Warning to Dog Owners: FDA says sugar substitute can be extremel - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Warning to Dog Owners: FDA says sugar substitute can be extremely harmful for your pup

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Over the past several years, the Center for Veterinary Medicine at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has received several reports—many of which pertained to chewing gum—of dogs being poisoned by xylitol, Over the past several years, the Center for Veterinary Medicine at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has received several reports—many of which pertained to chewing gum—of dogs being poisoned by xylitol,
WASHINGTON -

According to a recent consumer report by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration(FDA), a widely used alternative sweetener could prove deadly for your dog.

Commonly used in chewing gum, xylitol is marketed as a natural, low-calorie sugar substitute. It's safe for humans but can be extremely harmful to dogs. The FDA has received several reports from veterinarians over the past few years about dogs being poisoned by products containing xylitol. And gum is a very common culprit.

Keep your pets safe

Other sugar-free or sugarless products that often contain xylitol include:

  •     Breath mints.
  •     Mouthwash.
  •     Cough syrup.
  •     Toothpaste.
  •     Baked goods.
  •     Candy.
  •     Peanut butter and other nut butters.
  •     Chocolate bars.
  •     Chewable vitamins.

When a dog consumes xylitol, the substance triggers a release of insulin from the pancreas that does not occur in humans. This sudden increase in insulin can lead to hypoglycemia (an unsafe drop in blood sugar). Larger doses can also cause liver damage or failure.

It's not known how toxic xylitol may be for cats, since cats tend to avoid sweets.

The take-home message

Anyone who's had a dog knows: They'll try to eat anything they can get their paws on. So dog owners need to be extra vigilant about keeping products containing xylitol out of pets' reach. A few tips to keep in mind:

  •     Read product labels to know which things in your home contain xylitol.
  •     Avoid feeding dogs any human food items-especially if they're marked sugar-free.
  •     Pet toothpaste and human toothpaste are not the same. If your dog needs a teeth-brushing, use a toothpaste made especially for pets.
  •     Don't leave products containing xylitol out where your pet could find them. It's easy to forget about a pack of chewing gum you leave in your purse or on the kitchen table, but such a mistake could be dangerous for your pet.

And watch out for symptoms of xylitol poisoning. Those can include:

  •     Vomiting.
  •     A decrease in activity.
  •     Weakness.
  •     Dizziness or staggering.
  •     Incoordination.
  •     Lethargy.
  •     Coma.
  •     Collapse.
  •     Seizures.

Serious symptoms can appear within 30 minutes, but they sometimes take 12 to 24 hours to appear. So if you think your pet has ingested xylitol, get to a vet at once. Your pet may need to be monitored overnight.

If your pet has experienced xylitol poisoning, the FDA encourages you and your vet to report the incident via their online Safety Reporting Portal as soon as possible. 

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