The Food and Drug Administration is warning that a sweetener called Xylitol, which can be found in many sugar free gums, is poisonous to dogs. Although humans may consume this sweetener without issue, it has been found that it can potentially be fatal to your canine companions, and dog owners should be extra vigilant when it comes to this ingredient.
If a dog ingests the artificial sweetener, it can cause a spike of insulin to be released from its pancreas, making the dog’s blood sugar plummet to sometimes fatal levels. Symptoms that your dog is having a reaction to the sweetener include fatigue, vomiting, staggering, collapsing, and seizures. If you suspect your dog has ingested Xylitol, take him or her to the vet right away, as it is potentially a life-threatening emergency.
The number of instances of poisoning from the ingredient has risen over 3000 percent int he past decade, mostly because Xylitol is now present in many more foods and non-food items. Although it is most commonly found in chewing gum, it can also be present in items like toothpastes and peanut butter.
As most people give their pets peanut butter without issue, sometimes even with their medication, it is especially important to double check that the brand you allow your dog to eat doesn’t contain the sweetener.
Dr. Ashley Gallagher of the Friendship Hospital in DC told CBS News that it was vital that pet owners were vigilant, “You just have to be really careful because dogs are nosy little creatures and they are hungry all the time. I know my dogs are, and they are just looking for a treat. So you have to really watch them.”
If you own any products that contain Xylitol, keep them far out of your dog’s reach. This can include things like chewing gum or toothpaste that you may not think as food items, but that your dog might just try and get into. Don’t leave groceries on the floor for an extended period of time after purchasing and make a habit of moving your purse or wallet to an area the dog can’t get to if you frequently carry gum.
Anna Scanlon is an author of YA and historical fiction and a PhD student at the University of Leicester where she is finishing her degree in modern history.