Gastrointestinal side effects associated with chlorhexidine oral rinses without oral hygiene measures have included increased gingival bleeding.

      And there is more -I will not list them all but can also cause nervous system and ocular damage.

      I would recommend that you adopt one or more of the solutions offered in this article

      Cheers, Karen :>)

      Chlorhexadine Gluconate is only effective on some types of tartar.

    2. Thank you for the advice and for replying. I will have to adopt one of the solutions you offered.

  2. I just bought petkins invisible formula liquid oral care. The ingredients are water, baking soda, glycerine, zinc gluconate, cetylpyridinium chloride, aloe vera gel, baking soda, potassium sorbate, methylparaben, and malic acid. I was just wondering if any of these invgredients are harmful to dogs.

    1. The product ingredients include several toxins and carcinogens, including GMO derived ingredients.


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Important Note

1.0 Use of Foods, Herbs, Alternative Medicines:

Safe use of items and protocols in the article above, is your sole responsibility.

Foods, herbs and alternative medicines have health issue, condition and conventional drug interactions. Safe use of all substances and protocol are your responsibility.

Before you use any substance or protocol do your research. Check for cautions, contradictions, interactions and side effects. Do not use substances or protocols not suitable to your animal's individual circumstances.

If your animal has an underlying condition substances and protocols may conflict.

2.0 Definition of Holistic…

Food, herbs, alternative medicines are NOT ‘holistic’ they are a substance and MAY, or may NOT be ‘NATURAL’.

If you use a ‘natural’ substance (ie. an herb) you are using a natural substance, not a holistic substance.

Holistic is not defined by use of one or several substances. Holistic is an approach.

Definition of “holistic” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press


"relating to the whole of something or to the total system instead of just to its parts"

"Holistic medicine attempts to treat the whole person, including mind and body, not just the injury or disease."

Holistic is a way of approaching life, and within that health, and well-being.

3.0 Expectation a natural substance remedies a health or behavioral situation.

A natural substance used to treat symptoms. But, if factors causing the underlying issue remain you do not have a remedy.

Remedy requires a comprehensive approach. It is necessary to identify root cause. Remove items that trigger, cause or otherwise contribute to issues. Holistic approach includes design, implementation to treat, remedy and maintain long-term health.

4.0 Leave a Comment

I review all comments and publish those deemed appropriate for this site.

I answer questions deemed appropriate when I have time to do so.

Karen Rosenfeld
Holistic Diet Nutrition Wellness Practitioner – Dogs and Cats
Holistic Behaviorist - Dogs
Ottawa Valley Dog Whisperer

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