With an increase of xylitol poisoning in dogs across the country, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is warning pet owners of the dangers of the sugar substitute and the types of products that contain it.
Xylitol, a class of sweetener known as sugar alcohol, can be found in sugarless gum and, according to FDA veterinarian Martine Hartogensis, is one of the main reasons vets have seen an increase in recent poisoning incidents.
Other products that include xylitol include:
- Breath mints
- Baked goods
- Cough syrup
- Children’s and adult chewable vitamins
Why is xylitol so dangerous for canines? Unlike in people, xylitol is more quickly absorbed into the bloodstream and can result in a more potent release of insulin. The FDA reports that the sped up process “may result in a rapid and profound decrease in the level of blood sugar (hypoglycemia), an effect that can occur within 10 to 60 minutes of eating the xylitol.”
“Untreated, this hypoglycemia can quickly be life-threatening,” Hartogensis said in the update.
Reportedly, xylitol toxicity in cats has not been documented; experts say possibly due to them not being fans of sweets.
Symptoms of xylitol poisoning include vomiting, weakness, decreased activity, incoordination, staggering, collapse and seizures. If you think your dog has eaten something with xylitol in it, Hartogensis advises an immediate visit to your vet or the ER.
“If you’re concerned about your dog eating a food or product with xylitol in it, check the label of ingredients,” Hartogensis advises the public.
She also encourages notifying the FDA of the incident.
“Timely reporting of problems enables FDA to take prompt action,” she said.
Visit FDA Consumer Updates for the full release.