More Doggone Myths about Fluoride
Last month, the Examiner.com published Dog health problems linked to excessive fluoride, an article filled with false claims about fluoride’s effect on dogs. Although the Examiner states that each of its contributing writers should be a “knowledgeable subject matter expert,” the claims made in this article fail to meet that standard.
One of the fears John Houck raised in his article is an alleged link between fluoride and bone cancer in dogs. Yet no such risk was found by a new University of California-Davis study which concluded “that exposure to optimally fluoridated water does not appear to alter the overall risk of developing [osteosarcoma, bone cancer] in pet dogs.”
Houck’s article also asserts that “there are several dog health issues thought to be caused by fluoride toxicity,” but the hyperlink he provides does not lead to any evidence. Instead, it takes readers to a page of other pet articles, including one on “snow day activities with your dog.”
If there were any reason for pet owners to be worried about fluoridated water, you can be sure that the American Veterinary Medicine Association (AVMA) would sound an alarm. As you would expect, the AVMA’s website offers lots of recommendations to dog owners about keeping their pets safe and healthy. Of the 13 foods and beverages they say should be kept out of dogs’ reach, fluoridated water is not one of them.
The Houck article suggested that taking a bath with fluoridated water could be a source of excess exposure for people and dogs because “fluoride is easily absorbed through the skin.” This assertion is false. In fact, the European Union’s Scientific Committee on Environmental Risks concluded that “the fluoride ion will not readily pass through the skin and this pathway is not likely to contribute to people’s fluoride intake.”
It’s worth considering that the author of this article has offered other bad advice to pet owners, advice that is at odds with the experts.
For example, Houck wrote an article about anxiety in dogs and advised pet owners that “essential oils are another easy, yet powerful way to help your dog let go of stress.” However, Dr Tina Wismer has cautioned dog owners against this very thing. “These essential oils can be inadvertently inhaled by your pet, consumed by licking or actually eating the substance, or absorbed through the skin. This is a concern because many of these substances can be harmful.” Dr. Wismer’s credentials are impressive. She has co-authored several peer-reviewed studies related to animal toxicology. And she is the medical director of the Animal Poison Control Center at the Association Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
Finally, Houck cited a 2014 article in a journal called The Lancet that identified fluoride as a neurotoxin. But he left out crucial facts.
First, The Lancet referred to studies from China and Iran that examined concentrations of fluoride that were far higher than the levels used here in the U.S. to fluoridate drinking water. Second, Harvard researchers who reviewed these studies explained that each of them “had deficiencies, in some cases rather serious ones that limit the conclusions that can be drawn.” Either Houck did not share or was not aware that one of that article’s co-authors was quoted in a national news magazine, saying about fluoride, “There’s no question that, at low doses, it’s beneficial.”
It’s unfortunate that Examiner.com published an article that may create unjustified fear among dog owners. It’s up to all of us to share the facts about fluoride with our friends, neighbors — and, yes — pet owners.