Xylitol sweetener substitute warning! The sweetener substitute warnings have been going around since 2007 when it was first causing widespread life threatening and sometimes fatal effects on dogs. The sweetener has been used in a variety of products over the years, but, most recently has been used in a low calorie peanut butter. Since peanut butter is often safe for dogs it is important to know this type of peanut butter can be deadly.
“Certain types of sugar-free gum have huge amounts of Xylitol,” said Dr. Justine Lee, Animal Emergency and Referral Center of Minnesota. “A lot of people do not think about it, but Xylitol’s a product in sugar-free vitamins. They are in toothpaste. They are in dental floss. They are in nasal sprays or in gums or in baked goods and as little as a couple of pieces of gum can result in severe hypoglycemia, so a life threatening drop in blood sugar and actually liver failure.” Dr. Justine Lee
Xylitol Sweetener Substitute Warning Guidelines
Read the label on any sugar free or low sugar products to ensure they do not contain xylitol. Products containing this sweetener are safe for people. But, they cause a number of problems for dogs including drop in blood sugar, insulin spike, and liver damage. Additionally the symptoms of these problems can be fatal quickly.
“A dog that has eaten an item containing Xylitol can be rapidly hit by a dangerous drop in blood sugar that causes weakness, lethargy, loss of coordination, collapse, and seizures. Those symptoms can develop within 30 minutes, and a dog so afflicted will need immediate veterinary treatment to survive. Without help, irreversible brain trauma occurs and the patient dies.” Snopes
Keep these guidelines in mind:
- Keep anything with Xylitol out of the reach of your dog.
- Check labels on any products which are sugar free or low sugar to ensure they aren’t using any harmful ingredients.
- Watch for any signs your dog is having weakness, lethargy, loss of coordination, or not responding to you.
- Call your vet right away if you notice any of these signs.
Refer also to our ‘When to call the Veterinarian in Addition to Regular Checkups‘ post for more signs something may be wrong.