XYLITOL: The sweetener that’s not so sweet to pets.

Do you check your labels when buying for your dogs? Xylitol, also identified as “birch sugar” or “birch sap” is a common ingredient in sugar-free products.

It’s commonly found in:

  • Toothpastes, mouthwashes, breath mints.
  • Cough syrup and cough drops.
  • Children’s and adult chewable vitamins.
  • Supplements and over-the-counter medications.
  • “Skinny” or low-calorie ice cream.
  • “Low-calorie” desserts of any kind (cookies, cakes, “energy” bars).
  • Peanut butters and other nut butters. 

It’s safe for human consumption but toxic to dogs and can cause adverse effects in cats. It’s best to keep any products containing xylitol out of reach of all pets! It also doesn’t take very much xylitol at all to seriously sicken or kill a dog.

Signs of xylitol toxicity:

Symptoms include vomiting, weakness, collapse, seizures, or uncoordinated gait. In dogs, xylitol is quickly absorbed into the bloodstream, and may result in a potent release of insulin from the pancreas. This rapid release of insulin may result in a rapid and profound decrease in the level of blood sugar (hypoglycemia), an effect that can occur within 10 to 60 minutes of eating the xylitol. Untreated, this hypoglycemia can quickly be life-threatening.

If xylitol toxicity is suspected or you know your pet ingested a product with xylitol in it, seek immediate veterinary care. If you’re unsure if a product your dog consumed contains xylitol or birch sugar, save the product packaging with the ingredient list and present it to your vet. Treatment involves monitoring to ensure blood glucose levels and liver activity remains normal, and support as needed in case of low blood sugar and/or liver failure.

 Prevent xylitol ingestion by checking ingredient lists, keeping xylitol-containing products out of reach, and educating the entire family on keeping these items away from the family pet.

While it can be hard to ignore those puppy dog eyes looking at you at the dinner table or when you are snacking, resist the temptation and make sure to keep human food that’s not safe for dogs out of their reach!

excerpts taken from Birch sugar is the same thing as xylitol and it’s toxic to dogs – Veterinary Teaching Hospital (colostate.edu) Xylitol – Highly Toxic to Dogs – Whole Dog Journal (whole-dog-journal.com)

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