Do you have a dog who likes to explore and can seem to get into everything? Then you should be on watch for xylitol lurking around your home because it is toxic to dogs.
Start checking labels. Low sugar and artifically sweetened items including gum, candy, baked goods, and toothpaste may contain xylitol among their ingredients. Some cooling clothing is even impregnated with it.
Here, from two sources, is what you need to know about this ingredient that could lead to hypogylcemia or liver failure in dogs. (So far, toxicity in cats has not been proven.)
From Veterinary Medicine, here is a report on the effects of xylitol that the ASPCA is making available via their poison control center.
If at some point that link doesn't work, you can Download: Effects of Xylitol Ingestion in Dogs, here.
A more recent report from the site Pet Poison Hotline reports:
"In addition to finding xylitol in gum, sugar-free candies, mints, and baked goods, we are now seeing it in many healthcare products. There is even a line of clothing with xylitol embedded in it! Some of the places we have seen xylitol include chewable vitamins, gummy vitamins, lozenges/cough drops, sublingual supplements and medications (over the counter and prescription), liquid medications (over the counter and prescription), breath sprays, medication/supplement sprays, toothpastes, nasal sprays, mouth rinses/washes, essential oil products, cosmetics, and many sugar-free foods and baking ingredients."
The Many Names of Xylitol
In addition to inclusion in many products besides the sugarless gum we learned about initially, it is not always called xylitol. You may see it listed as sugar alcohol, birch sugar, E967, Meso-Xylitol, Méso-Xylitol, Sucre de Bouleau, Xilitol, Xylit, Xylite, or 1,2,3,4,5-Pentahydroxypentane, XyliteXylo-pentane-1,2,3,4,5-pentol.
Keep it Away
If you have sugarless gum in your bag or backpack, be sure to put it somewhere your dog can't reach. If you have other products in your home, place them out of reach. If you have clothing embedded with xylitol, keep your dog from mouthing it or licking it until we find out if it, too, is dangerous.
In our house, sugarless gum is kept in sealed mason jars and carried in sealed plastic bottles. And, we don't discard gum in any trash can our Poppy can reach.
When outside, we keep a watch for wads of discarded gum. Not only is that dangerous if ingested, but also we recall spending one long session of cutting gum out of the fur and between the pads of a dog's paw. Not fun!
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Words: Penny Cherubino, edited for BostonZest from her CIty Paws Newspaper Column.