Fluoride is a chemical widely found in nature. It is used extensively in industry, is added to drinking water to prevent tooth decay- and is found in high levels in many commercial dog foods. Several years ago the Environmental Working Group tested dog foods for fluoride levels and discovered that eight of the ten foods tested had high levels of fluoride.
Fluoride toxicity is well recognized in animals- mostly in farm animals. The amount of fluoride in feeds for farm animals is carefully controlled because of concerns about the effects of fluoride. Very little attention has been paid to fluoride toxicity in pet animals. Acute fluoride toxicity- often associated with eating a tube of toothpaste- has long been recognized in dogs. However, very little is known about the consequences of long term, low level exposure to fluoride. In humans, there is much more data concerning the health effects of fluoride and the other toxic halide, bromide. Drs. Alexander, Brownstein, and Flechas have broadened the understanding of thyroid disease as it relates to halide toxicity.
Symptoms of chronic fluoride toxicity include depression, diarrhea, excessive drooling, gastroenteritis, labored breathing, lameness, lethargy, loss of appetite, muscle wasting, muscle weakness, rapid heart rate, restlessness, seizures, stiffness, sudden death, vomiting, and weight loss. These symptoms are so generalized as to make clinical diagnosis of chronic fluoride toxicity extremely difficult. Urine testing for halide levels, before symptoms occur, is a much better approach to this problem. For more detailed information, check out Https://www.manataka.org/page 1854.hml and https//www.ewg.org/research/dog-food-comparison-shows-high-fluoride-levels.
We have recently begun testing urine levels of halides (iodine, bromine, and fluoride). We started this testing because one of our patients, an Akita, developed symptoms of hypothyroidism- hair loss and poor hair coat. A thyroid profile showed mild hypothyroidism- which did not respond to thyroxine and thyroid support supplementation. A Urine Halides Panel showed normal levels of iodine and increased levels of fluoride. Supplementation with additional iodine has produced gradual improvement in the hair coat. We have since found a second dog with the same pattern. We have now tested 10 dogs, nine of which have shown elevated levels of fluoride. The dog that showed normal levels of fluoride is my old dog, Duchess, who has eaten home prepared food and drank well water for 10 years. Clearly, if the pattern continues, elevated fluoride levels are a major concern in all dogs that eat commercially prepared dog foods.
Removal of fluoride from the body is relatively easy and straight forward. Supplemental iodine will mobilize fluoride and allow for removal by the kidneys. Testing is important is determining the amount of iodine to give and the duration of treatment. It will also help in developing a plan to prevent on-going accumulation of fluoride once the detox process is completed.