Although dog toothpaste expires, it’s not harmful or toxic to use on your dog past the expiration date. The only downside to using expired toothpaste is that the ingredients are no longer active, which means the expired dog toothpaste won’t be as effective. Still, it’s better than nothing!
Oral hygiene is critical to the health and wellbeing of your dog. Unfortunately for us, regular brushing is not a walk in the park for our dogs.
Ideally, it would be best to brush your dog’s teeth once per day, using a toothbrush and toothpaste specially designed for dogs. Like human toothpaste, dog toothpaste has a recommended shelf life. Look around on the tube (typically near the bottom seam) or on the box to see when the manufacturer suggests using the toothpaste by.
Your pet probably won’t become sick if you use expired toothpaste. However, the ingredients are not active anymore, and it will not be as effective as before. While expired toothpaste is not harmful to your pet, it is not as effective either.
What Kind of Toothpaste Should I Use On My Dog?
The most common option for doggy toothpaste enzymatic toothpaste. This means that the toothpaste has an enzyme in it that generates hydrogen peroxide while being used. Hydrogen peroxide fights plaque and tartar while reducing bacteria to prevent more plaque and tartar from occurring.
Enzymatic toothpaste does not foam, so it’s safe for your dog to swallow when you are done brushing their teeth. The enzymes continue to work once you are finished as the leftover toothpaste mixes with your dog’s saliva.
While enzymatic toothpastes turn into hydrogen peroxide in your dog’s mouth, regular hydrogen peroxide is not a suitable substitute for toothpaste. Like ipecac syrup, hydrogen peroxide from the bottle induces vomiting in dogs with as little as a teaspoon, so don’t use it as a household substitute for toothpaste.
A popular choice of enzymatic toothpaste for dogs is the Virbac CET. This toothpaste comes in several flavors to suit your pet’s palate, like beef, malt, poultry, seafood, and vanilla mint.
This toothpaste works quickly to remove plaque and prevent tartar while killing bacteria and does not foam so your dog can swallow it when you are finished.
Petsmile, another toothpaste brand, is approved by the Veterinary Oral Health Council and works to remove plaque and stains, treat bad breath, and prevent tartar.
What sets this choice apart is that it can be applied using only your finger, making it easy to use for dogs who are not fans of having a toothbrush in their mouth, but will tolerate their owner’s hand.
This toothpaste is made up of 100% human-grade ingredients (although you probably don’t want to try it!) and is free from gluten, paraben, silica, sulfate, and animal byproducts.
You can also make your own toothpaste at home. Mix one tablespoon of baking soda with one tablespoon of water or beef/chicken broth for flavor. Mix thoroughly and do not add more baking soda as this can upset your dog’s stomach. Making your own toothpaste is a great option if you are concerned about expiration dates.
Don’t Use Your Own Toothpaste
Never use your own toothpaste for your dog. Many of the ingredients in our toothpaste are extremely harmful to dogs.
For example, xylitol is toxic to dogs and causes vomiting, diarrhea, even liver damage. Fluoride found in human toothpaste is also toxic to pets. Keep the Crest and Colgate away from your four-legged friend!
When brushing your pet’s teeth, only use a pea-sized amount. Using extra toothpaste will not increase the benefits, and consumption of too much toothpaste can give your dog an upset stomach.
Only use the recommended amount each time you brush–do not attempt to make up for lost time by using more product. Keep the toothpaste out of reach from your dog if it is something they like the flavor of.
How Do I Brush My Dog’s Teeth?
After choosing the best toothpaste for your pet, it is time to start brushing! You’ll also need a toothbrush or finger brush designed for dogs.
Spend a few minutes each day petting your dog’s muzzle and gently lifting their lip to get them used to the idea of you being in their mouth. Praise your dog as you go and reward them with treats.
Next, move on to gently running your finger over your dog’s teeth. If this step bothers them, discontinue and return to the previous one.
If you notice that one particular tooth seems to hurt when you touch it, tell your vet about it on the next visit. Continue to praise and reward for your dog tolerating this type of manipulation.
Slowly work up the amount of time your dog allows you to spend with your hands in their mouth until you can do this for long enough to brush their teeth.
Introduce a toothbrush in small increments as well, using gentle pressure to run it along your dog’s teeth. Put toothpaste on the toothbrush and allow your dog to lick a small amount off.
If your pet appears completely comfortable with these steps, start to actually brush their teeth. Use a gentle polishing motion on each tooth, focusing mainly on the outer surfaces.
It may help to introduce your dog to toothbrushing when they are tired from playtime, a walk, or a jog. It will be easier to get in there if their mouth is already open from panting!
Why Is Regular Brushing Such a Big Deal?
Plaque and Periodontal Disease
Regular brushing for your dog is necessary to prevent periodontal disease. The bacteria that builds up in your dog’s mouth causes plaque, a tough substance that sticks to the teeth, especially near the gum line.
This is not that different from what happens with humans–imagine how your mouth would look and smell if you never brushed your teeth!
The problem with plaque buildup for dogs is that their immune system attempts to eliminate it, which breaks down their gum tissue in the process. This breaks down the bone tissue of the teeth as well and can lead to infected teeth and gums–eventually needing extraction.
You may or may not notice these effects in your dog, as they are masters at hiding ailments. If you notice your dog is struggling to eat, has bright red bleeding gums, or leaves blood behind on their food or toys, call the vet for an oral health consultation.
Develop a Routine
The best way to avoid periodontal disease in your dog is prevention. Brush as often as possible–daily is ideal, but 2-3 times per week is also sufficient.
Take your dog to the vet annually for a cleaning and X-rays, which give a complete picture of what is going on in your dog’s mouth. If your dog refuses to allow you to brush your teeth, work with your veterinarian to develop a cleaning schedule to keep them healthy.
How Else Can Keep My Dog’s Teeth Healthy?
There are a variety of treats and toys to give your dog to chew on that help remove plaque and prevent tartar. These can be used in addition to a daily/weekly brushing routine, but they don’t replace brushing.
Dental Chew Choices
Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diet Dental Chewz are a vet-approved choice for preventing plaque and tartar. They have beef hide as their first ingredient, which is a great dental cleaner when given in small amounts. Keep a close eye on your dog while they enjoy these treats and take it away from them if the treat becomes too soft. You only want your dog to chew this, not swallow it.
Greenies Grain-Free Natural Dental Dog Treats are another popular choice. These treats are green and shaped like a toothbrush with grooves that work to get all the plaque off your dog’s teeth. These are designed to be fully consumed by your dog.
If you prefer a longer-lasting chew, you may consider a Nylabone Dura Chew XL. This chew does come in other sizes for small or medium-sized dogs. This chew is durable and comes in a variety of flavors for your dog to enjoy. This toy becomes more textured the more your dog chews, which makes it a thorough cleaning experience that does not need to be replaced often.
Using a toothbrush, toothpaste, and dental chews, as well as regular care from your veterinarian, will help keep your dog’s teeth shiny and healthy for a lifetime of chomping. Use a toothpaste your dog loves the flavor of and check the expiration date before use to be sure it will be effective. Happy brushing!
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