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Xylitol: Toxic Sugar Substitute For Dogs

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Often, counter surfing dogs just want to sample what we’re having, but in the case of food containing xylitol, a sugar substitute, the effects on dogs can be deadly.

Xylitol is considered a safe sugar substitute for humans and is being used more frequently in sugar free food items such as sugar free candy, and more often in sugar free chewing gum. The sweetener has a cooling, minty taste, making it a common choice for use in sugar-free gums such as peppermint and spearmint flavors. Xylitol also helps achieve the soft, flexible texture in a piece of gum.

The sweetener is also being used in items such as mints, chewable gummy vitamins, and toothpaste.  It’s attractive as an ingredient because it contains about 2/3 the calories of sugar and is a safe alternative to sugar for diabetics.

Unfortunately, many dog owners are unaware that xylitol is extremely toxic to dogs, estimated to be 100 times more toxic than milk chocolate.  Animal poison control centers are seeing a surge in dog poisoning cases due to ingestion of xylitol sweetened products.  Xylitol is so toxic to dogs because it causes a sudden surge of insulin to be released into the bloodstream.  This may cause low blood sugar, seizures, brain damage and liver failure.

Although many cases of xylitol poisoning in dogs comes from ingesting chewing gum, many dogs are also stricken after eating an entire jar of gummy vitamins, or foods baked with xylitol sweetener.  Dogs often love “forbidden foods” and once they get started, won’t stop until the plate or jar is empty.

The ASPCA poison control center first noted the dangers of xylitol poisoning for dogs in 2004.  The center received 82 calls that year, and by last year the number of calls had increased to 3,727, with 11 fatalities.

As with any toxic substance your dog might ingest, speed of treatment greatly increases the chances of survival.  If you believe your pet has ingested any amount of a food substance containing xylitol, rush them to a veterinarian immediately.

Check any sugar free items you may have in your home, and if you are a pet owner, please be sure to keep these items well out of reach.  Don’t let your dog become a tragic statistic.

 

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