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“Two Paws Up Tuesday”

Dangerous (and Surprising) Items That Contain Xylitol 

Dog owners know the dangers that foods like chocolate, garlic, onions, and grapes pose to their canine companions’ health; foods that are harmless to most people.

Another common substance that’s harmless to most humans but potentially life-threatening if consumed by dogs is Xylitol – a sugar alcohol that is used as a sugar substitute in many human foods.

But for dogs, xylitol poisoning is a major problem, according to the associate director of veterinary services at the Pet Poison Helpline. Ingesting xylitol causes a rapid and massive insulin release in dogs, which will manifest itself outwardly to a pet owner as acute weakness, staggering, and vomiting. Within 15-20 minutes, they might even be comatose, and depending on the amount consumed, a dog can also experience liver failure from ingesting xylitol.

Gum: If a gum is labeled as sugar-free, that should be a warning sign for xylitol. The Pet Poison Helpline cites gum as the source of nearly 80% of cases.

Mouthwash and Toothpaste: While not usually containing the same levels of xylitol as gum, dental health products tend to use this sugar substitute because of its appealing sweet taste and its teeth strengthening, plaque-fitting properties.

Baked Goods: Because packaged xylitol can be bought in bulk at many food stores, baked foods are becoming a more common source of canine health emergencies. Cupcakes and cookies have a lot more sweetener in them than mouthwash, a pet that consumes a baked good packed with xylitol is in danger of facing a life-threatening situation. You need to call your vet or the Pet Poison Helpline immediately and give them as much information as you can. Depending on the severity, they may suggest feeding your dog syrup or honey-something sweet to help keep their blood sugar up temporarily while you drive to seek emergency help.  On the other hand many grocery stores have stated carrying sugar-free foods like ketchup, peanut butter, protein bars, pudding, and more that contain xylitol as one of their primary ingredients. It is important to always carefully read the entire ingredient list of any food before giving it to your dog.

Medications: Most medications that contain xylitol are of the “meltaway” variety. These accounted for 12% of cases referred to a veterinary emergency facility, according to the Pet Poison Helpline-the second most behind gum. You also might see xylitol in some medications containing melatonin, liquid prescription products, and gummy vitamins.

Lotions, Gels, and Deodorants: You’re probably thinking, “why does my deodorant contain an artificial sweetener?” Fair question. Xylitol has humectant properties, which means it can help a product retain moisture, which makes it perfect for products like this.

Information courtesy of: PetMD

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