Always check labels, and view this list by Preventive Vet!
What is Xylitol?
Xylitol is a sugar alcohol used in many human products as a sweetener or tooth decay preventive. It is highly toxic to dogs.
Historically, xylitol has been used in toothpastes, chewing gum, and other human dental products, but due to its sweetening and non-nutritive (zero-calorie) properties it has become a common food additive as well.
Most products containing xylitol are not prominently labeled. You have to look at small print on the ingredient panel. Xylitol is also starting to appear in places you might not expect, including nut butters, medications, and facial cleansers.
Because peanut butter (and many other products that can contain xylitol) are not generally considered a “sweet” food, most people would not think to check their peanut butter jars before giving their pets a treat. And if your pet got into a jar of peanut butter accidentally, you might not be particularly concerned.
Dogs ingesting products containing xylitol can have symptoms ranging from mild hypoglycemia to potentially fatal liver failure, depending on the size of the dog, the concentration of xylitol in the product, and the amount consumed.
We encourage you to check all food, vitamin, and medication labels when shopping, and to keep products in their original packaging so that if your pet accidentally ingests a product you can check the ingredients.
Symptoms of Xylitol Toxicity
- Weakness or lethargy
- Walking drunk
- Acute collapse
- Trembling or tremoring
- A racing heart rate
- Jaundiced gums
- Black-tarry stool
- Abnormal mentation
- Clotting problems
Preventive Vet maintains a list of consumer products known to contain xylitol. This list is not exhaustive but is a good place to start if you are curious about the products you buy.
In general, anything that lists any of the following ingredients should be avoided. If you do have these items in your home it is very important to keep them where a dog can never get to them:
- birch bark extract
- birch sugar
Special Note About Flavored Medications
Many flavored medications from human pharmacies are sweetened with xylitol. Sometimes, when your pet needs a medication, your veterinarian will call a prescription into a local human pharmacy for you to pick up.
Human pharmacists don’t always know that xylitol is toxic to dogs, so if you are picking up a human medication for your pet, we encourage you to double check with the pharmacist to ensure the product does not contain xylitol.
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