There is a common substance called xylitol that is making thousands of dogs sick and even causing death, that may be in your house right now.
The substance is a popular sugar substitute that is affecting more pets now than ever before, with the number of Xylitol poisonings in dogs having increased dramatically in recent years. In a current report in the Wall Street Journal, statistics from the Pet Poison Helpline, says they had received ten times the number of calls relating to Xylitol by November 2015 than they did in the whole year of 2009.
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If you don’t already know what Xylitol is, it’s the sugar substitute that is added to chewing gum, mints, peanut butter, vitamins and toothpaste that is associated with being ‘sugar-free.’ You’ll also find Xylitol in lip balms, baby wipes, and sugar-free products like JELLO, yogurt, and puddings.
What people don’t realize is that the sugar substitute is 100 times more toxic to dogs than chocolate. Some people have never heard of Xylitol, so they don’t even realize the danger they may have in their homes.
Xylitol is dangerous to dogs, as a dog’s pancreas confuses the sugar substitute as real sugar and releases insulin to store it. The insulin then removes real sugar in the bloodstream, which results in the dog becoming weak, having tremors and even seizures that can start within 30 minutes of eating it. Other symptoms of hypoglycemia can include poor coordination and diarrhea/vomiting.
If a dog ingests something containing Xylitol liver failure and even death can occur. It may take up to eight hours for any symptoms to show up. A dog only needs to eat a small amount of Xylitol to be affected.
If you suspect that your dog has consumed something with xylitol in it, even just a small amount, you should immediately contact your veterinarian or an emergency veterinarian if off-hours.
It’s difficult to know just how much Xylitol is in products such as gum, and other foods because some manufacturers don’t report how much is in their products.
You can protect your dog by always reading labels first. If you are going to give your dog some peanut butter check the ingredients list first. You might also look for words like sugar-free, no sugar added and reduced sugar as flags that Xylitol might be added. Make sure to keep any mints, candies, and gum out of reach, so your dog can’t get into any trouble. Keep purses in places that are out of reach of your dog.
Have emergency numbers available just in case you should ever need to call. The Pet Poison Helpline is 1-855-764-7661, and keep the address and phone number of your local emergency veterinarian in your phone, just in case.