Xylitol is a low calorie sweetener sugar substitute that can and is being used in a lot of products today in support of a healthier life style for humans. It can be found in everything from gum to mouthwash – even some forms of peanut butter and is billed as a natural, healthy sugar substitute guaranteed to reduce calorie intake and help one to lose weight.
What is NOT advertised is the severe threat it poses to companion animals – namely, your dog. It can cause serious or fatal poisoning if accidentally ingested by your dog. Lots of times our dogs like to rummage in our trash receptacles. So say one day, you chew a delicious stick of gum laced with this stuff and when you are through with it, you pitch it in the trash. Here comes “Rover”, bored and looking to engage in his favorite pastime, rummaging for tasty treats. Maybe he finds an empty yogurt cup or a half empty bag of chips and happily strews the chip crumbs around on the floor during his journey through the delicacies of the trash and then, almost as an afterthought, swallows your pitched gum.
You come home from work to find “Rover” has vomited all over your floor, is lying there weak and trembling and then suddenly has a full on seizure. You may swoop him up in your arms and race for the nearest veterinary emergency clinic – but chances are you are too late.
You see, dogs and humans are built differently. What is okay for humans may very well NOT be for dogs as in the case of xylitol. In humans, due to our makeup, xylitol is absorbed very slowly and we can generally handle it. Not so for dogs. Absorption rate in a dog is very rapid. A dog may go into convulsions as little as 30 minutes after swallowing food laced with xylitol. He will become lethargic or disoriented due to rapid blood sugar drop, resulting in fatal hypoglycemia – not to mention destruction of the liver where it make take a few days to die. Keep in mind that it only takes one or two sticks of used gum to kill a ten pound dog.
Forwarned is forearmed! NEVER leave your trash where your dog can get into it. Also beware that xylitol is marketed under different names such as, “birch sugar” and “birch bark extract”.