Is Fluoride Safe for Your Pets?

By Linda Joy, MSW

As pet owners, we always strive to keep our furry friends healthy and safe. We pay close attention to their diet, exercise, and overall well-being. But have you ever considered the impact of fluoride on your pets’ health? While health officials assure us that fluoride is safe, it’s essential to investigate the facts and make an informed decision. In this article, we’ll explore the potential risks of fluoride for our beloved pets and discuss ways to minimize their exposure.

What is Fluoride and How Does it Affect Us?

Fluoride, also known as hydrofluorosilicic acid, is added to the majority of public water supplies in the United States. However, this chemical is not pharmaceutical-grade. It is a toxic industrial waste product containing contaminants like lead, arsenic, and radium. The question arises, is this chemical safe for consumption by both humans and pets?

The Health Risks of Fluoride

While we are assured of the safety of fluoride, studies suggest a different story. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has acknowledged that no chronic health studies have been conducted on this specific fluoride chemical. The National Research Council (NRC) completed a three-year review in 2006, highlighting adverse health risks associated with fluoride. These risks include disruption of the nervous and endocrine systems, bone fractures, joint pain, and even an increased risk of bone cancer.

Dogs, in particular, have a higher rate of osteosarcoma, the most common bone tumor diagnosed in canines. Researchers at Colorado State University are currently conducting an epidemiological study to understand the effects of fluoride on dogs. We eagerly await their findings to shed light on this important issue.

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Bathing and Swimming in Fluoridated Water

The question arises: is bathing or swimming in fluoridated water harmful to both humans and pets? While fluoride in highly acidic water can penetrate the skin, it remains unclear whether the same can occur in typical tap water, which has a neutral acidity. Nonetheless, because some studies suggest that fluoride can be absorbed through the skin, further research is necessary in this area.

The Challenge of Controlling Fluoride Dose

For both humans and pets, controlling the fluoride dose is a challenge. Water is typically fluoridated at 1 part per million (1 ppm), providing 1 mg of fluoride per liter of water. However, individuals who consume more water than the average person will ingest higher levels of fluoride, making them more susceptible to its toxic effects. The universal administration of fluoride without considering individual needs contradicts sound pharmacological principles and raises ethical concerns.

Additionally, fluoride can be found in processed foods and beverages, adding to the total fluoride intake in both humans and pets. Cereals, sodas, and even pesticide residues contain fluoride. The Centers for Disease Control reported that 32% of U.S. children have dental fluorosis, a permanent scarring of the teeth, due to excessive fluoride ingestion.

Little research has been conducted on the fluoride content of pet food, but some dog foods can contain high levels of fluoride. Could the symptoms of arthritis, spinal abnormalities, and other skeletal issues in dogs be linked to skeletal fluorosis? Veterinarians may not be aware of the potential impact of high fluoride levels on pets’ health. More research is needed to understand the implications fully.

Is Fluoridation Effective?

Contrary to popular belief, the “effectiveness” of fluoridation is more myth than science. Most European countries do not fluoridate their water supplies, yet their dental decay rates have decreased in line with those in fluoridated regions. Major U.S. cities such as Seattle, Chicago, Cincinnati, and Boston have been fluoridating for decades, but they still report high rates of tooth decay among children. Adequate dental care and a nutritious diet play a crucial role in reducing tooth decay, especially in low-income populations.

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The Call for Change

Many professionals and organizations have spoken out against water fluoridation. Dr. Hardy Limeback, a scientist on the prestigious panel of the National Research Council, believes that the evidence against fluoridation is now overwhelming. In fact, 11 U.S. EPA Unions representing over 7000 professional employees called for a nationwide moratorium on fluoridation and a congressional investigation in 2005.

Taking Action: Protecting Our Pets

To minimize fluoride exposure, it’s crucial to be proactive. Avoid drinking fluoridated water by using systems such as reverse osmosis, ion-exchange, or distillation to remove fluoride. Charcoal filters, unfortunately, do not eliminate fluoride. Additionally, when preparing formula for infants, use non-fluoridated water to prevent excessive fluoride intake.

Our pets also need protection from high fluoride levels in their food. If you feed your dog or cat commercial pet food, inquire about the fluoride content from the manufacturer. Although determining this information can be challenging, it’s worth the effort to ensure your pet’s well-being.

Educate and Advocate

Now that you are armed with knowledge, take the initiative to spread awareness about the potential risks of fluoride. Share this information with other pet owners, encouraging them to make informed decisions about their pets’ health. Together, we can make a difference and promote the well-being of our furry companions.

To learn more about fluoride and its impact, visit Katten TrimSalon. Stay informed and be proactive to protect your pets from potential dangers.


Linda Joy belongs to WA Action for Safe Water (WASW). WASW educates the community on fluoride’s toxicity, health risks, and effectiveness. For more information, contact her at