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Are Sugar Substitutes Dangerous for Dogs?

November 18, 2016

There is a lot of good information to be found online but even more bad information related to pets and the dangers of sugar substitutes. Unfortunately, many pet owners and even some pet health professionals simply stopped reading about the subject. That's a shame, as one of the more popular substitutes used to produce many sugar-free consumer products, is potentially life threatening to dogs. Xylitol is a naturally occurring sugar alcohol that is found in many fruits and vegetables as well as beech wood and birch wood. Since xylitol has been proven to kill bacteria that contribute to plaque and bad breath, it has become a popular ingredient for sugar-free chewing gums, mints, breath strips, throat lozenges, toothpaste and mouthwash.

Sources of Xylitol that Might Appeal to Dogs

If you've been a lifelong dog owner, you probably already know that some dogs will try to eat about anything. This is where today's pet owner needs to be vigilant in keeping sugar-free products intended for human consumption far away from their dog's reach. Since many pet owners stick peanut butter inside dog toys that were designed for treats, listed below are some of the brands of peanut butter that have been reported to contain xylitol.

  • Go Nuts, Co
  • Krush Nutrition
  • Nuts 'N More
  • P28 Foods
  • Protein Plus PB

Although xylitol is the only sugar substitute that is potentially deadly for dogs, many sugar-free products use a combination of sweeteners and may not specify xylitol as an ingredient. So, this list should not be considered complete. Also, totally avoid using human toothpaste to clean your pet's teeth.

Why Xylitol is Dangerous for Dogs

Some researchers estimate that xylitol may be 100 times more toxic as chocolate for dogs. Even small amounts of the sugar substitute can cause hypoglycemia or low blood sugar. Unlike humans, when a dog eats something containing xylitol, it is quickly (10 minutes to an hour) absorbed into the bloodstream causing their pancreas to release too much insulin. Left untreated, hypoglycemia can be life threatening as the dog may suffer liver failure from xylitol poisoning. If you suspect that your pet has eaten a product that contains xylitol, immediately contact your veterinarian or Pet Poison Helpline (800-213-6680). Although there is no antidote for xylitol poisoning, when caught in time liver protective drugs can be administered along with IV fluids.

If you would like to learn more about products that can be dangerous for your pet, call PrimeVET at 904-644-7876 to schedule an appointment with one of our caring veterinarians. Always store products that might contain xylitol safely out of reach of your pets.

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