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Can Cats Eat Toothpaste? Risks & Precautions

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	Dr. Lorna Whittemore Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Lorna Whittemore


The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Toothpaste is an extremely common personal care item found in most homes and even some handbags and briefcases. If your beloved feline has found their way into your trusty dental care products, you might be wondering if toothpaste can be harmful to cats.

Most types of toothpaste, including those often marketed as natural, contain fluoride, which is potentially fatal to cats. It’s simply never safe to allow your cat to consume any amount of fluoride-containing human toothpaste. And if your cat has done so, it’s time to contact your vet.

While you might not need to head straight to the vet if your cat takes a lick of non-fluoridated toothpaste, it’s simply best to take active steps to prevent your feline friend from ingesting any human dental care product and never use human toothpaste to brush your cat’s teeth Let’s learn more about why cats shouldn’t eat toothpaste and if there’s any kind of toothpaste that is safe for cats.

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How Much Toothpaste Is Too Much?

The fatal dose of fluoride for a cat is 5-10 mg/kg, but your cat can begin showing distress after consuming as little as 1 mg/kg. (Most toothpaste contains about 1.3mg/quarter teaspoon)

Signs of fluoride poisoning include vomiting, weakness, restlessness, and difficulty breathing. Problems typically show up in the first 2 hours after ingestion and veterinarians consider fluoride poisoning an emergency warranting immediate medical treatment.

Cat vomiting
Image Credit: Tunatura, Shutterstock

What About Xylitol?

Some natural toothpastes that don’t contain fluoride do feature xylitol, an artificial sweetener, to improve the taste. Although xylitol is toxic to dogs, it shouldn’t harm your cat in small amounts. But, that still doesn’t mean that you should let your cat eat it. It just means that you generally don’t have to worry unless your cat eats a significant amount of toothpaste containing xylitol.

If your pet gives a fluoride-free product a lick and doesn’t show any symptoms such as lethargy or vomiting, you probably don’t have to worry about visiting the emergency vet. But make sure to review the ingredients of whatever product your cat ingested, just to make sure there’s nothing potentially harmful in what your kitty just consumed.

Why Do Cats Eat Toothpaste?

Most cats aren’t naturally drawn to the smell or taste of toothpaste. And mint is actually poisonous to cats, so most tend to simply avoid the plant and items that smell like it. Most types of toothpaste have some kind of minty smell. Some cats, however, don’t seem terribly bothered by the fresh and minty scent and eat a bit of toothpaste out of curiosity. Others inadvertently get toothpaste on their fur, which they wind up ingesting as they attempt to clean up. But, most cats will naturally avoid toothpaste.

cat brushing teeth
Image Credit: cynoclub, Shutterstock

Can Cats Consume Dog Toothpaste?

Absolutely. Cats can consume most kinds of veterinary toothpaste. And since there’s no big difference between feline and canine toothpaste, it’s safe for your cat to consume. There’s no reason to panic if your cat swallows a small amount of your dog’s toothpaste,

What Toothpaste Is Safe for Cats?

Cat toothpaste! Yes, it exists. The safest way to care for your favorite feline’s dental health is to use toothpaste explicitly designed for cats.

These specialty products come in cat-friendly flavors such as chicken, beef, malt and fish. Specially formulated for cats, these products don’t contain toxic ingredients such as fluoride or too much sodium.

There are even spray products and drops you can add to your cat’s food to improve your cat’s dental health if your friend simply refuses to cooperate when it comes to getting their teeth brushed.

While veterinary toothpastes are safe for your cat, they are not intended to be used as treats or eaten in large quantities. There are tons of crunchy treats developed with feline nutritional needs in mind that can help keep your cat’s teeth in top shape while also providing your furry friend with a tempting, reasonably healthy, and tasty goody.

calico cat having treats
Image Credit: Andriy Blokhin, Shutterstock

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Final Thoughts

Human toothpaste is not good for cats, regardless of whether they accidentally ingest it or you’re using it to brush your cat’s teeth. Most toothpastes contain fluoride that is toxic to your cat, especially in large amounts. Toothpastes that are designed for dogs and cats are the only type of toothpaste that won’t hurt your cat, and although your cat still shouldn’t really eat cat-safe toothpaste, it’s okay if he does ingest some.

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Featured Image: Leah-Anne Thompson, Shutterstock