A leading vet is concerned about the growing trend of owners using toothpaste to treat sarcoids in horses.
The rumour that toothpaste can cure sarcoids is not new. But Professor Derek Knottenbelt — an equine dermatology expert at Liverpool University — believes that social media discussions have fuelled a rise in the number of horse owners trying the method.
Prof Knottenbelt estimates that he now sees two or three sarcoid cases a week that owners have tried to treat using toothpaste.
“It is completely ludicrous; this is cancer that we are dealing with,” he told H&H. “Imagine if you went to the doctor with cancer and they sent you to the supermarket to buy toothpaste.”
Despite there being no medical evidence for the treatment, some people claim that it does work.
An owner on the H&H forum said: “I kept reading about toothpaste and I thought, what the hell, I will give it a go.
“I have been slapping it on and much to my amazement the whole thing has come away. Who would have thought this would actually work?”
Approximately 10% of horses recover from sarcoids naturally — which is what Prof Knottenbelt believes may have led people to believe that the toothpaste treatment works.
He warns that not only does the remedy not work, but it is also dangerous because it delays treatment and can irritate the tumour.
“I see cases all the time where it has failed and it’s much worse,” he added. “These people claim to ‘love their horse’ yet they are prepared to treat them like this. It is complete madness.”
This news story was first published in Horse & Hound magazine (15 August 2013)