Dear Paws: Recently you advised against using human toothpaste to brush dogs’ teeth because, for one thing, the fluoride in toothpaste is toxic to them. With this in mind, what are the ramifications of dogs drinking fluoridated water? – Rich, via e-mail
Dear Rich: That’s an excellent question, and one that all pet owners should consider. About 67 percent of the U.S. population receive municipal drinking water with added fluoride, according to a 2012 Centers for Disease Control report.
Opinions on fluoride and its effect on people and pets tend to be fraught. It’s an emotional issue, for understandable reasons.And that can leave pet owners even more confused about what to do and whether they should be protecting their pets from tap water.
The Merck Manual of Pet Health details the effects of fluoride at toxic levels (for pets, that can be as low as 1 milligram per kilogram). But that does not address fluoride in water. If municipalities fluoridate their water, it is diluted at 0.7 parts per million, which is very small — but many people are concerned that those small amounts can build up in one’s system over time, causing long-term health effects.
For the short term, you can simply avoid giving pets tap water every day — use filtered or bottled water instead. But bottled water has its own set of issues (such as plastic filling up landfills) so, long-term, consider working on a bigger solution, like convincing water suppliers to stop fluoridating the supply.
How can you find out if your drinking water has added fluoride? Contact your local water utility provider and ask (the number is on your water and sewer bill). Or, check out the CDC My Water’s Fluoride website, which has fluoridation data supplied by 39 participating states.
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