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Can Cats Eat Toothpaste? Risks & Precautions

Written by: Christian Adams

Last Updated on January 10, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

Can Cats Eat toothpaste

Can Cats Eat Toothpaste? Risks & Precautions


Dr. Lorna Whittemore Photo


Dr. Lorna Whittemore


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

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Toothpaste is a standard personal care item found in most homes and some handbags and briefcases. If your beloved feline has found their way into your 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 never safe to allow your cat to consume any amount of fluoride toothpaste. 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 best to prevent your feline friend from ingesting dental care products 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 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 contain xylitol, an artificial sweetener, to improve the taste. Although xylitol is toxic to dogs, it shouldn’t harm your cat in small amounts. However, that doesn’t mean you should let your cat eat it. It just means you 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 signs such as lethargy or vomiting, you probably don’t have to worry about visiting the emergency vet. However, make sure to review the ingredients of the product your cat ingested.

Why Do Cats Eat Toothpaste?

Most cats aren’t naturally drawn to the smell or taste of toothpaste, and mint is poisonous to cats, so most avoid the plant and items that smell like it. Some cats, however, don’t seem bothered by the fresh and minty scent and eat toothpaste out of curiosity. Others inadvertently get toothpaste on their fur, which they ingest as they attempt to clean up. Fortunately, most cats naturally avoid toothpaste.

cat brushing teeth
Image Credit: cynoclub, Shutterstock

Can Cats Consume Dog Toothpaste?

Cats can consume most kinds of veterinary toothpaste. Since there’s no 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 like chicken, beef, malt, and fish. They don’t contain toxic ingredients such as fluoride or too much sodium.

There are also spray products and drops you can add to your cat’s food if they refuse to cooperate when 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 keep your cat’s teeth in top shape while also providing a tasty snack.

calico cat having treats
Image Credit: Andriy Blokhin, Shutterstock

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Final Thoughts

Human toothpaste is not suitable for cats, regardless of whether they accidentally ingest it or you’re using it to brush your cat’s teeth. Most toothpastes contain fluoride, which is toxic to cats. 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 eat cat-safe toothpaste, it’s okay if they ingest some.

See Also:

Featured Image: Leah-Anne Thompson, Shutterstock

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