Fluoride. A natural element. Part of the earth. How bad can it be? Worth knowing, if your goal is raising wildly healthy, disease resistant Vital Animals. You’d not want them to be ingesting something harmful, even unknowingly.
Fluoride is a salt of the element fluorine, found in wide distribution in the earth. When fluorine combines with minerals in soil or rocks, various fluoride compounds result. The picture up top is a common one called flourite.
One interesting fact that’ll mean more as you read on is that consumed fluoride resides in bones. And, once you’ve got it in a body, it’s very hard to get rid of.
Another: fluoride is NOT a nutrient. No body needs fluoride to live.
But here’s the kicker: fluoride is a highly toxic substance. That’s why the FDA now requires warnings for children on every fluoride-laden toothpaste sold:
If you accidentally swallow more than used for brushing, seek professional help or contact a poison control center immediately.“
Where Are We Getting Our Fluoride?
If you live in the U.S., odds are about 70% that you and your animals get fluoride in your drinking water. Canadians are roughly 50% likely, depending on your municipality. You Australians have about an 80% chance that your drinking water has added fluoride. Here’s the 2012 data source for these figures.
Lest you think we are somehow smarter for fluoridating our water, some perspective is in order. That same source above will tell you that most developed nations don’t fluoridate their water. And that only about 3% of Western Europeans consume fluoridated water.
Another perspective, a bit of an embarrassing one to U.S. citizens:
As a population, the United States has more people drinking fluoridated water than the rest of the world combined!
And, unless you’re doing something about it, it means so are your pets and livestock, if you use tap water in the water dish or tank. Well water varies in fluoride content, but it’s worth testing yours.
Other sources include fluoridated toothpastes, fluoride treatments from dentists (hopefully not veterinary dentists, but I’d not be too surprised), Teflon pans, pharmaceuticals (including common veterinary anesthetic gases, Isoflurane and Sevoflurane!), and pesticides, especially those used in growing grapes.
Why is Our Water Fluoridated?
Great question! I like how your mind is working right now. A highly toxic substance? In our drinking water??
Most water treatment, world wide, has one objective: to make the drinking water for the populace safe. Free of bacterial contaminants, most notably coliforms and other disease causing organisms.
Fluoridation, on the other hand, does nothing to achieve this laudable goal of making water safe to drink. In fact, it’s not a treatment of water per se, it’s a treatment of people consuming the water. A medical treatment. That you didn’t get to decide on. If you drink tap water, or offer it to your animals, you are all being medicated without your consent.
Pretty strange, eh?
Lots of nefarious reasons for why fluoridation started are floating around the internet, but I’ll leave it up to you to explore them. Words like “toxic waste,” “atomic bomb development,” and “aluminum industry” will populate your search page if you Google the “how did fluoridation begin?” question. It’s quite a rabbit hole, if you want to dig.
But, This is For Our Own Good! No Cavities – That’s Good, Right?
Oh, how I wish that were true. You’d like to believe that anything done to a huge populace without their say would be a good thing for all, wouldn’t you?
Sorry, but fluoridation doesn’t help with the cavity thing. Even if the ADA (American Dental Association) still tells you it does, in the face of a lack of solid evidence.
If you compare the downward trend in tooth decay rates in countries with and without fluoridation, you’ll see very similar drops in both populations:
Any Risk to Consuming Fluoride?
If they’re putting it in our drinking water, and the efficacy of decay prevention is lousy, at least it shouldn’t be harmful. Are we in agreement, here? The weak science behind benefits aside, it’d be nice to assume the mass medication program at least isn’t hurting anyone!
Again, I wish I had better news for you. Fluoride is just not a good thing, and is in fact causing serious health problems. People living in areas with lots of fluoride have experienced awful illness, like teeth disintegration, loss of mental acuity, lung problems, poor healing of wounds, and death.
Ill effects of fluoride consumption show up in your:
- Brain: reduced I.Q. and learning ability, increased ADHD and dementia
- Thyroid: officially causes hypothyroidism, common in people and dogs
- Bone: increased fracture risk and bone cancer risk
- Fertility: impaired, damage to sperm
- Immune system: disrupted, antibody formation inhibited (low titer results, anyone?)
- Musculoskeletal system: disrupts the synthesis of collagen, the main connective tissue in mammals; arthritis, muscle disorders
Let’s spend a bit more time talking about bone cancer, often appearing as osteosarcoma. This is a deadly form of cancer and I spoke about it earlier in relation to neutering.
The Environmental Working Group put out a paper in 2009 revealing high levels of fluoride in various brands of pet foods. While studies have yet to show the correlation of high fluoride and bone cancer in dogs, Harvard studies mentioned in the article showed a clear correlation of higher osteosarcoma rates in boys exposed to fluoride in their youth.
Fluoride: risky business for living creatures. Let’s see what we can do to minimize risks.
How to Avoid Fluoride
So, involuntary mass medication aside, you can see that if your goal is healthy bodies and Vital Animals, you’ll do well to stay away from fluoride.
It’s not that difficult to do. The Fluoride Action Network has a great Top 10 Ways to Reduce Fluoride Exposure page for you.
Drinking water that’s been fluoridated is the top source, and you can get it out with certain types of water filters. Reverse osmosis (my fave is on this page), distillers, and deionizers will all get most of it out. Your refrigerator filter? It won’t. Nor will your Pur or Brita filter, so you may need to step up your game if that’s all you use.
Toothpaste won’t be an issue if you’re using my preferred natural toothbrushing method for your pets. The exposure risk is highest to kids via fluoridated toothpastes, and I suspect the pet world has some of these as well. You can trash yours and your pets, knowing what you now know, and use a fluoride-free alternative.
Hopefully, Dr. WhiteCoat isn’t pushing fluoride treatments for your dog or cat. If he is, you want to politely decline. “Not today, but I’ll let you know if we decide we want that, thanks.”
Food Choices: If you read the EWG paper in the previous section, the common thread in foods that had high levels of fluoride contamination were two:
- Animal byproducts
- Bone meal
A third mentioned elsewhere was “raw phosphate,” used by the cheaper dog foods, as it’s the least expensive macromineral source.
If you’re making homemade pet food and want a calcium/phosphorus supplement that’s not likely to have significant fluoride, explore those ocean sourced brands, like Seaweed Calcium from Animal Essentials.
Animal Essentials Seaweed Calcium Dog & Cat Supplement
from: Only Natural Pet
But how about ordinary bone feeding? The jury is still out on that.
Were you aware of this fluoride problem? I had a vague idea, but researching this was eye opening for me. I know my dentist has been outspoken against fluoridation for years, but I didn’t know the extent to which our pets are at risk. Let us know in the comments what you know and what you’re doing to minimize the fluoride risk for your animals.