fluoride water dogWe all want what’s best for our dogs and our families. We feed our dogs high quality food and try to choose healthy, natural health care whenever we can. But how many of us question the one thing that goes into every dog without much thought: water?

What Lies Beneath

Fluoride is added to many municipal water supplies to help prevent tooth decay. When it’s present in drinking water at 1 part per million, it’s considered safe. However some agencies won’t ring warning bells until levels reach 4 parts per million and too much fluoride in the body can cause skeletal fluorosis and even be toxic.

Skeletal fluorosis is a painful, debilitating disease caused by a build up of fluoride in the body. Early stages are marked by stiffness and painful joints, mimicking arthritis. Later stages are defined by “severe deformities as the ligaments of the neck and vertebrae calcify (harden), muscle tissue wastes away, and movement becomes more and more limited.” according to Elizabeth Renter of Natural Society.

Additional Risks

New studies have linked dental fluorosis (disease of the teeth), weakening of bones, bone loss, bone cancer, kidney disease, osteosarcoma and hormone disruption to fluoride. It can also lead to reduced IQ levels and cognitive damage. Gastrointestional upset has also been linked to fluoride.

“It is well established that fluoride ingestion can cause a range of gastrointestinal (“GI”) symptoms, including nausea, pain, and vomiting. It is not yet understood, however, what level of fluoride in the stomach is necessary to cause these symptoms, and how much this level varies based on the sensitivity of the individual. In 2006, the National Research Council called for more research to explore these issues.” – Fluoride Action Network

Is Your Dog At Risk?

Fluoride is present naturally in various foods. Due to the artificial addition of synthetic fluoride to drinking water, it infiltrates into everything. Mechanically watered plants, processed foods, feed animals all accumulate until the safe levels in the drinking water are blown away. Independent tests have shown that some processed dog foods have excessive levels of fluoride (some 2.5 times higher than “safe” levels).

In addition to diet, even exposure to treated water is a concern. Fluoride can also be absorbed through the skin. If the pool your dog swims in, bathes in or exercises in is filled with treated water, they are being exposed to additional fluoride.

Signs Of Fluorosis

It’s important for pet owners to understand that skeletal fluorosis is often misdiagnosed as arthritis. Since fluoride’s effects are cumulative, it’s easy to mistake fluorosis for arthritis symptoms. Xray evidence of the disease only captures the progressed disease and completely misses the early stages.

Early stages present as issues of “aging” and are often dismissed as such. Has your aging dog had any of the above symptoms? Is it age or the early stages of skeletal fluorosis? It’s widely thought that skeletal fluorosis is not an issue in North America. In reality, early onset is possibly rampant and widely misdiagnosed.

Prevention Is Key

The damage from excessive fluoride is cumulative and for the most part, irreversible. While the symptoms can be treated, the only true treatment is avoidance. Additionally, bone injuries of skeletal fluorosis sufferers cannot be treated conventionally due to brittle bones and slow healing times.

A healthy, natural, unprocessed diet and filtered water are key to preventing this common issue. (Brita water filters do not filter fluoride).