Is alcohol in dog dental sprays a good or bad thing? When this question became part of the national conversation for mainstream dog and cat lovers, the truth of the matter became clear... clearly divided that is.
Manufacturers of cat and dog dental care products as well as the consumers who buy them put forth valid arguments both for and against the question. Here is a look at both sides of the issue.
The two top manufacturers of pet oral care sprays, as their respective labels reveal, add 25% straight grain alcohol (ethanol) to their well-known products. This is equal to a 1.25 ounce straight shot of whiskey. The reasons for doing so are two-fold and completely valid, at least from a business point of view.
It's good business sense
First, in manufacturing circles, alcohol is as common as water and cheap as dirt. Adding pennies worth of an ingredient to a product that can retail for $20 to $30 a copy is just good business sense. As profits increase, shareholders get big dividend checks and masses of consumers become convinced the products are harmless because more money goes into buying more advertising to convince them. As the saying goes, the more you tell the more you sell.
A second point in favor of using alcohol in cat and dog oral care sprays also goes to profitability. Alcohol is, after all, an excellent preservative. By mixing their products to the equivalent of a 50 proof cocktail, the Big Alcohol boys can turn out tens of thousands of bottles at a time, bringing manufacturing costs to a minimum. Warehousing costs are cheaper than small-batch manufacturing costs. Finished products can sit stockpiled in pallets, waiting for market distribution for 1 to 5 years before going out to consumers. This practice maximizes corporate profits.
But at what cost?
Fortunately, there is a growing school of thought among responsible dog and cat lovers that places animals ahead of corporations. Starting at the top is the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) who warns us simply, "Alcohol, even in small amounts, is harmful to dogs and cats." No mincing of words from the foremost authority against animal cruelty, but let's look into a few of the medical reasons to learn why.
When a dog or cat (or human) ingests alcohol, changes in blood chemistry begin immediately. Total body acid surges and, over time, alcoholic ketoacidosis (AKA), an acute metabolic acidosis can occur. What is merely an annoying hangover to a human can become a matter of life and death to a dog or cat.
"Your dog is much smaller than you," says holistic veterinarian Dr. Andrew Jones, DVM, "and so is much more susceptible to the poisonous effects of alcohol, including death."
What puts dogs and cats at even more risk is, unlike in humans, the inability to metabolize alcohol. "Alcohol depresses the brain function in dogs and can send them into a coma," says National Geographic in its special Canine Taboos. "Dogs are not equipped with the protective enzymes that allow humans to imbibe reasonable amounts of alcohol without harm. And because most dogs are smaller than humans and are more sensitive to alcohol, it does not take a lot to cause serious problems."
Symptoms of alcohol toxicity in cats and dogs include:
- Excessive panting (dogs)
- Gasping for air (cats)
- Abdominal pain
- Problems urinating
- Lack of coordination
- Foaming at the mouth
- Brain damage
But what about Big Alcohol's claim that a "small amount" of alcohol (ethanol) won't hurt your dog or cat? The ASPCA warns us once again, "Even ingesting a small amount of a product containing alcohol can cause significant intoxication."
Another reference to small amounts of alcohol is found in Alcohol Poisoning in Cats and Dogs by an author/contributor at voices.yahoo. "If your cat or dogs weighs 10 pounds, it will probably not be able to survive an ethanol (grain alcohol) dosage of more than 25 grams." This is the exact amount of straight grain alcohol (Ethyl alcohol) contained in a typical 4 ounce bottle of the popular cat and dog dental spray.
Conscientious veterinarians agree
So in the final analysis the evidence cannot be ignored. Conscientious veterinarians who think truthfully about the problem of alcohol in cat and dog dental sprays are coming to many of the same conclusions.
Small amounts of alcohol given daily, over time, can be associated with
- Liver damage
- Kidney failure
- Reduced nutritional uptake
- Digestive problems
- Nervous disorders
- Respiratory impairment
- Distorted vision
- Early onset of disease
- Premature aging
- Reduced quality of life
If you've detected a not-so-subtle bias in my presentation of these facts, it's because I am more than just a little outspoken about the dangers of alcohol in dog dental sprays. You see, as an herbalist specializing in natural remedies for dogs and cats, I'm asking you to give your beloved pet a truly safe and effective alternative. This product is alcohol-free, made with human grade ingredients, and actually tastes good, too. It's called DentaSure 100% Natural Oral Care Spray & Gel for Dogs & Cats. It helps freshen breath, fight cavities, reverse gingivitis, remove plaque & tartar, and maintain healthy gums & teeth.
More importantly, the product doesn't betray the trust our furry companions place in us. It's quickly becoming the first choice of holistic veterinarians across the USA and around the world. Join the movement of responsible dog and cat lovers everywhere who have switched to this refreshingly honest alternative.
Gary Le Mon is a Board Certified Master Herbalist specializing in natural home remedies for dogs and cats. Please visit www.Natural-Wonder-Pets.com/Dog-Dental.html for BOGO Specials and useful information on 100% natural, herbal, veterinary/naturopathic remedies you can use at home to heal your furry friends. See also http://www.Natural-Wonder-Remedies.com.