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My dog ate toothpaste. How harmful is that?

Young beagle standing on a sandy beach, near the water's edge with small waves in background.

Beagle on the beach. (Photo: Flickr/Don Burkett)

My dog ate toothpaste. How harmful is that?

July 24, 2013

Q: My dog Rosey bit into a small sample of toothpaste and also a half tube of small hemorrhoid suppositories (Tucks). She is a small (25 pounds) beagle, about 3 years old. She is breathing fine but lethargic. Do I need to take her to a vet in the morning (7 hours) or sooner?

A: The only concern I would have about the toothpaste is whether it contains the artificial sweetener xylitol, which is toxic to dogs. If Rosey only bit into the sample, however, it would be unlikely that even if xylitol were present that she could have ingested enough to be worrisome.

The Tucks product, which contains 51% starch as its active ingredient, is non-toxic. Starch (sugar) acts as a protectant of irritated rectal tissues in these products. The inactive ingredients -- benzyl alcohol, lecithin, partially hydrogenated palm kernel oil, tocopheryl acetate -- are all nontoxic at the levels in the Tucks but might cause mild gastrointestinal distress when ingested and perhaps are responsible for Rosey's lethargy.

I would expect Rosey to normalize within 24 hours and you should be able to avoid a vet visit. Administering an over-the-counter antacid such as famotidine (Pepcid) at 1/4 of a 10mg tablet should afford Rosey relief. Omeprazole (Prilosec) at 20mg given once is a good alternative.

The toothpaste is of no concern. It's formulated knowing that some will inevitably become ingested.

-- Answer from Dr. Michael Salkin, a veterinarian on JustAnswer.

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