It's dangerous and even potentially deadly. And it's a substance that could be hidden in common, everyday foods that you could unsuspectingly feed to your beloved pup. It is xylitol, an artificial sweetener. In September 2017, for instance, a two-year-old dog in Alameda, California, died after eating a cupcake containing the sweetener. Sadly, many pet owners are unaware of the dangers of xylitol, and even those that do understand the dangers could easily give their canine something containing this sweetener by accident.
More About Xylitol
Xylitol is a sugar alcohol. It has 40 percent fewer calories than sugar, and it doesn't raise blood sugar levels. So it is often used in numerous products designed for diabetics. Xylitol is also commonly found in sugarless gums and candies, toothpastes, and sugar-free vitamins. So far, this sweetener appears to be perfectly safe for human use. But for dogs, it's a totally different story.
Deadly for Dogs
In canines, xylitol causes a severe insulin release, which can cause hypoglycemia and liver failure. Sadly, even small amounts have proven deadly for dogs. In fact, according to Popular Science, the number one cause of xylitol poisoning in dogs is an edible item that is very small -- sugar-free gum. Unfortunately, the number of calls to the Pet Poison Helpline has risen significantly in recent years, from 300 in 2009 to 2,900 in 2015.
If the xylitol causes hypoglycemia in your pooch, you may notice the following symptoms:
- Staggering as if drunk
If your dog has these symptoms and you know that they have recently ingested a food item, check to see if it may include xylitol. If so, it is important to take your dog immediately to a pet hospital. Make sure to inform them that your pup has ingested xylitol. Please be aware that there are a number of other sweeteners that sound like xylitol that are not poisonous to your dog. These include:
If your dog has ingested xylitol, your dog will probably be hospitalized and put on IV fluids that will include a form of sugar supplementation for approximately 12 to 24 hours. The vet may also try to induce your dog to vomit. And if your pup has ingested a large amount of xylitol, the vet may give/prescribe liver protectants for it.
Xylitol is, unfortunately, quite common. So it is important to always be vigilant and prevent your dog from eating items that it may find lying around, as they may contain xylitol.